The book on the Miami Dolphins 2011 season hasn’t been completely written yet. Unfortunately, the remaining chapters of the book will be filled with the Dolphins playing the ‘spoiler’ role. The Dolphins are currently 3-8 and for all intents and purposes, are eliminated from playoff contention. We know it was even crazy to talk about the playoffs when the team was 3-7, but the team looked so good in their previous 3 games, many Dolphins fans got their hopes up. Now, the best the Dolphins can do is finish at 8-8 and play spoiler to the remaining teams left on their schedule (Raiders, Patriots, Bills, Jets, Eagles).
Even before the Dolphins Thanksgiving Day loss to the Cowboys, we knew it would be a long shot for Tony Sparano to return. However, the talk about Sparano’s job security had died down during the winning streak. I fully expect that talk to surface again in the next couple of weeks. Before the Dolphins season started, Stephen Ross said that Sparano needed to ‘win’ this season to keep his job. That’s a very vague goal. However, taken literally, Sparano AT LEAST, needed to have a winning season and likely needed to make the playoffs, to return as Dolphins coach. At this point, neither of those goals are achievable.
So now, it’s just a matter of time. Will Ross give Sparano until the end of the season? Or will he decide to fire Sparano with a few games left in the season? It’s no secret that Ross is eager to make a change. In January, Ross made a not-so-secret trip to California to talk to Jim Harbaugh about the Dolphins coaching job…..if only he could have persuaded him to come to Miami! There have also been numerous reports that Ross has reached out to Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher. He wants a big name coach and he wants one in a bad way. I think it’s likely that Ross will finally fire Sparano sometime in mid-December. This will allow the Dolphins to speak with other coaches before the season is over and before other teams begin their interviewing process.
With each Dolphins loss the rest of the way, we can expect the media and fans to speculate about when (not if) Sparano will finally get the ax. After all, his time with the Dolphins has gotten progressively worse. After an AFC East Title his first year, the team’s record has regressed (11-5, 7-9, 7-9, 3-8). There really is no reason to continue the charade, as well all see the writing on the wall. It’s time for a new voice at head coach, a new philosophy in the front office, and time to add new talent to the roster. Sparano watch is back on, stay tuned to see when it’s finally cancelled.