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Ross And Ireland All Smiles After Strong Free Agent Haul

Posted Mar 18, 2013

Dolphins owner, GM like the direction team is heading.

PHOENIX – Not even the scorching desert sun could prevent Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross and General Manager Jeff Ireland from smiling today at the league meetings.

Less than a week after the official start of free agency, Ross and Ireland could sit back and survey the impressive haul they got both in Miami’s own unrestricted free agents and the pieces added from outside. It’s a much different looking team from the one that ended the 2012 season at the New England Patriots and much younger and faster under Head Coach Joe Philbin.

“It is exciting, certainly,” said Ross during a break in between the morning meetings and the afternoon session. “I think Jeff has done a great job with a plan that he had in mind and talked about it but obviously wasn’t open because he couldn’t be. I think the result of what he’s done really creates a very exciting team, but we all know you don’t win in March and April. You win in September, October, November and December and hopefully in January.

“You can’t help but be excited with what we’ve done to date and having nine draft choices that you really have the opportunity of really creating a team that not only is exciting but will be very young. Because we didn’t reach for all those old veterans to sign and hope that they still has something left. We’re younger, we’re faster and I think that it’s a type of team that I think Joe wants to build upon in really fitting his system, so I think that’s very important.”

Ireland of course was the man behind the moves – headlined by the signing of speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace – and he had reiterated both at the Senior Bowl in January and at the NFL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago how meticulous of a plan he had put in place. A lot of the decisions that he, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Dawn Aponte and Philbin made last offseason helped create the vast amount of money under the salary cap that was at Ireland’s disposal.

With that money he inked Wallace, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, former New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller, wide receiver Brandon Gibson and re-signed wide receiver Brian Hartline, quarterback Matt Moore and safety Chris Clemons. There still is time left in this current free agency period to address some of the other needs on the roster and of course there is next month’s NFL Draft.

Ireland is well aware of the new void created at left tackle by the departure of Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams, but this draft class is deep at the tackle position as well. As of this moment, his plan seems to be falling in place.

“Certainly we felt like we hit on some and certainly hit on some others that were maybe Plan B contingencies,” Ireland said. “We certainly wanted Jake back but we have a Plan B for that as well. We’ve got contingencies to contingencies upon contingencies involved in trying to get the best players available and we’ll certainly try to continue down that road.

“We certainly think we are (better). We’ve made some really great moves to get younger, get faster, get more explosive and get more physical, so I think some of the moves that we’ve made are certainly upgrades in what we’re trying to get accomplished offensively and defensively. It’s a combination of free agency, other player acquisition time periods and obviously the draft.”

Between the changes to the roster, what lies ahead in the draft and some of the things Ross has planned for the stadium and other areas of the organization, things are looking up for the Dolphins. The Miami Beach High School graduate who is been dead set on making the franchise a winner again sees some synergy between what Ireland has done and what he has been trying to do.

“What was really interesting was how that has become infectious,” Ross said. “When you read what the new players have said in their interviews and what Hartline and Matt Moore said and why they came back with the new coach and just hearing from other people about how much they’re impressed with what we’re doing you see it. But the only place it really matters is on the football field. We can all talk about it and you’ve got to win, but you don’t do it unless you have the right ingredients and I certainly think we’re going in that direction.”

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