What is Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross thinking?

After the events of this past week, there’s reason to believe that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.

He started the week by flying himself, GM Jeff Ireland and new football “czar” Carl Peterson cross-country to meet with then-Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh about a position that was already being filled by Tony Sparano. In doing so, Ross left Sparano and his entire staff to believe that once he returned, they would no longer be employed by the Dolphins. (The coaching staff even began cleaning out their offices on Wednesday.)

But on Thursday, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported that the Dolphins had “bowed out” of the Harbaugh race and would retain Sparano as head coach. Harbaugh reportedly didn’t want to go to Miami (he signed with the 49ers on Friday), which meant Ross had to tuck his tail between his legs and try to mend fences with Sparano.

Late Friday night, Ross extended Sparano’s contract through 2013 as sort of an apology for what had transpired throughout the week. Sparano will also have an “expanded role in personnel decisions.”

The new contract and expanded role are nice coups for Sparano. But what does it say about Ross’ decision-making if he was ready to drop his current head coach as soon as Harbaugh signed on the dotted line, yet, was so quick to extend Sparano’s contract once Harbaugh told him to buzz off? Does Ross want Sparano to be his head coach or not? And will Sparano forever have this incident to hang over Ross’ head whenever the owner gets an itchy trigger finger in the future?

As an owner, you either believe in your head coach or not. I get that owners may like another head coach’s work, but when you invest millions of dollars in a guy you better have confidence that he can get the job done. And not being able to sign the guy you wanted isn’t a good enough reason to extend your current head coach. Clearly Ross doesn’t have complete confidence in Sparano or else he wouldn’t have tried so hard to bring Harbaugh to Miami.

What a weird situation.

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Dolphins the new front-runners for Harbaugh?

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Soprano works the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on November 28, 2010. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 33-17. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Just when it appeared that the 49ers were the front-runners in the Jim Harbaugh derby, the Dolphins have pulled ahead according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s believed that Miami offered Harbaugh $7-8 million and San Francisco is unwilling to go that high. The 49ers don’t want to get into a bidding war for Harbaugh’s services, so they may drop out of the race entirely.

If the reports are true and the Dolphins have offered Harbaugh $7-8 million a year, it would make him the richest head coach in the NFL. Considering he has zero head coaching experience in the pros, that would make the Miami Dolphins’ brass legally insane.

It appears that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would rather not breathe than bring Tony Sparano back as his head coach. He’s already traveled cross-country to pitch the job to Harbaugh and according to the NFL Network, he offered Jon Gruden $7 million a year as well. (Gruden turned down the offer.)

If these reports are true, then Ross should do the respectable thing and fire Sparano immediately. If he’s going through all of this trouble to replace him, then obviously he doesn’t believe that Sparano is the right fit for the Dolphins. It’s not fair for Sparano or his staff to stay in limbo while Ross runs around the country trying to find their replacements. (Then again, that’s the business, right?)

If Miami does wind up with Harbaugh, Ross better hope that he can work with GM Jeff Ireland. How many times do we see a hotshot college head coach fail in the NFL because he’s overwhelmed from the start? The first-year head coaches who have had success always have two things: a good quarterback and a GM that knows what he’s doing. Recent examples include Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, Atlanta’s Mike Smith and St. Louis’ Steve Spagnuolo. I guarantee you Harbaugh and Smith wouldn’t have had the success they’ve had the past three years if it weren’t for Joe Flacco and Ozzie Newsome, and Matt Ryan and Thomas Dimitroff. And where would Spagnuolo be if it weren’t for Sam Bradford (who was chosen by GM Bill Devaney)?

Granted, it helps that Harbaugh and Smith were NFL assistants at some point too, but Jimmy Johnson did just fine in Dallas and he was a “college coach.” He couldn’t work with Jerry Jones but at the very least, he had Troy Aikman. Jim Harbaugh won’t succeed with Chad Henne, I don’t care how much money the Dolphins throw at him to fix their situation.

Which coaches will be victims of “Black Monday” in the NFL?

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin watches from the sideline during the first quarter in their NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland January 2, 2011. REUTERS/Molly Riley (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Today is “Black Monday” in the NFL, otherwise known as it’ll-be-interesting-to-see-if-I-still-have-a-job-by-the-end-of-the-day…day.

Below is a look at the coaches who are on the hot seat and what the latest rumors are about their job status with their respective team.

Tom Coughlin, Giants
Giants fans hoping that their team would drop-kick Coughlin and hire either Bill Cowher or former defensive coordinator John Fox might not see their wish granted. CEO John Mara was adamant Sunday night that Coughlin would return as the team’s head coach in 2011. The Giants have missed the playoffs the past two seasons but under Coughlin, they’ve made the postseason four times in the last six years. I would venture to say that Coughlin has one more year left before his Super Bowl credit runs out.

Jeff Fisher, Titans
Owner Bud Adams will meet with Jeff Fisher on Monday to discuss his future with the team. This one could get tricky, as Adams loves Vince Young but Fisher would rather stick his fingers down a garbage disposal than have to suffer another year with Young in his locker room. If Adams sides with VY, then Fisher will likely walk. If Adams sticks with Fisher, then Young’s time in Tennessee is over. The NFL Network reported today that if Fisher does leave Tennessee, then he might join the broadcast booth for a year so he can weigh his options.

Eric Mangini, Browns
Mangini had one year to wow Mike Holmgren and that didn’t happen. Holmgren was hoping that the momentum the Browns built at the end of last season would carry over into 2010 under Mangini but it didn’t. The team appears to be ready to move in another direction and word is that Fox is at the top of Holmgren’s wish list. Apparently Holmgren wants to turn Cleveland into the Carolina of the North, so Browns fans should be prepared for another season of Jake Delhomme. (I’m kidding! I’m sure Fox has gotten over his Jake Delhomme obsession by now…)

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Bears to hire Mike Martz as coordinator?

ESPN.com speculates that Mike Martz may have emerged as the favorite to become the Bears’ next offensive coordinator.

As NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Thursday, Perry Fewell is planning to accept an offer to become the next defensive coordinator for the Giants. That’s a big loss — from a public relations standpoint — for the Bears, and Lovie Smith particularly, under whom Fewell worked in the past. In order to save some face, the Bears might pull the trigger on Martz in order to “try to add some credibility to their offseason,” according to a tweet from Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert discussed why the Bears haven’t yet hired Martz, and why they should:

“This is far from an ideal scenario. But there’s little doubt Martz has a long history of implementing dynamic passing games. The Bears have devoted too many assets to Cutler to ignore that. Martz’s history, and his experience in quickly installing a scheme, might give the Bears their best chance at a quick fix.”

Martz generally favors quarterbacks that he can mold into his own, which doesn’t describe Cutler. I agree with Seifert in that this would be a quick fix scenario at best, and a move that appeases some Bear fans more than it solves the team’s offensive woes. That’s not to say that Martz won’t do a good job, but is he the right fit? That’s debatable.

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