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The Miami Dolphins' 2012 season could not have gotten off to a worse start on Sunday, and no one is feeling the heat more than general manager Jeff Ireland. The man who has assembled the Dolphins' current roster could find himself on the hot seat if his team does not bounce back from Sunday's 30-10 loss to the Houston Texans.
The Miami Herald reported Sunday morning that team owner Stephen Ross does not have "blind faith" in Ireland. A business associate of Ross' told the Herald that Ireland's job will be in jeopardy if the team struggles in 2012 as much as it did in 2011.
"Steve really likes Jeff personally and gives him the benefit of the doubt," the source told the Herald. But unless the Dolphins show some signs of life, Ross will be more likely to blame Ireland for the team's struggles than new coach Joe Philbin.
The Dolphins will get a chance to bounce back next week when the Oakland Raiders visit Sun Life Stadium, but recent history suggests the dismal debut does not bode well. In 2011, the Dolphins lost the season opener to New England in a 38-24 blowout that was not as close as the final score indicates. The team went on to lose its first 7 games en route to a 6-10 record.
A number of Ireland's recent moves give Ross plenty of ammunition for criticism. Ireland traded Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall for a draft pick (Miami's starting receivers combined for 5 catches for 45 yards Sunday).
Ireland also traded starting CB Vontae Davis for a draft pick late in the preseason (Davis may have come in handy against Texans WR Andre Johnson, who caught 8 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown Sunday).
If Stephen Ross was to fire Ireland, he would certainly have the support of some Dolphins fans. The creators of the blog FinsNation.com flew a banner that read "Mr Ross: Save Our Dolphins, Fire Ireland" at the Dolphins' last home game of the 2011 season.
Even if Ireland is fired, it could take some time to fill the holes he has left on the roster at receiver, offensive line (Houston recorded three sacks Sunday) and the defensive secondary. While it is possible Sunday's meltdown was just a fluke, that is little comfort to fans fed up with the steadily diminishing returns of the Ireland regime.