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Stephen Ross: Dolphins better without Tony Sparano

The Miami Dolphins appear to be operating in unison these days, with coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland swinging for the fences during an active offseason that has propped up talent on both sides of the ball.

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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has overseen plenty of ups and downs in South Beach during his tenure, but he believes the franchise has turned a corner.

"This organization is functioning the best since the (Don) Shula days, (because) I picked the head coach with Jeff Ireland," Ross told WAXY-AM on Friday, via The Miami Herald.

That wasn't the case with former coach Tony Sparano, whom Ross said "damaged the whole organization" and never recovered from the courting of Jim Harbaugh back in 2011.

"(Sparano) could never put it behind him," Ross said. "I don't think he was the right head coach for the Miami Dolphins. I didn't hire him. We're a much better organization today than then."

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Hurt feelings on Sparano's part were understandable after Ross voyaged to the Bay Area to interview Harbaugh. That meeting went nowhere, but it left a toxic cloud over the organization. Harbaugh wound up in San Francisco, while Sparano -- on the heels of an 0-7 start in Miami in 2011 -- was fired before the end of the season.

Ross remained loyal to Ireland through the wreckage, and the Dolphins today eye a sunnier horizon. Philbin and his general manager are two peas in a pod, and the owner is, at long last, feeling optimistic. We'll see how long this lasts.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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