Greg Stoda: Maybe new GM Dennis Hickey will be great, but Miami Dolphins look like bumblers for now


The Dolphins have a general manager they could get, if not the one they wanted.

That’s the best way to describe how Dennis Hickey, who had been Tampa Bay’s director of player personnel the past three years, came to be announced Sunday as Jeff Ireland’s successor.

How far down the list of Miami candidates Hickey actually ranked is guesswork, but at least two – New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio and Tennessee vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson – turned down the job, and several others either declined interviews or pulled their names from consideration after having held meetings.

The Dolphins settled.

There’s no way around it.

It took them a ridiculous amount of time to replace Ireland, who was fired Jan. 7, and they looked more and more dysfunctional as every day passed without a hire. Neither does the naming of Hickey change how inept the Dolphins must appear to be to other NFL franchises.

Don’t think so?

Hickey reportedly wasn’t even considered for the available general manager’s job in Tampa Bay, which went to Jason Licht, who was interviewed for the Miami gig before going to the Bucs.

Who knows if Hickey would even have remained employed by Tampa Bay?

The connecting of those dots draws an ugly picture of the Dolphins.

Hickey does deserve the benefit of the doubt that should come with starting anew, and it’s difficult to imagine him suffering in comparison to Ireland.

But that’s nothing if not setting the bar atrociously low.

And he’s stepping into a treacherous situation in which the power structure among Hickey, coach Joe Philbin and executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte is murky. This is true even though owner Stephen Ross on Sunday said Hickey will have full control over football personnel, albeit without the right to fire Philbin.

One thing Hickey must realize is that a Philbin-Aponte alliance resulted in Ireland’s ouster.

There also certainly exists the possibility that the entire group — front office and coaches alike — is on the shortest of Ross’ leashes (see: one year) if the Dolphins fail to make the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

What a scenario under which Hickey will begin his stewardship.

There’s no telling who’s steering the ship when there are too many hands on the rudder. And it’s Hickey who’ll be the stranger in Miami’s very strange land. All of this is without mentioning assistant general manager Brian Gaine, who was a finalist for the job Hickey just got. What will their relationship be like if, that is, Gaine remains employed by the Dolphins?

It’s a high-wire act the Dolphins are asking Hickey to perform as a rookie GM, and one, it appears, without a net.

To suggest it’s a complicated mess is an understatement.

The meandering search for a general manager was misery heaped on top of an 8-8 season that ended with consecutive losses to Buffalo and the New York Jets that cost Miami a place in the playoffs. The Dolphins first looked indecisive regarding Ireland’s future and subsequently looked desperate when replacing him.

Hickey has to integrate himself into a workplace best described recently as dysfunctional. The evaluations of him will begin immediately upon his introduction Tuesday, and the Dolphins could do worse than to present a united front by having Ross, Aponte and Philbin in attendance.

The biggest test awaiting Hickey, of course, is the upcoming NFL draft … and he long was in charge of college scouting for the Bucs before assuming the player personnel post.

Maybe he’ll be a GM genius.

The Dolphins can only hope they wandered their way into finding exactly who they needed even if it wasn’t who they wanted.


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