WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When a couple dozen protesters showed up outside the Miami Dolphins' complex last week, owner Stephen Ross took notice. So he called two of them, asking what the team could do better.
"We all have one thing in common," Ross said. "We all want to see a winning football team."
And while speaking Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting, Ross said he believes the Dolphins are getting better, even after trying in vain to land quarterback Peyton Manning earlier this offseason, along with past coaching candidates such as Jim Harbaugh and Jeff Fisher, both of whom also spurned Miami.
Those have been the three highest-profile known pursuits Ross has made since taking over the Dolphins, and he said he isn't deterred by going 0 for 3.
"I'll do it again and again," Ross said. "I'm going to be bold. You know what -- you don't lose for trying. And if I can find the right guy, I'm going to be bold in getting him. I can't worry about losing. Because nothing ventured is nothing gained."
Ross made a big change late last season, firing Tony Sparano and eventually bringing in former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to take over as coach. Ross raved about Philbin on Monday, saying he's already "better than I thought."
The Dolphins made little secret about their interest in Manning, the four-time NFL MVP who was cut loose by the Indianapolis Colts and became the highest-profile free agent on the market this offseason. Ross even met with Archie Manning, Peyton's father, in December about the notion, and the Dolphins were one of the teams on Manning's list of candidates before he ultimately chose to sign a five-year, $96 million deal with the Denver Broncos.
With Manning gone, the Dolphins also talked with Alex Smith, then wound up signing David Garrard, who presumably will be Matt Moore's backup entering the season. The Dolphins won six of Moore's final nine starts last season, after starting the year 0-7.
"In talking to the coach, he didn't really fit our system," Ross said. "You're not going to bring someone in just to sell seats. Therefore, we kind of dismissed that early on because the coach has an idea where he wants to take this team and how it's going to perform and get players who can really fit in that system. And Tim Tebow didn't fit in that system."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press