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5 Most Disappointing Miami Dolphins of 2018

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a year littered with disappointment, it was hard to pick 5 players that outweighed the others.

On one hand, we didn’t have to bribe a quarterback out of retirement, Miami’s bye week occurred right on time, and no one was (caught) snorting cocaine at the office.

By most accounts, 2018 was actually an improvement over its predecessor. But that improvement doesn’t mean we weren’t disappointed with the outcome.

Our savior, Ryan Tannehill, was finally back after being resurrected for a 7th NFL season. Our mad scientist, Adam Gase, finally recruited the army of minions he always wanted; building “his” culture.

And then Miami finished 7-9; right back into the same familiar territory any Dolphins fan under 30-years old is used to.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, we can focus that energy on a handful of players who decided to stand up above the rest and become our 5 most disappointing players of 2018:

5) Charles Harris

Based on his 2017 performance and his 2018 salary, Charles Harris performed as expected. But that’s the problem, he was simply “Just A Guy”.

Former 1st-round picks don’t always pan out, but the hope is that they develop into cheap roster space that can supplement the more-expensive veterans on the roster.

Miami already had a dud of a 1st-round pick in DeVante Parker, so they really couldn’t afford another one in Harris. Though ultimately, it’s what they deserve.

Similar to DeVante Parker (and Mike Gesicki, as well as others), the Dolphins believed they could take a “talented” athlete and turn them into a football player. They were wrong in the past, and they are wrong once again. The last time the Dolphins went against that train of thought, and drafted a football player while ignoring the person’s (possibly lackluster) physical attributes, they drafted Jarvis Landry.

It’s possible Harris still evolves and develops, especially with a new coaching staff. But with a new defensive scheme expected to be implemented, Harris is an odd-man out. His ability to diagnose the run and set the edge is poor, he isn’t reliable in coverage, and his pass-rushing ability isn’t great either, which means he’ll be unable to survive in a 3-4 defensive front as an outside linebacker. And in this scheme, he’s too skinny to play with his hand in the dirt.

You have a better likelihood of William Hayes returning and being more productive than Charles Harris.

Like a bunch of other players on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see if the team tries to get something in return for the underwhelming defensive end. Though I’m hesitant to think that the team will desperately trade their under-performing talent, as Chris Grier was behind the selections of Harris, Parker and Gesicki; selling these players for pennies on the dollar is admitting a defeat that Grier might not be able to afford to admit.

Although it’s easy to play this game in retrospect, Miami drafting Harris at 22 cost them players like Evan Engram (drafted one spot after Harris, at 23), Jabrill Peppers (25), Takkarist McKinley (26), Tre’Davious White (27), David Njoku (29), T.J. Watt (30) and Ryan Ramczyk (32). Or in other words, everyone drafted after Harris in the 1st-round was a better option other than Reuben Foster. Even Taco Charlton has been more-productive than Harris, and at least he comes with a name we could meme.

4) Mike Gesicki

Saying the Miami Dolphins drafted the worst tight end in the 2018 NFL draft is actually not that much of an exaggeration. The only tight ends that performed less than Gesicki were either injured before their careers could get started, or they were lower-round draft picks. 1st-round pick Hayden Hurst did have less receptions and less yards than Gesicki, but he also participated in 4 less games than the former Penn State tight end.

Combined with the lackluster performance of our other rookie tight end, Durham Smythe, it’s clear this team is working without any production from a quarterback’s friendliest receiver.

While Smythe’s production can be excused because of his blocking ability, there is nothing we can excuse with Gesicki.

Another example of a superior athlete that has no business being on the football field, Gesicki was drafted to be the redzone threat the Dolphins have been missing since Charles Clay.

Instead, his biggest threat came when the defender had no idea what Gesicki was doing…only to find out he was tripping on air and falling before he could break his route. Sometimes he didn’t even break his block before falling to the ground.

If you enjoyed teasing Brian Hartline for all of the shoestring tackles he endured, you’d get a real kick out of Gesicki’s phantom falls.

Also, this never happened:

3) DeVante Parker

You would think DeVante Parker’s inclusion on this list would have more to do with the culmination of his NFL career rather than the 2018 season alone; but even by Parker’s standards this was a poor year.

Regardless of the statistic, Parker had the worst year of his career:

  • Receptions: 24 (next lowest: 26, Year: 2015)
  • Targets: 47 (50, 2015)
  • Yards: 309 (494, 2015)
  • Yards per Reception: 12.9 (11.8, 2017)
  • Touchdowns: 1 (1, 2017)

This also coincides with Parker’s least-taxing season on his body, as he had his lowest snap count of his 4-year career.

  • 2018: 411
  • 2017: 675
  • 2016: 735
  • 2015: 468

Of course injuries play a part in this, but it’s not like the injuries are anything new for Parker. Over his career, Parker has been active for 55 (out of a possible 65) games (84.62%), but his status has been suspect in most of those games. What’s more eye-opening is the fact that Parker has started just 31 games out of a possible 65 in his career (47.69%). For a former 1st-round pick, that’s undesirable.

Offering the 5th-year extension to a constantly-injured and eternally-inconsistent player was evidence enough that the Miami Dolphins still believed Parker could eventually shine as the beacon of hope we originally (and continued to) believe he could be. Instead, there’s a good chance Parker is on another roster in 2019.

2) Robert Quinn

Mike Tannenbaum couldn’t stay away from shiny objects. Ndamukong Suh was exhibit A, and Robert Quinn is the latest attraction.

A former 2x Pro Bowler and First-team All-Pro over half a decade ago, the thought of obtaining someone who has a history of multiple-sack seasons in their early-20s was too much for Tannenbaum to pass up on.

Sold as a player the Dolphins could fix because the Los Angeles Rams were playing Quinn out of position and the Rams have no clue what they’re doing, Quinn was brought on to cover up the other mistake Tannenbaum made by drafting Charles Harris in the 1st-round of the 2017 draft.

After toying with Ndamukong Suh, overpaying Andre Branch, continuously paying Cameron Wake and obtaining Robert Quinn, we finally figured we had it all together.

Nope.

Quinn had a decent second-half of the year, but it wasn’t enough to mask the disappointment we felt the first 10 weeks of the season.

As the most expensive player on the team (cap hit wise), Quinn was expected to change the course of games – simultaneously forcing the opposing quarterback off his rhythm AND making life easier on the secondary – and instead, he finished with 6.5 sacks, 38 total tackles and only 9 tackles for a loss. He did hit the quarterback 15 times, but he also started 16 games for the Dolphins, so that average is still underwhelming. (For reference, Wake hit the QB 17 times in 14 starts – and that was a “down” year for him).

Rebuilding in 2019 may be the blessing the Miami Dolphins need in order to purge themselves of these shiny objects they believe they can “turn around”. They do a good job of obtaining guys who may bounce back (Branch, T.J. McDonald, Kiko Alonso), but they do a terrible job paying them.

Just to solidify how poor the team handled Robert Quinn, I give you an excerpt from an article by Jason Lieser back in June of 2018. It’s a tad long, but it encompasses this team’s inability pretty well:

“…When the Rams offered [Quinn] for the mere price of a fourth-round pick. Miami defensive coordinator Matt Burke thought Adam Gase must have been messing with him.

“Yes, I’m good,” Burke replied. “Absolutely, 100 percent. I’m on board.”

Still, Gase insisted they do their due diligence anyway, so Burke went to freshly hired defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and told him they needed to watch Quinn’s film from last season to make sure there weren’t any red flags. It’d have to be a quick review because Mike Tannenbaum, Gase and Chris Grier didn’t want this opportunity to get away from them.”

On the opposite end, the Rams were celebrating as they relieved themselves of Quinn’s huge cap hit, allowing them to spend more-freely on the rest of their roster. This allowed them acquire the likes of Aquib Talib, Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh. I don’t think I even need to ask which scenario you’d rather have.

Honorable Mentions

Below are some additional players that disappointed us this season…just not enough to revel in the pantheon of under-performers:

Stephone Anthony – Is it really his fault he was a 1st-round bust for another team and our team stupidly paid a 5th-round pick to relieve them of their problem?

Andre Branch – Even though we knew he would be bad, he was atrocious. He actually disappointed our already nonexistent expectations.

Isaac Asiata – Asiata hasn’t contributed in the past and he continued his lack of contributions in 2018.

Jesse Davis – Davis played all 920 offensive snaps for the Dolphins this season, but he was expected to evolve; instead, he regressed somewhat mightily. His reliability saves him from being on this list.

Ted Larsen – He filled in and contributed 751 snaps at left guard, so it’s hard to fault him for his reliability. He was also reliably bad, so I guess we can’t fault him for being consistent, either. Larsen is also one of the main reasons why we beat the New England Patriots last season, so he gets a pass from the bottom-5.

Jordan Phillips – Phillips wasn’t on the roster long enough to completely disappoint us,  but his entire career has easily been a disappointment. So, like Andre Branch, his 2018 production isn’t a surprise, it’s just continuously disappointing. This is one draft bust we won’t forget, but we certainly won’t miss.

1) Ryan Tannehill

Come on, did you really expect it to be anyone else?

After starting 3-0 and being well on his way to purging any thought that he wasn’t a franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill shed his ironman status and missed time for his third-straight season.

Finishing the season at 5-6 as a starting quarterback, the future for Ryan Tannehill in Miami is about as bleak as the Dolphins projected record in 2019.

Statistically speaking, Tannehill didn’t have a “poor” season. Over the course of his 6 years as a starter, Tannehill’s stats were about as good as they have been:

  • Completion %: 3rd (best in his career – out of 6 seasons)
  • TD %: 1st
  • Yards per Attempt: tied-2nd
  • Yards per Reception: 4th
  • QB Rating: 3rd
  • Game Winning Drives: tied-1st

This probably explains why we should have discovered this problem earlier. 2018 was right on par with the rest of his Dolphins career. Problem is, it featured no evolution. No quarterback whisperer seducing him in his ear. No reason to believe that 2019 will be any better than 2018 (or 2017 or 2016 or any other year this century).

Between injuries, inconsistent quarterback play, inconsistent offensive line play, and an offensive gameplan that was predictably stale, our judgement is still clouded on the 7-year quarterback. We’re done with Tannehill because we don’t want to go through another year of uncertainty, not necessarily because he’s a poor choice.

We watch him do this:

And then we watch him do this:

Teammates simultaneously praise him and bash him as both a leader and a player. If the Miami Dolphins can’t mold Ryan Tannehill into a consistent franchise quarterback, it might be time to give someone else a try. Because all he’s going to do next year is continue to disappoint us.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa has IT.

Brian Flores is THE guy.

And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.

After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?

Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?

Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?

Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?

Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.

Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for

Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.

That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.

But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.

When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).

Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.

If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.

Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback

After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.

He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.

Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.

I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.

Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)

But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:

With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.

Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating

Just please celebrate responsibly.

One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.

Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.

Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.

If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.

Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story

Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).

The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.

A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.

The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way

Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).

Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.

We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off

Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.

Jason Sanders is a stud

Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).

The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.

Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.

The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah

I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.

Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.

Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.

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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a team sport.

Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.

Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.

Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.

38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.

A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.

We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.

And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.

Image Credit: South Florida Sun Sentinel

As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.

Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.

That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.

The Purgatory We Built

No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.

Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.

It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.

After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.

Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.

It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.

I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.

A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.

To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).

With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.

Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.

The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.

Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.

Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:

  • Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
  • (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)

Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.

There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.

Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.

Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.

Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.

The Future We Created

But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.

The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?

This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.

With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.

After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.

If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?

Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.

So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?

If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.

Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.

And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.

The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:

Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.

The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:

  • Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
  • Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
  • Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).

Full trade:

Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)

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Miami Dolphins

There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?

After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.

Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.

We’ve Heard This Before

Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.

After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.

That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.

Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.

From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.

Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.

Great person, but terrible with people.

Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.

Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.

After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.

Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.

So Why is This Different?

This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.

Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.

Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.

Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.

Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.

Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.

Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.

With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.

With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.

This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.

Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.

Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.

But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.

Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?

Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.

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