Dennis Hickey joins Dolphins as GM

Updated: January 28, 2014, 6:27 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is aware of the national perception of his team. The Dolphins recently have been viewed as "dysfunctional," among other things, during their arduous general manager search.

Their internal structure has been in question. But Ross defended his team Tuesday during the introductory news conference for new general manager Dennis Hickey.

Miami hired Hickey after two prior candidates -- Nick Caserio of the New England Patriots and Lake Dawson of the Tennessee Titans -- turned down the Dolphins last weekend. Both candidates were uneasy with being on equal footing with Miami second-year coach Joe Philbin, who is 15-17 in two seasons.

According to Ross, Miami's coach and general manager will report directly to the owner, while Dolphins vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte will report to the general manager.

"I set out what the characteristics I was looking for, and people might have other ideas in their mind," Ross said of the long process. "I think it is pretty clear in structure how we are. We're not an unusual structure. The GM reports to me, the coaching reports to me and everyone knows their responsibilities."

Ross said he has a lot of "faith" and "confidence" in Philbin and confirmed that's a major reason why other candidates backed out. Miami's general manager will not have the power to fire Philbin this year or beyond.

Philbin has yet to have a winning season in Miami.

"The answer is yes," Ross confirmed of his edict to keep Philbin. "We're not playing fantasy football. We're playing football where you make decisions. You look at the great organizations, there's consistency from within. You don't just change every time something goes wrong or you don't win the game. You don't just replace everybody."

Hickey was not Miami's top choice. But he comes to the Dolphins after 18 years of experience with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is most experienced with college scouting, which is needed in Miami.

Hickey also said Miami's structure didn't bother him.

"The structure was completely clear and laid out as Mr. Ross [said]," Hickey said. "That was a draw to me. To have a chance to work with talented people, a talented leader, a leader of men that is a teacher and has a great coaching staff, that was exciting."

The Dolphins fired former general manager Jeff Ireland after five consecutive non-winning seasons. Ross admitted there were internal issues between Ireland and Philbin and a change needed to be made.

Ross also said he expects the Ted Wells NFL investigation into the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying scandal to be released after the Super Bowl. It's unlikely that either player will be back with the Dolphins next season.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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