How would you assess this season?
Stephen Ross: This season was about establishing a foundation as we work to build a championship caliber team. That means establishing a culture, an identity of who we are as a football team, cleaning up the roster and salary cap situation and also creating opportunities to build a roster full of the type of players we need moving forward. I think from that lens it was a successful year. I'm especially proud of these players and how hard they've played each week.
You know a lot has been written, discussed and debated about the team this season. How have the last 12 months shaped your feelings about the approach taken last off-season? The plan to start over from square one and rebuild the team in this manner?
Stephen Ross: There were a lot of narratives this year about our approach that were incorrect. We objectively looked at things and determined that we were a long way from being a Championship caliber team and we needed to take a different approach. We've been bottom 5 in point differential in the NFL 4 of the last 5 years, including 30th last year. So the idea that we made decisions to try to be bad on purpose is ridiculous. We were a team with an aging roster and the most dead salary cap money in the NFL. So we knew that we needed to build it from the ground up, and that's what drove the decisions. A year later, we are now well-positioned to be a very good football team in the future. We have to keep working hard and we have to make good decisions.
You've talked at length about your belief in Brian Flores. What is your evaluation of the job he has done this season?
Stephen Ross: When we went through our search process last year, we prioritized finding the right leader over finding the next offensive guru or something. Brian has proven to be what we were looking for and I believe we found the right head coach. He is establishing an identity for this football team as a smart, tough, aggressive, disciplined team with players who play together and play for each other. He has high standards and holds people around him accountable and he is straightforward and consistent. I think we've gotten better as the season has gone on, so as long as we keep getting better, eventually we will get where we want to be.
Between draft choices and salary cap flexibility, how well positioned do you feel the Dolphins now are to improve?
Stephen Ross: Chris has done a tremendous job putting us in a position to build the best roster we've had here in a long time. With 14 picks in this year's draft including 5 picks in the top 60, and 4 picks in the top 60 next year, we expect to have an influx of young talent coming. He has also cleaned up our salary cap situation and we now have a lot of flexibility moving forward. So we have a lot of reasons to believe we're going to continue to improve over the next two years.
What is the expectation for 2020? Will there be further patience demonstrated towards a long-term rebuild, or are results part of the equation in year-two?
Stephen Ross: The expectation is that we keep getting better. We have great organizational leadership with Tom and Brian and Chris and Brandon and many others. Everyone works together well, challenges each other, and shares the same goals. We need to keep working hard, working together, making good decisions, and eventually we'll get to a place where we can consistently compete for Championships. Our fans deserve that and we'll keep working at it until we can deliver it for them.