Dolphins Winning Excitement
I don’t know whether it was the influence of Stephen Ross or the dearly departed Mike Dee.
But the concept that “excitement” would somehow reverse and solve the declining fan base of the Miami Dolphins was the mantra, the philosophy of this storied franchise, seemingly since Ross took over five and a half years ago.
At that point in 2008, following three out of four losing seasons, the Dolphins lucked out with the late pick up of steady QB Chad Pennington, and won the AFC East title on a soft schedule to go along with the introduction of celebrity owners, orange carpets and stadium entertainment.
The stadium was spiffed up, and the Club area renovated to encourage fans to stay inside, eat and drink in air conditioned comfort, and watch the game on the state of the art TV monitors.
Ross and Dee must have been convinced that the reason fans were suddenly happy was due to the stadium “experience”, and not the “winning” experience.
Millions of dollars continued to be spent on stadium upgrades, while the actual football side of the business seemed to be poorly planned and was identified by continuing personnel gaffes.
To be fair, drafting and free agency missteps occurred freely over a period of years prior to 2008 and contributed greatly to the mess which Ross inherited.
But over a decade or more of futility before and after 2008, fans grew to view management with an increasing lack of confidence in their decision making ability. And stopped coming to see their team lose.
Could it be, though, that things are changing?
Over the past couple of years, after the ghost of debacles past, Bill Parcells, ceased to haunt the stadium, it’s possible that the brain trust is finally getting to work things out. If so, it’s about time.
With season ticket sales at their lowest level for decades, and the fans of opposing teams outnumbering and out-noising Dolfans at home games, things had become desperate.
Desperation can, however, be the catalyst for necessary and smart decisions.
Joe Philbin was one of those decisions; retaining Jeff Ireland was another.
Creating significant cap space was important and led to the addition of several players this off season who fit Philbin’s team philosophy and schemes. And there have been some apparent smart draft decisions over the past couple of years. We’ll see.
I recall reading somewhere at the end of last season that Stephen Ross had given Ireland an ultimatum that the Dolphins had to become a more exciting team.
Ireland obliged by adding Mike Wallace for $60 million or so. Ross, I assume, believes that the addition of this human road-runner will create the excitement the owner craves and bring back the fans. He may have made a great decision. But for the wrong reason.
You might have read recently that Jared Odrick said this. “You can run the most boring defense and offense in the world, and be the most boring thing in the world, but people will show up because you’re winning. That’s what’s going to bring people in.”
I think we Dolfans have been basically saying the same thing in increasing numbers over the past few years. I dearly hope that the introduction of Wallace to the Dolphins offense is a contributing factor to a play-off season. And yes a touchdown bomb or two will be exciting. But if we aren’t winning, it will mean very little in terms of bringing back and introducing Miami fans to Dolphin football. Winning creates excitement, not the other way round.
The Dolphins are not a winning team yet. There are still concerns, with the offensive line as usual being a key. If Tannehill doesn’t have the time to drop back and heave the bomb, so much for the Wallace deep threat.
But this team has made big strides this off season to finally create a winning product on the field and not in the stadium infrastructure.
Yes, it’s about time, and yes it’s kind of exciting!