Posted: 8:04 pm Monday, January 10th, 2011
By Post Staff
When Dolphins owner Stephen Ross bought the team from Wayne Huizenga in January 2009, he promised then-football boss Bill Parcells that he would stay away from the football operations of the team, and focus only on the business side.
But with Parcells gone, and Ross’ team finishing 7-9 and 30th in points scored, Ross is telling coach Tony Sparano what he wants the offense to look like in 2011 – and it’s not running the football, converting on third-down and relying on good defense, as has been Sparano’s plan since he came to Miami in 2008.
Already, the Dolphins have parted ways with offensive coordinator Dan Henning and quarterbacks coach David Lee. Further, Ross said Monday evening on the team-owned Finsiders radio program that he wants a “different brand” of football next year – an exciting, pass-oriented offense that will bring fans back to the days of Dan Marino.
“I’ve told Tony that, to me, I want an aggressive, creative (offense), not playing just to keep it close,” Ross said on 940-AM. “A little bit more unpredictable, and opening it up. That’s what I think South Florida wants, and that’s what this climate demands.”
Ross told Sparano, essentially, that he’s not in Connecticut anymore.
“One great advantage in Florida as the Miami Dolphins, that other teams don’t have, and that’s we have the weather in August, September and October,” Ross added. “Our players are training in that weather, let’s take advantage of it. Let’s go with a hurry-up offense, let’s wear them down. We’ve never done that. This isn’t the north, where you want to just take it 4 yards and a cloud of dust. I think I look for a different brand. Seeing the Dolphins, how fans want to see them, how we win, we’re going downfield, the days of Dan Marino, the days we all want to go back to.”
Ross spent about 16 minutes discussing Sparano and the bizarre coaching search from the previous week, rehashing much of the same answers he gave Saturday at a press conference. He gave Sparano a two-year contract extension after he publicly left Sparano in the dark about his job status last week.
Ross likely told Sparano of his vision for the offense when they met last Monday afternoon to discuss what went wrong in 2010 and Sparano’s plan for the future. As for not taking advantage of the weather, Ross failed to mention that he asked the NFL last offseason not to schedule early-season 1 p.m. home games, because of the heat. The Dolphins didn’t host a 1 p.m. home game this year until Oct. 24.
Ross also discussed the team’s future at quarterback, but danced around the central issue – will Chad Henne be the starter next year?
“I thought we had, and I still hope we have – I mean, he is our quarterback,” Ross said. “But we got to make sure that that position is really fortified or play better, because we’re not going to be a better team until you can have a great quarterback there.”
Earlier in the interview, when discussing his pursuit of then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, Ross admitted he went after the coach because of “the Michigan influence in me. Everybody knows that I’m from Michigan and been a big booster of that college.” Henne also is from Michigan.
Ross said he was impressed with Sparano’s presentation last Monday, but still felt compelled to check out Harbaugh.
“Even after a great presentation, you’re still asking yourself, ‘We’re not young and naïve anymore, it’s not a snowjob,’” Ross said. “But I felt pretty God damn good about (Sparano), to be very honest with you, because I always had a tremendous amount of respect for Tony.”
Ross said he also talked to a few players after the season to get insight into Sparano.
“I wanted to make sure he didn’t lose the team, because certainly you could say there might have been evidence of that after the New England game,” Ross said. “I assured myself that he still really had the command and respect of the players. … And they like him, they really like him.”