Wall Street Journal wrote:
How the Miami Dolphins Fell Aparthttp://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1 ... 3957500994
In April, in the fifth round of the NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Caleb Sturgis, a kicker from Florida. He signed with the team for an annual salary of $406,000.
To the larger world, this was a routine and uneventful transaction. But in interviews with current and former NFL players, player agents and team executives familiar with the inner workings of the Dolphins, the news hit team members like a bomb.
The Dolphins already had a kicker, a five-year starter named Dan Carpenter who was well-liked by everyone and good at his job. To NFL insiders, the subtext was clear: Carpenter's $2.7 million salary was getting expensive for a kicker, and NFL teams don't take kickers in the draft unless they plan to use them.
The writing was on the wall. Carpenter was on his way out.
To Miami's team leaders, who'd grown weary of management's tendency to cast off popular veterans, the decision was a gut punch. They didn't plan to accept the move without making their displeasure known.
Seven months later, the Dolphins are a shambles. After spending a staggering $146 million on free agents in the off-season—at least $10 million more than any other NFL team—they have lost starting guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons, and starting tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the team over what he has described as a culture of harassment and bullying.
After being a trendy preseason pick to win the AFC East, the Dolphins are 4-5 and a long shot to make the playoffs. The team is the subject of an NFL investigation, and its locker-room environment is being held up as an example of the dysfunctional culture of the NFL.
Whatever the investigation reveals, people familiar with the Dolphins said these problems reflect a broader mistake of management: a temptation to undersell the importance of leadership.
"When you look at the Miami Dolphins and you look at how they jettisoned their veterans, it was all a recipe for disaster and it's no surprise they are embroiled in this controversy with Richie at the center," said Louis Riddick, the former personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles. "You think veterans are replaceable but then players emerge as leaders that shouldn't because they say 'I might as well do it' and it's not the kind of people you want young players turning to."
Riddick put the blame squarely on Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins' general manager. "Mistakes of character are on the personnel staff exclusively," he said.