The Miami Dolphins' up-and-down season has left the job status of general manager Jeff Ireland uncertain only a few months after he signed a contract extension. But his team's recent return to the playoff picture following a streak of 3 wins in 4 games may have given Ireland some needed job security.
The Miami Herald reported Monday that team owner Stephen Ross has told Ireland that he is not in danger of losing his job anytime soon.
Though Ireland received a contract extension this summer, such a message from Ross seemed highly unlikely only a few weeks ago, when the Dolphins were coming off a four-game losing streak and dealing with the departures of OLs Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.
Ireland had been the focus of reports alleging that he told Martin's agent that his client should "punch" Incognito, who was suspended indefinitely for his role in the team's bullying scandal.
He was also the target of dissent among the fan base, as evidenced by the "Fire Ireland" banner that flew above Sun Life Stadium before Miami hosted the Chargers a few weeks ago.
Sports history is littered with executives and coaches who received votes of confidence from their bosses only to be fired weeks or months later, so nothing regarding Ireland's status is set in stone. If the Dolphins lose their last three games and fail to make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row, Ross might change his tune.
And depending on the findings uncovered by the investigation into Martin's charges that he was the victim of a team culture of bullying, Ross may have no choice but to clean house, including Ireland.
It would be surprising for Ireland to go from a contract extension to the unemployed in a matter of months, but far from out of the ordinary in the NFL, especially considering the Dolphins' track record during Ireland's six-season tenure in Miami.