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  Q&A with Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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Phins.com participated in a Q&A session with Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland at the Dolphins Training Facility in Davie, FL. Jeff took questions about this yearís team and what his plans are to continue building up the team in 2010.


Q: How do you feel about the progress that was made this year?

A: Ireland: Last year we were talking about philosophy, having a plan, having a direction, knowing where we are going. That plan hasnít changed. Itís still the same plan. Weíve built a culture in the locker room and weíve competed hard. Weíve got to stay focused, weíve got to stay patient. It takes time to build these things. Are we where we want to be? Hell no, weíre not where we want to be. Iím not happy with it. Tony (Sparano) is not happy with it. Bill Parcells is not happy with it. Weíve got to do a better job coaching. Weíve got to do a better job making decisions, finding players. What I do know is that when we watch the tape, we played some pretty good football. We just (didnít) finish games. We had some of the best teams in this league where we wanted them in the fourth quarter, and we just didnít finish games. Thatís all ďcoulda, shoulda, wouldaĒ, right? Thatís part of not being good enough. Weíre close to being a pretty good football team. Whatís it gonna take (to get there)? Hard work. Weíve got a head coach that is a battleship commander. The guy is unbelievable. Heís able to do things that Iíve never seen other coaches do. Heís able to motivate these guys week in and week out. We set out to build a foundation, and I think thatís pretty well set.


Q: How do you prepare for the possibility of a ďno capĒ year in 2010?

A: Ireland: Thereís a lot of hypotheticals involved because we donít know if thereís going to be a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) next year. Right now we donít know if weíre gonna get one in the last hour, (or) whether there will be an extension like there was last time. So youíve got to be prepared for anything. Our process is to evaluate every player in the league. Who is going to dump salaries? Who is going to have players on their team that they feel like arenít living up to expectations or their salaries? So weíre going through the process of analyzing the salary caps (to determine) where a cap casualty might be.


Q: You have fewer holes to fill now versus when you got here. Will your draft strategy change to start filling specific needs?

A: Ireland: Not necessarily. When you set your board up, you have to be prepared for anything. You still have to find out who the best players in the country are. Just because you may not need a defensive lineman, and we have some good young ones, I believe in building that strength. So it may not be a need, a Ďmustí, on our team, but I believe if thereís one there available and it builds your strength (at the position), fill it. If thereís a great running back there, why not build that strength? I donít think you can really focus in one part of the draft. Iím not spending more time, me personally, analyzing those Ďneedsí relative to the draft board set up.


Q: Are you going to continue to draft players, like Pat White, specifically to play in the Wildcat?

A: Ireland: Hard to say. (The Wildcat) is one of the strengths of our team. Weíre one of the best in the league at it. It was a strength of our offense last year. If there was another piece that would accentuate that, we would go with that personnel move. Pat White was that personnel move (in 2009). Heís accentuated it. So it depends on what type of personnel is out there in the draft as to whether or not we draft another Wildcat piece to the puzzle or not. There would be more conventional-type of personnel in my mind right now, to be honest with you.


Q: Is there any truth to the rumors that you choose White where you did because you didnít want the Patriots to get him?

A: Ireland: Nah. I actually heard that after the draft and kinda laughed at it because if I had Tom Brady it would be hard to take him off the field. I personally didnít think (the Patriots) would do that.


Q: Letís talk about the secondary. Why did you decide not to re-sign FS Renaldo Hill?

A: Ireland: It came down to monetary reasons. Without throwing him under the bus, we also didnít think he was good enough for what we were trying to accomplish. Heís a great player, donít get me wrong. He ran the defense back there (well), but we were looking for something a little different. Heís great player and heís playing great (in Kansas City). You look at it now and heís doing a heck of a job there, soÖ.


Q: Whatís your impression of rookie FS Chris Clemons?

A: Ireland: Heís a big, fast player. Heís still learning the defense; sometimes players learn things differently, at a different speed than another player. Chris came in here and did a nice job competing. Getting him in the games had been a little bit of a struggle, not for him but for us. Once we lost Pat Cobbs, we finally could get him in the games because (of special teams). Heís played well. Heís very fast, probably one of the fastest guys on the team. Heís got great ball skills. Heís tough. He was seeing things sometimes for the first time, so his reaction time was getting better (as the season progressed). As you saw him playing more, itís because he was reacting to things faster.


Q: Whatís your take on CBs Jason Allen and Nate Jones?

A: Ireland: Jason has a role. Is it the role that youíd want from a first round draft pick? Itís not typically what youíd want first round draft picks to do. Jasonís very successful in the role that heís got. Heís probably one of our best special teams players. He comes in and works his tail off. Heís doing what weíve asked him to do. Iím proud of him and I like the role that heís in. Weíll see what his future is as time goes by.


Nateís a guy weíre very familiar with. We drafted him out of Rutgers seven years ago in Dallas and we brought him here when we got here. Nateís one of those guys thatís been a fifth corner, a nickel, played the dime, plays special teams. Heís one of those that just knows everything (on defense), heís dependable. Great kid, passes the word of the head coach on to the younger players and teaches those guys. You just know what youíre going to get with Nate Jones.


Q: What about OLB Cameron Wake, his productivity, and his playing time?

A: Ireland: Itís like with Chris Clemons. Itís not that we ignore the pattern. Itís not that we donít see what you see. Thereís things that these guys have to learn; you have to be comfortable and (they) have to be dependable. You have to know exactly what youíre going to get. Early on, Cameron was a player that we knew what he could do going up the field. But playing the run, we needed to get some things solidified that way and be more dependable in that regard. I think weíre there now, so thatís why I think youíll see him more.


Q: Whatís your assessment of WR Ted Ginn, Jr.?

A: Ireland: Ted Ginn is a player I like very much. I think if you ask the head coach the same question heíll say the same thing, and this why: Ted busts his tail. Did he drop some balls and not come through for us a couple of times? Sure. Thereís situations that heís been in that you wish heíd have finished better. Heís like the rest of the members on the team; weíve got to finish better. I like Ted. Everyone in the world is saying to bench him, but we donít win that Jets game if we bench him. I hand it to the head coach. He said, ĎYou know, Iíve just got this feeling heís going to spark us somehow, that heís going to make a big play. Iím not going to sit himí. That explosiveness is why they drafted him number one. That explosiveness is why heís still playing. That explosiveness is why he has a place on this team. When youíve got a player that is that explosive and can turn a game around, youíve got to give him chances. Youíve got to let him grow. Youíve got to let him gain his confidence back. Hey, I donít like some of the plays Iíve seen out there. He knows that. Iíve told him that. Heís got to get better. If thereís one thing about this regime, if you walk into our office youíre going to hear exactly what you came in there to hear. Thatís the thing about our head coach; heís brutally, BRUTALLY, honest. Heís brutally honest with me, and thatís what I love about him. Weíre brutally honest with each other. And Ted, when he walks into that head coachís office or my office, we tell him exactly what he came in to hear. Donít walk in that door unless you want to hear the truth. Thatís what I love about this head coach. He communicates as well as anybody Iíve ever seen. You can bet that these guys are held accountable. Iím proud to be by his side. Heís not even here and Iím talking about him like heís God. I do like the guy.



Q: Going into your second year as GM, what do you find most enjoyable about your job?

A: Ireland: Sunday around 7 oíclock, after weíve won (laughter). I love my job. Thereís a lot of great things that come with doing this job. Now Iíd be lying to you if I didnít say that it was a pretty stressful job day in and day out. But you just go with it, learn from it. I enjoy very much being in a room with Bill and Tony and learning from Bill and hashing it out with Tony, talking about players. Tony and I talk every single night, sometimes two to three hours talking about personnel, talking about where the directionís going. I enjoy that very much. Those nights I talk to Tony, when Iím out on the road scouting, thatís probably the most enjoyable, second to (winning).

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