Where did it all go wrong? (Jimmy Johnson effect)


***Written By Guest Writer T. Forbes***

I have been a Fish fan since the late 70’s and I have and always will bleed Aqua and Orange.  I started sneaking in the OB with my Dad and Brother at the age of 6 and the thought that my dad would break the law to see a Dolphin game with his sons makes me proud to be his son.  I was there for the hook in lateral from Harris to Nathan and I was there when the 46 Defense came to town. I have seen every Dolphin game played for the last 30 years, live or on television and want to give my insight to where it all went wrong.

62-7 was the final score of the last game of the Marino era which also was the last game that Jimmy Johnson coached.  In the aftermath of that game Jimmy recommended his replacement be his best friend Dave Wannstedt.  At the time owner Wayne Huizenga trusted Johnson’s opinion and turned the reigns over to Dave without hesitation or even a real interview of another coach. Dave was not only named the coach, but he was the GM as well.  This friend was the beginning of the longest period of non relevance in Dolphin history. The problem was there was no system of checks and balances.

 “If I’m going to be asked to cook the meal, I’d like to be able to pick the groceries.”     – Bill Parcells

Dave Wannstedt was not a bad coach he was just not a head coach. He always did well as a coordinator but in my opinion this was his ceiling.  I don’t know if the stage was too big, his managerial skills wasn’t up to par, if he couldn’t get his hand around the whole team, but Dave is best served as a defensive coordinator and when the stage gets bigger than that he seems to find himself in trouble. (See his time at Chicago or his time as the head coach at Pitt).  Now on the other hand Dave was awful as a GM, there is just no other way to put it.

Wanny always felt his team was one player away from winning it all and he continuously sacrificed the Dolphins future (draft picks) for someone he thought would get him over the hump for that year. Other than Ricky Williams Dave really never bought in any talent, even his defensive picks weren’t very good (Moore, Fletcher) and when folks started saying he was on the hot seat He started giving out high draft picks for mediocre players to save his job.  In the end Dave left the team with an over the hill defense who was mainly drafted by Jimmy, no talent on offense, no true young talent to develop less than a full arsenal of draft picks for the future coach.  The Dolphins had a separate GM and head coach during the Cam Cameron cup of coffee but went back to the Head Coach/GM model under Nick Saban (btw is he the Alabama head coach?) And to be honest Nick is considered a great coach and I happen to agree with this but his record as a GM was not better than Randy Mueller who was released when Saban came to town.

So in my opinion the Dolphins stated down the wrong path when they started to think everyone would be like Jimmy and could cook the food and buy the groceries.  Over the years this model just hasn’t worked and even if you look to the genius amongst us (Bellecheat) and study his drafts I don’t think you will be overly impressed with the talent they bring in early in the draft keeping in mind that they always have more picks than anyone else. I think that Mr. Ross got it right when he came in and wanted to make sure that he had a separation of powers and to make sure that he had someone that the Head Coach reported to and was responsible for acquiring talent.  This way we have continuity in the organization as coaches come and go and there is no pressure to make bad deals in the effort to save your job.  Ross showed that this was his plan when he stuck with Ireland and refused to give that type of control to Jeff Fisher which ultimately made him go running to the Rams.  I think as long as we have someone who is skilled at acquiring talent which I happen to believe that we do and have a coach who is committed to developing that talent the cycle of mediocrity and irrelevance should be broken.  Go Phins!!!

(I want you all to thank our first guest writer and I encourage you all to pitch in, this site is OURS and I am open to making it whatever we can make it so please feel free to follow T. Forbes example, it comes at the perfect time because I have landed some big contracts and my time will be limited so I appeal to any with the desire to contribute in any way you can)

8 thoughts on “Where did it all go wrong? (Jimmy Johnson effect)”

  1. Hey Al thanks for keeping me str8, I probably need to do a little more in terms of finding refernces. I may have the titles a little fuzzy but I think Dave had total control over his personnel but was stripped of it his final year(04 I think) that’s when speilman was anoited as the GM. Speilman was bought in by Dave with him from Chicago as a personnel director to run the front office but i am prettey sure Dave hired Speilman.

  2. Er, cross checking, I noticed Speilman was the first official GM (2004) and then came Meuller who was officially GM during Saban’s short stint (though Saban has overruling powers as part of the condition to lure him away from college).

  3. I must say that Wannstedt being in charge of talent is not accurate. Though the Fins never had a formal GM position in its history until they made Randy Meuller one, Vice President of Player Personnel – Rick Spielman was the man in charge of talent picking during Wanny’s tenure.

  4. Actually Jimmy traded the draft pick before the draft and that is why he was not in a position to get Moss. I agree that we have a very good front office and hopefully Joe can get this team winning sooner rather than later…I would hate to lose any of these folks if it can be avoided continuity is very important to winning IMO

  5. I personally have always had reservations about how good JJ was. Was he a good drafter or was he fortunate in Dallas that he had high picks or Emmit dropped to him – was he seriously considering Mandarich over Aikman.

    He never got things together in Miami. Drafting down and missing Moss for example.(I think)

    Coaching wise and draft wise there were significant problems even when Don was here – Milner+Greene were two busts 1st + 2nd in same year. He could not draft a running back in the later years although no-one has since. Has Jeff actually done this with Thomas and Miller.

    Is the much maligned Jeff actually going to turn out to be very good and will Philbin make the most of the talent available. If the last two drafts pan out then the answer will be yes.

    I think the current Front Office set up and personnel is the best for some time and this will reap dividends in the very near future.

  6. I would appreciate it if and when you see the errors that it will be brought to my attention I can correct them right away. Spell check can only do so much and my spelling and grammar can always improve with you folks help.

    I can also give you access to make those corrections if you want but I only request that you not alter any articles no more than needed to allow the writer to have it portray their intent as much as possible.

  7. No problem! I am a busy during this time myself looking to add new contracts so I know the feeling. I will try to write a couple of pieces this weekend that you can have for those days when time won’t permit. Also if you get caught in a bind you can always shoot me an email and I can put together a quick post so that we keep content fresh. I see some spelling and gramatical errors that i hope over time will get better. GO PHINS!!!!

  8. Thank You Once again T Forbes, I really enjoyed this article and agree that Dave sent us into purgatory….We are finally starting to move in the right direction IMO…

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