Dolphins PR counters Fox’s Tannenbaum rumor

Ross TannenbaumYou’ve got to hand it to the Dolphins PR department as they responded quickly to the recent FoxSports.com note discussing rumors of interim coach Dan Campbell falling under complete control of Football Operations czar Mike Tannenbaum.

Here’s what FoxSports.com wrote:

Here’s a big factor to consider as it pertains to Campbell’s chances of being named Miami’s full-time head coach: Sources say team executive VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum has a strong say right now when it comes to who plays on Sundays. That’s power usually reserved for the head coach. However, since Campbell doesn’t have much experience, Tannenbaum is in charge and Campbell seems to be just fine with that.

Tannenbaum likes to have control. He always has. If Campbell leads this team to a strong finish, his ability to co-exist with Tannenbaum and abide by his wishes for a big say on game-day decisions could make him a legit candidate.

The Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross have been criticized by a number of media outlets over their complex and multi-layered front office org chart. With Tannenbaum running football ops, he oversees GM Dennis Hickey and the head coach. There’s also Dan Marino, who walks around as a “special advisor” and Dawn Aponte, the team’s salary cap and contract czarina. She enjoys access to Ross’ ear lobes.

We have no idea if the Fox story is true. But we do know the Dolphins PR department viewed Fox’s short paragraphs on the scene as potentially damaging, if not inaccurate. And they quickly arranged for the Miami Herald to gain access to Tannenbaum.

Newspapers walk a line between being shills and making decisions to ensure favored-nation access to rumors and breaking news. In this case, The Herald decided to portray the Dolphins’ side of the Tannenbaum story and they published a piece calling Tannenbaum a benevolent leader.

From the sound of the story he doesn’t really do much except figure out the grass for the canopied stadium, discuss analytics with a baseball team and provide advice/encouragement/criticism. Why does this need to be such a senior role in the organization?

“Dan and I have a great partnership,” Tannenbaum told the Miami Herald on Friday.

“We collaborate and discuss a lot of different things. [But] at the end of the day, who plays is determined by Dan. I’m fully supportive of his decision.”

There is an important caveat: Tannenbaum, on behalf of owner Stephen Ross, will scrutinize most every decision that Campbell makes over the season’s final seven games. — Miami Herald

The corporate world comes rife with political intrigue. When people have big salaries, stock options or jobs that are hard to come by — and let’s face it, NFL jobs are RARE — people will do what they have to do to survive. Currying favor with your boss, projecting impact, etc. becomes paramount. When things are going right, it’s easy to take and magnanimously dispense credit. When things fall apart complex org charts decay into “every man for himself.” The art of subtly dodging blame while placing it on underlings and co-workers keeps smooth operators employed.

The bottom line is this:

If the Dolphins hope to land a serious coach — if Campbell doesn’t manage a major miracle including a playoff berth and perhaps a one-round victory — the Dolphins will never land a serious coach capable of challenging the Patriots AFC hegemony. No one of that caliber — unless they are besties with Tannenbaum — will take the job.

The Dolphins need a simplified front office.

Find a GM and provide total control over everything including the coach or vice versa.

Contracts/Salary Cap, Football Ops, Scouting, Analytics, Marino, etc. should be a positions reporting to the anointed leader. Period.

Only ONE PERSON….ONE….should report to Ross from the football side of the business. No more “consultants” or “advisers.” The price for having this much control — blame. You fail, you’re done. Most people who seek that much control don’t think they’ll fail.

This is the only system capable of allowing Ross to restore confidence among elite NFL front office people and coaches. Everything else will be considered career-killing chaos and the best will avoid Miami.