Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland Admits to Being Frustrated but Defends his Philosophy; Dishes on Flynn and Manning

April 20, 2012 – 5:45 am by Brad Gagnon

During his run as general manager of the Miami Dolphins, Jeff Ireland has swung and missed in a few big spots. Some fans simply won’t forgive Ireland for using back-to-back second-round picks on failed quarterbacks Chad Henne and Pat White, while others hold a grudge for his inability to reel in Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn this offseason.

There was also the botched run at Jim Harbaugh in 2011, but that one should probably fall on owner Stephen Ross. And it’s easy to overlook the role Bill Parcells has played in the bad decisions that have been made in recent years. Ross is quiet and Parcells is no longer employed by the organization, and thus it’s Ireland who’s been nailed to the proverbial cross.

Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland joined 790 The Ticket in Miami to discuss the heat he’s taken from fans and media, his biggest regret, who’s calling the shots on prospects and free agents and Bills Parcells’ involvement with the team. He also elaborated on the separate pursuits of Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning, both of which failed, and the Brandon Marshall trade, which appeared to worsen the receiving corps.

On the criticism he’s faced:

“We don’t really spend a whole lot of time worrying about criticism, to be honest with you. I’m certainly a critic of my own work. I guess you could criticize some draft picks in the past, but you’re not gonna hit on 100 percent of those guys, so sometimes you take a flyer on some guys, you learn a lesson from that and then you move on. But I’m not one to sit and swell up on what people say about me, that’s for sure.”

On his biggest regret thus far in his reign as GM in Miami:

“I don’t have too many regrets, to be honest with you. Pat White would certainly be one of them as a second-round pick that you’ve taken and didn’t pan out. So that’s probably the highest draft choice that we’ve taken that didn’t work out. So I would say that’s probably one of them, but certainly not a regret — wish he had it over again, but you learn and you move on. And at the time we were running the Wildcat and we thought we would continue with that on that path, and obviously that didn’t work out.”

On what happens if he and the coaches disagree on the value of Ryan Tannehill or anyone else:

“Well, I’ll ultimately have the decision to veto the head coach or the offensive coordinator or whatever that may be. But we don’t put players on the board if we’re not completely sold as a staff, especially the head coach and myself. But I can promise you that we’ve got good intel from Mike (Sherman) and Zac (Taylor) and from the quarterback position and we’ve got great resources around the league that we call on just like we would with Mike and Zac. But I’ve got good friends around this league that we’re gonna try to get as many good contacts on as many players as we can.”

If Bill Parcells ever vetoed him:

“Sure. Probably not on draft day, but certainly during the process there’d be guys that I liked that he didn’t and vice versa. There’d be some guys that he liked and I didn’t. And at the end of the day, we didn’t put them on the board where we probably would’ve put them on the board if it was just a one-sided deal.”

If Parcells still has owner Steve Ross’s ear:

“You’d have to ask Steve. I think Steve’s probably, he probably talks to him and I still attempt to talk to him as much as I can. But I don’t know that — you’d have to ask Steve.”

Why Matt Flynn’s not a Dolphin:

“Probably because Seattle offered him a lot more money than we did.”

If there was ever a moment in which he felt any level of confidence the Dolphins would sign Peyton Manning:

“Sure. I don’t think we jump on a plane and fly to Indianapolis if we didn’t get something in our gut that felt right, whether that been just us feeling that way or maybe Peyton or his agent making us feel that way. But certainly had a great, I dunno, six- or eight-hour meeting with him and we asked a lot of questions, we actually watched video with him, had a great give-and-take. So certainly, it was a great moment to be in the room with Peyton. And Steve (Ross) had a good interaction with him as well, and Joe (Philbin) and Mike (Sherman). I mean, we had a good contingency of people there to help sell what the offense was gonna look like. So certainly there was.”

More on the criticism he’s taken from fans:

“Well, I accept the responsibility of the job that I hold. I have a lot of desire to be very good at what I do. I love the passion that our fans have, I share the same passion — and in some cases, some frustration of not getting some things done that you wanna get done. But I am not gonna waver from my beliefs just to make a splash or something like that. That’s just not who I am. I am a firm believer in making sound decisions based on my philosophy and the philosophy that we have as an organization. … But I do love the passion that our fans have. I share with them the same passion, there’s no doubt about it. I love this franchise, like they do. I’m looking forward to next week and what is there for us in the draft, and hopefully that will bring some excitement around here.”

On the notion that players might not want to sign with the Dolphins because of him:

“Well I don’t think it’s because of me, that’s for sure. I mean, this is a great franchise, a great place. I’m a small part of this. Certainly, I think, definitely, players like being in South Florida. I think they like the fish that’s on the helmet, the dolphin that’s on the helmet — there’s no doubt about it. So I would disagree with that statement completely.”

On the notion that the Dolphins got worse at wide receiver in the offseason:

“Well, we didn’t lose Brandon Marshall. We decided to trade Brandon Marshall. So, that was a plan that was in place. So, that was on purpose. So, we have certainly a plan to rectify that. Obviously we got one more piece of the pie to go, in terms of player acquisition. But I felt like our offseason in free agency went well based on the plan that was laid out. We got depth at a lot of different positions. We worked within the salary cap structure that’s in place, and felt like we had some really good acquisitions, in my opinion.”

Listen to Jeff Ireland on 790 The Ticket here (starts at 19:50)

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