As he has done in the past, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross took questions from the media at the start of the season. And as usual, Mr. Ross was not shy about answering questions. More than anything he conveyed his confidence in the team.
When asked how he feels about the team, Ross had this to say, "When you look at this team and you look at the roster, I think everybody looks at it as saying, 'Hey, this is the best roster you've seen in Miami in many years’". Clearly the addition of high profile players such as Ndamukong Suh has Stephen Ross feeling like he has a competitive roster.
This would of course make me think that the expectations for Coach Joe Philbin would also increase. Coming into his fourth season without any playoff appearances certainly has the fan base losing patience with Philbin.
When asked if he expects Philbin to lead the team to the playoffs this year, Ross had this to say, "He's expecting to make it, and I'm expecting to make it." That certainly sounds like Ross will be unhappy with Philbin if the team does not make the post season.
Considering the amount of money Ross has invested in both players and facilities, it is not all that surprising he is expecting a playoff berth in return for those investments. Speaking of facilities, Ross was asked about his excitement level related to the stadium renovation, and he had this to say, "In being successful in any business, it's handling all of the details in every aspect of it. So I think yes, the fans want to go to a place where it's more comfortable, their experience is enhanced. And that's what we've done. I think, when you see it, though it all won't be there this year, you'll get a good idea. You've seen the tapes, you've been in the rooms, it's pretty exciting. It doesn't exist anywhere. People are buying tickets, buying suites, paying money that no one would have expected that they would have.
“We've really kind of changed the whole way that people look at stadiums,” Ross continued. “I think we're the model of what a stadium should be. Miami is getting really a brand new stadium."
It never has been a secret that hosting another Super Bowl has been a high priority for Ross. When asked if he thought Miami could win the bid for one of the upcoming Super Bowls, Ross replied, "I would hope so. When you see what we've done, I don't think there's a stadium in the country that really could compete with us, and it's going to be state of the art. It's Florida, everyone wants to be here, you're going to be coming off the (Super Bowl) in Minneapolis - is that the game that's the previous one before they award the next game? And I would think they would be ready for a little warm weather. You would hope. You would think. (laughing).”
After seeing the beautiful upgrades happening to the stadium, I personally can't imagine why the Miami Hurricanes (who want to opt out of their contract to play home games there) would not be excited to play at Sun Life Stadium. When asked what he thought about the Hurricanes wanting to opt out, Ross was right to the point. He simply said, "They have a long term contract, and I expect them to live up to that contract."
As for player expectations, anyone that follows the Dolphins knows that the local media has been highly critical of Ryan Tannehill. That did not sway Ross from signing Tannehill to lucrative long term deal this offseason. When asked about his thoughts on Tannehill, Ross offered the following, "Ryan has all of the ingredients to be an elite quarterback. If you look at his performance, he's gotten better every single year. I think with the tools he has around him now, he will continue to get better, and I think you'll see that with our wins and losses. You've got to start with the quarterback. I can't think of a better person, a guy with the talent, the brains, and the athletic ability combined to really lead this team."
Ross was also not afraid to comment on questions outside of the Miami Dolphins. He made it clear that he was in favor of how the NFL has handled the Tom Brady deflating ordeal. On that note, Ross said, "I have a lot of confidence in Roger (Goodell) and the league office. I've dealt with him, as you know, with a little controversy not too long ago, and they're very objective. I don't have all of the facts, I don't think any of us really have all of the facts, but I think the league takes everything into consideration, and I have a lot of faith in what the league rules.
“When it happens to you, everybody is always upset, it's a natural reaction. I have a lot of confidence that the league has done the right thing. They have the facts and I think Roger (Goodell) tries to treat everybody fairly."
Finally, in what ended up being a lightly controversial comment, when asked if Miami was still a "Dolphins City" or if the Miami Heat had taken over, Ross had this to say, "If you just look at our sales and how the fans are responding to that and the excitement, I think the Heat is a different organization now that LeBron James isn't there. I think the Dolphins are a team that's kind of capturing the imagination over the whole entire fan base here in South Florida."
Of course some of the hard core Miami Heat fans took exception to that, but it is hard to argue with Ross’s comment. Maybe, just maybe, the time has come for the Miami Dolphins to rise back to prominence.
This story was written by Chad Ronnebaum. Follow him on Twitter @Gofins4SB.
Edited by Eldon Jenson @EJFootball
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