Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Open Letter to Stephen Ross

We're now just days away from the 2012 NFL Draft, and I'm more worried than excited.

Everybody has an opinion, and I'll say something that few diehard Miami fans will ever concede: I don't know as much about football as Jeff Ireland.

It felt good to get that off my chest. However, the one thing that I do know better than Ireland -- and possibly even better than you, Mr. Ross -- is what the fans want. I've been a season ticket holder since 1987. I bleed orange. I cry aqua. I was literally the first fan to renew my season tickets last season, and was honored by the team for that. I'm fairly sure that I was one of the first to renew this time around.

My biggest fear is that the Miami Dolphins will compromise its future later this week. In a mad scramble to excite fans after two brutal years of miscues, the team will trade up to select a quarterback that seemed like a reach at the eighth overall spot. I have nothing against Ryan Tannehill. He may be the answer. However, if any move involves sacrificing picks from the 2013 draft it will make it that much harder to attract a magnetic GM next year.

No, this isn't a "Fireland" rant. I'm just being realistic. Despite the somewhat easy schedule, Miami will be lucky to win five or six games this season. The team traded away the Pro Bowl MVP, cut Yeremiah Bell, and was dealt the retirement of Jason Taylor. The pocketful of new free agents that have been brought in during the offseason are either backups or would be backups on playoff-caliber teams. The team isn't likely to be very successful this season, and it will only take a few 1pm home games before the scorched fans begin chanting for blood.

Outside of a Cam Cameron-level fiasco, Philbin will be spared the venom of the fans. It will be a different fate for Ireland, and that's why it's imperative that you retain an attractive assortment of what should be high draft picks for the 2013 season. Fans will want an offensive weapon. Tannehill, Blackmon, or Richardson would be great -- and at least one of them should still be there at No. 8. Floyd wouldn't be a bad backup plan if the other three happen to be gone.

This isn't a fan telling Ireland what to do. Every single GM in this league should know more about football operations than the smartest fan. I'm simply reminding you what fans will want, and what to expect if they don't get what they want. There is no way that an offensive lineman or defensive player -- regardless of how talented he may be -- will satisfy fans that saw the team's only Pro Bowl-worthy skill position player unloaded last month.

I don't blame you for the Harbaugh flap last season. It would've been the right call, and we saw that when San Francisco made it to the playoffs. I trust St. Louis will play well under Fisher, and that Denver will improve with Payton Manning. Your heart was in the right place pursuing all of these upgrades, at least as far as fans are concerned. Coming up short on all fronts was unfortunate, but the aim is true. The execution? Well, that's another story.

So, let's go back to Thursday night. The first round will be about the team's future in more ways than the obvious. Don't let anyone on your payroll mess that up.