Owner of the Palace of Wisdom
Honestly, and this isn't making excuses, but since his injury caused him to miss all of OTAs and then he missed a couple weeks of training camp, I treated last year as a redshirt year for Dion Jordan. He needed to add weight and get stronger anyway, so him missing as much time as he did was an issue.
With Ireland and Philbin the question becomes how much did they actually disagree on. We've heard all the stories about them not getting along especially as the season got tougher, but how much did they disagree during the draft? There's a rumor how Philbin wanted Lavonte David but Ireland felt he was too small. Is that true?
I think the issue with Sparano has coach under Ireland/Parcells is that Tony didn't really do much scouting on his own.
And as I've said a million times, the best teams have a GM and coach that will work together with scouts and assistant coaches to find players that best fit their scheme. GMs should not force a player on a coach. You also need scouts that are willing to speak up and do a little extra work after the "elite" talent of the draft. I remember a story from when Matt Millen was GM of Detroit and they had a 2nd round pick and didn't know who to draft as their board was pretty much empty. Somebody mentioned Brian Calhoun (RB from Wisconsin) so they just took him because they knew the name.
Now I do think Ireland had some talent as the draft went on. Whether or not you consider them superstars or not but getting production from Nolan Carroll, Brian Hartline, Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Charles Clay, and Jimmy Wilson is a good skill to have. But Ireland for whatever reason just did not do well in the early rounds. Some I think was aged thinking (see reasonings for drafting Patrick Turner, and John Jerry) some was overthinking (Pat White), and some was projecting a skill set and for whatever reason it didn't translate (Clyde Gates, AJ Edds, Shawn Murphy)
Now is Hickey an improvement? Who knows. I think his willingness to work hand in hand with Philbin is a step in the right direction for the draft. BUT that doesn't mean he'll do a good job. He just can't be as stubborn about fixing his mistakes as Ireland was.