Dolphins: Owner Defends Offseason

The Miami Dolphins are struggline with image problems, Fans don't think the team has tried hard enough to improve. The Media is documenting every free agency miss. And experts believe players don't want to go there. One more reason whey owner Stephen Ross is working at public relations and damage control.

Ross defends general manager, team's approach
The Sports Xchange

   Stephen Ross' franchise has taken a beating in the court of public perception since the end of last season, and the Dolphins' owner attempted to set the record straight Monday.

   Ross was snubbed in his efforts to bring Jeff Fisher in to coach the Dolphins, and then quarterback Peyton Manning took Miami off his short list of potential destinations early in his free-agent tour. The shots have been coming from far and wide, with even Steelers safety Ryan Clark saying no one wants to sign with Miami.

   "Players might say that because they were dropped. They didn't make the team. Other players came here and we didn't meet their salary demands," said Ross. "People always want to say something because they like being in the spotlight often times. I know one thing, this is probably the best place in the NFL to play football and it will never stop us from getting another player in this organization."

   When former Packers quarterback Matt Flynn signed with Seattle over Miami and the Dolphins traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to Chicago for a pair of third-round picks, it led to a group of fans protesting. Ross went so far as to call two of them personally.

   He said, "There's a whole plan that we have set forth. Some things go well; some things don't go as you would have like them to go. I think you know what I'm referring to from that standpoint with regard to Peyton Manning.  We're looking to really take this football team to a different level."

   Ross has been particularly troubled by the backlash toward general Jeff Ireland, who he believes is an excellent football mind and tireless worker.

   "I think it's unfair. I don't like it. I don't think Jeff likes it," Ross said of the heavy criticism. "I think it's unfair. I think the ideas were the fact that we didn't get Peyton Manning. I think the fact that we are right in the middle of the process. It's an unfinished product and I think to judge him at this point in time is not the right thing to do by anybody."

   Ross indicated that he wasn't prepared to give Smith or Flynn the $8 million per season they were requesting. He believes in Matt Moore, and the Dolphins intend to draft a quarterback next month.

   In Ross' mind, much of the discontent among the fan base centers around Manning not even seriously considering the Dolphins.

   "I think it came down to ... where he didn't know anybody in our house. He wanted to be comfortable," said Ross. "He'd been at two teams his whole life and I think he judged it based on the fact where he would feel most comfortable where he had familiar faces around him. Because that's what he was used to. But you know we gave it a big effort. He was the only franchise quarterback out there that we saw and what he could do for that team. Look it... I went after him. If I didn't go after him I wouldn't be interested in really winning. I want to win today not tomorrow. It didn't happen."

   Ireland said he doesn't regret stating the team needed to address the quarterback position, only to be two weeks into free agency having only added David Garrard. And the heat he is feeling from the fan base is part of the job.

   "I think adversity is the companion of a champion or the enemy of the weak," said Ireland. "So I believe in that. With responsibility becomes visibility and you know like Steve (Ross) said we have some passionate fans, as passionate as any place I've ever been. They have a right to voice their opinion and we've got to do a better job of communicating with our fans and making sure that we're a little bit more transparent of what we're trying to get accomplished."

   Ross said the Dolphins dismissed the idea of pursuing Tim Tebow after talking to coach Joe Philbin, who said Tebow didn't fit his system.

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