Stephen Ross sounds note of patience with Miami Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. -- For an owner who has endured four consecutive losing seasons, Miami Dolphins boss Stephen Ross sounded remarkably patient Wednesday. He resisted any temptation to say he expected a double-digit win total or playoff berth this year, even after committing about $150 million to free-agent acquisitions over the offseason.

"You want to bring back the winning tradition. You want to see progress," Ross said. "We certainly want to make the playoffs, but I want to see growth in the team in building the foundation for this season and future seasons. I don't want to be a one-shot wonder."

Ross spoke to the team before Wednesday's practice, then attended a news conference to discuss the state of the franchise.

"He wants us to get back to being a good franchise," receiver Mike Wallace said. "He shouldn't expect anything less."

Ross said he's high on general manager Jeff Ireland, who is in his sixth season with Miami and perennially on the hot seat.

"I'm committed to Jeff Ireland," Ross said. "I think he's doing a great job."

Ross likes second-year coach Joe Philbin and believes the Dolphins have found a long-term solution in second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who led Miami to a 7-9 record while starting all 16 games as a rookie.

"In pro football you need to have a great quarterback," Ross said. "We certainly believe and hope we've selected that quarterback. I love the guy. I think he's the right person to lead the way."

While there's stability at coach and QB for a change, the Dolphins are searching for a successor to CEO Mike Dee, who's leaving to become president and CEO of the San Diego Padres. Dee led this year's push for public money to make stadium improvements, which was denied by the Florida Legislature.

Ross said the Dolphins are formulating a new proposal for upgrades. Ross declined to say whether he would target the 2014 Legislature with the new plan, or whether it would require approval in Tallahassee.

Moving the Dolphins isn't an option, Ross said.

"This is the best location," he said. "We've got to make it work."

Ross said the search for a new CEO will be narrowed to four candidates in the next week or so, with a hiring expected around Sept. 1.

The Dolphins are 27-37 since Ross became managing general partner in 2009. Last year they endured their worst home attendance since 1980, and the stadium was often half empty for games.

Tickets sales are up more than 10 percent, and Ross expects further improvement when the team wins.

"Miami has a reputation that it's a tough sports town," he said. "You've got to win. When we're winning, we'll get the proper response."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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