The Miami Dolphins have an OC, but remain the only NFL franchise without a GM. The lead finalist after interviewing 7 different candidates was Browns Assistant GM, Ray Farmer. Finally the Fins had their answer, the prayers of Dolphins fans around the world had been answered. Problem is… Farmer has to want the job. Like so many candidates before him, Farmer Thursday declined a second interview with the Dolphins. He would rather remain an assistant GM in Cleveland, over becoming the main man in Miami.
The Dolphins organization has been a mess over the last 15 years, but it has become a legitimate comedy of errors this off-season. Recently Jason Licht, high on the Fins’ GM list, chose to take the same position with the Bucs. Licht let the Fins know of his decision to join the Buccaneers front office. In a last stitch effort to nab Licht from Tampa Bay, the Dolphins’ let him know he would be amongst their finalists. They offered him a 2nd interview; he turned down the 2nd interview. He went with the sure thing in Tampa, over the question mark in Miami. Once Patriots and Kansas City GM, Scott Pioli, considered a possible candidate for the Fins GM position, is also off the market. He accepted the Falcons’ Asst. GM position, as it too was a rock solid offer. In both cases indecision on the Dolphins end left them standing in the wind, alone.
The well is running dry for the Fins. The latest name to pop up in the Dolphins’ GM sweepstakes is Brian Gaines. He is the Fins’ current Assistant GM. This is a surprising name, considering Gaines worked directly under the much-maligned former GM Jeff Ireland. Gaines, however, is less of an Ireland guy and more of a Parcells guy. He worked with Bill Parcells both with the Jets and Dolphins. Gaines, at 40 years of age, does have the youth angle the Fins have been looking for, from their candidates. The Dolphins have mentioned only one candidate, Brian Xanders, who had previously been a NFL GM. The Dolphins found their OC, and it seemed the trend of being the ugly stepchild of the last few seasons, had been broken. They finally had a guy they highly sought choose them over another possible place of employment. However, this General Manager search has given the Miami Dolphins fan-base that familiar feeling of being lost and left behind.
Why the trepidation and pure aversion from possible candidates toward even the thought of interviewing, let alone accepting the Dolphins GM position? Many factors could go into that sentiment; the Dolphins are a unit with many holes. A young quarterback who has shown promise, but minimal growth in his first two seasons. The offensive line will be in need of 4 new starters, to surround Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey. The recently overhauled line-backing core did not perform up to expectations, leaving the South Florida faithful with a bitter taste in its mouth. Plus the Fins have a major lack of depth all over the roster. This can be attributed to the inefficient draft classes, specifically the 2013 class, that saw little time on the playing field. This lack of playing time doesn’t give an incoming general manager much to work off of when trying to decipher the value of each draft pick. These are all legitimate reasons for the lack of interest from potential candidates toward the open general manager position. However, the reason, which seems to stick out as the biggest detractor to the Fins GM spot, is the lack of a specified chain of command. Well with most teams this isn’t much of an issue, the GM deals directly with the owner and has full autonomy. In the best of cases the GM works in sync with the head coach, to fill out the personnel on the roster. It has been said many candidates are unsure who they would report to, and if they would have final say on personnel decisions. Owner Stephen Ross announced last week the GM would report directly to him. This statement didn’t seem to calm the nerves or truly answer the questions of potential candidates.
Executive Vice President of Administration, Dawn Aponte has worked around the league. She was masterful in clearing cap space for the Dolphins leading up to this past off-season. Between her time with the Browns and Jets she has the credentials as a money person in the league. Aponte however is not a personnel person, and her role within the organization has been questioned. It has been strongly rumored that Aponte and head coach Joe Philbin, worked together to have former GM Jeff Ireland ousted form his post with the Fins. Dawn Aponte and Joe Philbin seem to have the ear of owner Stephen Ross, this has created confusion in regard to the chain of command for the next general manager. No candidate wants to come into that situation, as we have seen the multiple denials for interviews by any and all potential candidates.
The Miami Dolphins have become a joke, not on the field, but in the front office. Until it is truly understood who is in charge and their responsibilities, it could be a long time until the Dolphins have a leader in place. Chain of command is not something, often discussed in the hiring of a NFL GM. Usually it is understood well before a candidate is brought in for an interview. The Dolphins are not the usual franchise. The confusion and indecisiveness starts at the top and continues to get in the way, year after year. Until owner Stephen Ross sets a fully understood and believable chain of command, the Fins will remain the lone NFL organization without a General Manager.