After a disappointing start to the season, the Miami Dolphins became the first team in the NFL to make a change in a key leadership position with the firing of head coach Joe Philbin. It seems very possible that general manager Dennis Hickey could be the next to go, as the Dolphins are in a situation where they need to clean house. The franchise has been missing a proven winning direction for years, and leadership looks necessary.
Less than two years ago, Hickey took the Dolphins general manager position after numerous other candidates turned it down. Sources with Tampa Bay had told WalterFootball.com that new Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith were going to let Hickey go, but prior to that, he fell into the Dolphins position.
Hickey had been leading the Bucs scouting department for a long time, and the lack of talent resulting from his poor drafts played a huge role in the firing of two general managers (Bruce Allen, Mark Dominik) and three head coaches (Jon Gruden, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano). Now, a fourth can be added to that list with Philbin. Clearly, Miami needs a new direction in the organization, and it should look to a familiar face in Green Bay Packers senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith.
Highsmith was a water boy for the Dolphins during the early 80s. He was close with Don Shula's family and went to high school with Mike Shula. Highsmith was a high school All-American in Miami and starred at the University of Miami before playing for the Oilers, Cowboys and Buccaneers. After his NFL playing days ended, Highsmith was a professional boxer and compiled a 27-1-1 record in his pugilist career.
Executives from around the league say that Highsmith has one of the best eyes for talent in the NFL and has played a massive role in assembling Green Bay's roster that has yielded a series of playoff appearances and Super Bowl Championship. Not only do they say that he has a great eye for talent, but he works tirelessly, and is especially good at scouting quarterbacks. Highsmith has played with and has been a part of teams with great quarterbacks going back to playing with Shula in high school. He was a teammate of Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde in college at the University of Miami. Highsmith played with Warren Moon and Troy Aikman in the NFL, while being part of Brett Favre's tenure in Green Bay and was part of the Green Bay drafting and developing Aaron Rodgers into the best quarterback in the league.
Highsmith has learned under some of the best general managers in the NFL over the past 15 years in Ron Wolf and Thompson, so he's ready to lead a franchise in the general manager position. He also learned from coaching greats in Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Don Shula, and his father Walter Highsmith.
Highsmith was hired by then Packers Executive Vice President/General Manager Ron Wolf in 1999 to be a college scout for Green Bay. After serving as an area scout for many years, Highsmith was promoted to his current spot in 2012. Working closely with Thompson has given Highsmith a perfect position to prepare for running a franchise.
Sources say that Highsmith has a tremendous work ethic from his time as a player, professional boxer and area scout. Given his background, he works very well with NFL players and is able to identify with them. With his personal and organizational leadership skills, he can get a franchise working in one direction from the front office into the locker room. That is a huge necessity for the Dolphins franchise that has lacked structure and leadership. Everything he does at Green Bay is about winning as an organization, and sources believe he will build that kind of atmosphere for any team that hires him as their general manager.
Last offseason, the Redskins tried to hire Highsmith away, but they were blocked from doing so by Thompson. Highsmith is expected to be a candidate for other general manager openings, so if the Dolphins want to land Highsmith, they should move quickly to steal a top executive from one of the most successful franchises in the league. Bringing Highsmith back home to Miami would be the first step to resurrecting the once-proud franchise.