Ross Feeling Good About Direction Of Dolphins

Posted Jan 7, 2013

First season with Philbin as Head Coach left a good impression.

This was the first time in Steve Ross’ tenure as owner of the Miami Dolphins that he felt like he was able to totally put his imprint on the storied organization. Eight days after the 2012 season came to an end, Ross feels very optimistic about where the Dolphins are headed.

Head Coach Joe Philbin was 100 percent Ross’ hire and it was his decision to keep General Manager Jeff Ireland on, proving with conviction that real estate mogul had a defined vision. He used his real estate business as an example of how his philosophy differs from the day traders on Wall Street looking for a quick fix and as promised he gave his evaluation of the job Philbin did in his first year.

“I was really impressed with Coach Philbin and I think we can safely say, and I heard it from so many people and surely feel it most importantly, that we have a really solid head coach here,” said Ross during a gathering with the local media this afternoon. “He’s a guy that I think will be here a long time and hopefully bring all those victories that everybody wants.”

Granted, the team missed the playoffs again and finished one game under .500 at 7-9, but it also installed a brand new offensive system and a brand new defensive system and started a rookie at quarterback in Ryan Tannehill for all 16 games. Ross has always been up front about how getting to the playoffs is the goal at the start of every season and of course reaching the Super Bowl and winning it is the ultimate goal.

So when he took a step back and looked at the entire season with a wider lens, Ross had a better appreciation for what Philbin, Ireland and the coaching staff accomplished. There were back-to-back overtime losses to the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals that had they turned out differently might have resulted in a winning record, and Ross was intent on getting that point across.

“You look back at the season after and you say what was the good and what was the bad? And certainly the good outweighed a lot of the bad here,” he said. “The fact is that we do have and we have the makings of a quarterback that will be here a long time that has a lot of great potential, so when you look at it from the standpoint you can be very positive. I look at it from the standpoint, certainly today.”

Thanks to some shrewd maneuvering in the salary department and on the trade front by Ireland and Executive Vice President of Football Administration Dawn Aponte, the Dolphins have a lot of money under the salary cap to spend and five draft picks in the first three rounds. That gives them a chance to both be a player in free agency but more importantly, continue to build the team through the draft.

Going back to the day Ross bought the franchise from H. Wayne Huizenga in 2008 and then assumed majority ownership in January of 2009, he pledged to do whatever it takes to bring a winner back to Miami. He grew up down here and went to high school in Miami Beach, so his passion for the Dolphins never waned.

“When I bought the team I told everybody that whatever resources we have or what I have, I want to build a winning team and that comes first,” Ross said. “This isn’t one of these organizations that tries to just slap things together just for the sake of doing it. I’m willing to spend whatever it takes to build it but I think sometimes people look at spending as a way of winning and in business it isn’t money that solves problems, it’s brains that solve problems and using your abilities. If the right players are there, I don’t care what it costs. We’ll go after them.

“Right now we’re well-positioned in the draft and I think Jeff’s done a great job from that standpoint. I think we have the second youngest team in the NFL and the question is what’s going to be available in free agency and getting the right mix. That’s not a decision that I make. It’s a decision that I think the coach and Jeff will do together. I think as the coach has stated you want to build through the draft and you certainly look and see what’s out there in free agency and see if you can get the right player that will fit in that locker room.”

Even with all of the possibilities that lie ahead between now and the 2013 NFL Draft in late April, Ross remained eager to talk about the promise that Philbin fulfilled. Last January, while Ross was interviewing different candidates to replace Tony Sparano, he knew what he had in mind in terms of the characteristics and credentials for his head coach and was blown away by Philbin during his interview.

Back on January 20th, 2012, three years to the day that Ross assumed majority ownership, Philbin was hired and introduced to the media and the South Florida fan base. Now just 13 days shy of that anniversary date, Ross feels like he got precisely what he bargained for.

“I think one of the characteristics that Joe had was that he came in with one of the most organized presentations I’ve ever seen,” he said. “You can look back at that and you can say that he followed that. He did everything that he said he was going to do and I think he’s about as organized and consistent as anybody you’ll ever meet. I was talking to his secretary the other day and she’s been here all this time and she said nobody’s more organized than Joe. He really sets forth what his plans are and I think that’s important because when you hear what his plans are you really believe in them.”
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