Combine Interview: GM Jeff Ireland
GM Jeff Ireland
GM Jeff Ireland

Posted Feb 25, 2010


Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland is in Indianapolis this week to take a close look at more than 300 prospects for this year's draft, but he took some time on Thursday to answer questions from the media. Here is what Ireland had to say on a variety of topics, including Joey Porter and Gibril Wilson.

Q: What's the most important aspect of the combine?

Ireland: "It's really your first opportunity to get to know these kids on an intimate basis. You really focus in on the interview, ask some tough questions, get into the intelligence of the player, what he knows about football. Obviously, the workout part of the thing is important. You want to see them run around in shorts and see if the football ability matches what you're seeing. The reason it's set up the way it is is to see all those things. But the main thing probably is the intelligence of the guy."

Q: How much of an advantage was it to coach the Senior Bowl?

Ireland: "It's a huge advantage, I think. You're getting to see these guys in a more intimate basis. You're seeing them in the film room. You're getting to see them talk football with your coaching staff. You're getting to see them break down film. The advantage of coaching the player (in the Senior Bowl) is not much different than coaching them on your team."

Q: How close is Cameron Wake to being an every-down outside linebacker?

Ireland: "Cameron is getting ready. I can't tell you if he's 100 percent ready. It's a process for him. He's playing a different position. He came a long ways last year. He's, obviously, closer now to becoming a full-time player, but his dominant traits right now are rushing the passer. We've got to get him more focused on playing the run. But he's getting there. We're very pleased with his development."

Q: What's the state of Miami's inside linebackers?

Ireland: "We've got some decent player on our team. I like our linebacker corps. I would say it's a need of the team, sure. It's one of the needs. You've got some age at the position right now. I've got to get younger there, and I've got to get a better performance on the field. Inside and outside are key positions in free agency and the draft."

Q: What's your philosophy on trading down to acquire more picks?

Ireland: "Depends on what's there and what player's available to you. It's different every year. Philosophically, you'd like to accumulate as many picks as you can in the first two or three rounds. If there's an opportunity to trade down and pick up quality picks, you can certainly do that or you can pick the player or move up. There's all sorts of options, but I like accumulating picks if possible."

Q: Where is NT Jason Ferguson in his recovery?

Ireland: "Jason's doing very well in his rehab. He's not quite ready to play today, but he should be ready by the beginning of the season hopefully. Again, he's a free agent. I think Paul Soliai developed very nicely [last] year. You never have enough defensive linemen. We felt like it was a strength of our team, but certainly it's something we need to build. ou can never have enough good players."

Q: How much did OLB Joey Porter's comments before the Super Bowl play into his attempted release?

Ireland: "Nothing on the bearing of why we released Joey. The intent was to release Joey that day, but none of the talk and off-the-field [antics] had anything to do with why we attempted to release him. It's all, basically, performance on the field why we attempted to release him."

Q: Can you still patch it up with Porter?

Ireland: "There's always a chance. Right now, he's a player under contract on our roster. We'll be making those decisions."

Q: Are you willing to work on that?

Ireland: "Tough question, to be honest with you. It goes both ways."

Q: How much further along is Chad Henne after filling in for an injured Chad Pennington?

Ireland: "The process of every team is to develop young players. That's a big organizational philosophy with the Dolphins. You've got to have young players and see them develop. I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know how much better off we would have been with Chad Pennington. I know Chad Pennington was outstanding in 2008, but Chad Henne is our quarterback and the future of our organization right now. I feel like having his play time and experience he had in 2009 is exceptional. I know this kid developed nicely. He got put in tough situations. I'm very pleased with his development."

Q: Entering Year 3 for this front office, does the pressure start rising?

Ireland: "You're in a win-now society. We're in a building process with an organization, too, but it's a win-now. The pressure rises wherever you're at, whether you're trying to build an organization from the ground up. The pressure's always high. Yeah, it's increasing for sure."

Q: Comments on rookie CBs Vontae Davis and Sean Smith?

Ireland: "Sometimes it's a maturation process. To have Sean to come in and start 16 games and Vontae play as much as he played -- one led our team in pass breakups and one led our team in interceptions. When you put these guys on the board, and you finally select them, you like them and you expect them to come in and play and contribute pretty quickly. We felt like we had two young, developing players."

Q: Reaction to CB Will Allen's DUI arrest?

Ireland: "It's something that we're not happy about. He knows that. We've had conversations. We've got to let this process play out. It's something that we don't like, when our players get arrested, obviously. If that affects his status on the roster, we'll let the process play out."

Q: How were WRs Patrick Turner and Brian Hartline sorted out as rookies last year?

Ireland: "We took Pat earlier than Brian. These players develop in different stages. We just had Patrick on the board higher. Brian came in and learned the offense very well and did a nice job of developing quickly and learned a couple different positions at the same time. Brian, getting the playing time that he did, is ahead of Patrick right now. Patrick has to step it up. He's a player for the future. We like the player very much. He's a big, huge target, which this quarterback needs. We feel very good about his development."

Q: Did Turner lose confidence?

Ireland: "I didn't see that. I didn't see the guy lose confidence."

Q: Where are Tyler Thigpen and Pat White on the depth chart?

Ireland: "That's a question for (Coach Tony Sparano) to answer. Pat was the No. 2 pretty much all year long, and Thigpen was No. 3. Now they've got to go back into training camp and the offseason program and they're going to be fighting for the No. 2, No. 3 position. I think Tyler's going to go into it thinking, 'I can win this job,' and Pat's got to do the same thing. We feel like we've got three young, good quarterbacks on this roster that can contribute to this team."

Q: What is the interest level in bringing back Chad Pennington?

Ireland: "We've talked to Chad on a number of different avenues. Obviously, that's a decision that would show you my cards on where we're going in our offseason plan. I like Chad a lot. I think he's tremendous for the team, a tremendous leader. But those decisions will be coming later."

Q: Your thoughts on S Gibril Wilson's season?

Ireland: "I think he took a lot of the rap back there. He was playing with two young corners. A lot of things that the fans or the media would try to blame him on weren't always his fault. But we have our evaluation of Gibril Wilson. We know what kind of player he's capable of being. I think he's going to be a very good player for the future. He's disappointed in his play last year. He would tell you that. He could play better. I think he will."


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