Ireland: Joe And I See Eye To Eye

Posted Apr 18, 2013

Dolphins GM and Head Coach share same philosophy.

Coaches and general managers in the National Football League have to co-exist on a similar plane in order to help foster success on the field. Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland and Head Coach Joe Philbin have come a long way in a short amount of time in that regard.

Just sixteen short months ago, Philbin was trying to convince owner Steve Ross and Ireland that he was the right man for the job of becoming the 10th head coach in franchise history. One week from today he will sit next to Ireland in the draft room at Doctor’s Hospital Training Facility in Davie for their second NFL Draft together, and with 11 picks at their disposal the two hope to work together well again.

“One of the things I liked about Joe in the interview process was that he and I see players pretty much the same,” said Ireland, who is entering his sixth season as Miami’s GM. “Schematically is where maybe it’s changed. Character and makeup, those things, we see very much eye-to-eye on. I’m probably a little bit more of a risk taker than maybe Joe, but we certainly see eye-to-eye.”

Last year, Ireland and Philbin agreed on Ryan Tannehill as the quarterback of the future with the eighth overall pick of the first round and added an important piece to the offensive line in front of Tannehill in the second round with tackle Jonathan Martin. Their shared vision continued to take shape in the successive rounds, yielding defensive end Olivier Vernon and tight end Michael Egnew in the third round, running back Lamar Miller in the fourth round, linebacker Josh Kaddu in the fifth round and defensive tackle Kheeston Randall and wide receiver Rishard Matthews in the seventh round.

Vernon, Miller, Kaddu, Randall and Matthews all made strong contributions as rookies, along with Tannehill and Martin. They also fit the mold of the type of player Philbin and Ireland want on their roster.

“We want guys that are highly competitive,” Ireland said. “We want guys that have a specific combination of intangible ingredients that form a desired football personality. That’s absolutely what we’re trying to look for. Schematics are obviously different, maybe from a defensive line standpoint and maybe from an offensive line standpoint.”

It’s not just leading up to the draft when the coach and general manager have to be on the same page. Free agency has a significant impact on what takes place during that three-day period at the end of April and the Dolphins have been major players in that realm.

By adding wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, tight end Dustin Keller, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, defensive tackle Vaughn Martin and offensive lineman Lance Louis, the Dolphins helped to narrow their focus more when it comes to the draft. This required strong cooperation among Ireland, Philbin and Executive Director of Football Administration Dawn Aponte.

“Coach Philbin and I worked extremely well together during this process, along with Dawn, and it’s been a lot of fun to work with them,” Ireland said. “It’s been a lot of busy work, a lot of ups and downs in the process, but nothing we weren’t prepared for. But we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got some holes to fill.”

Clearly, Ireland and Philbin will once again share the shovel.

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