Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores Doesn’t Care About Your Quarterback Opinion

Chris Kowalewski

Published

on

For this year, or next – Brian Flores doesn’t care what your thoughts are about the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback. 

He doesn’t care about mine either. 

And right now, he doesn’t give much thought about Chris Grier’s or Stephen Ross’ views.

His attention stays on detailed preparation for the next game and his decision regarding the starting quarterback is based on what he thinks is best for the team right now.

Football isn’t just a game to Flores, it represents his life’s work thus far. His rise to prominence is the result of his own ethics, perseverance and determination which has enabled him to seize an opportunity only a relative few can ever hope to touch.

His focus as Head Coach, stays locked on the entire roster of players in the team facility – not just the quarterback – and how he can make them better to achieve their own success.

For fans and media alike, the quarterback will remain the most-discussed position on the roster, through every win and every loss, until the ‘saviour’ arrives.

That very mindset, firmly entrenched in Miami as a result of decades of fluctuating mediocrity has matured into a echoing barrage of opinions as to what the Dolphins need to do to solve the quarterback puzzle.

Owner Stephen Ross and GM Chris Grier were in attendance at Saturday’s LSU/Alabama game, to witness first-hand a showdown of star college quarterbacks, including Tua Tagovailoa. You can therefore safely bet that they know that the position shouldn’t be ignored as the team continues it’s hefty rebuild.

Since the Dolphins began their offloading of talent in exchange for draft picks, the notion of tanking for the Hawaiian-born passer spread like wildfire. Ross’ public commitment to a fresh approach to team-building, together with an enticing crop of 2020 rookie passers, has divided opinions on the concept of ‘winning’, littering the media landscape with headlines and accusations that the Dolphins are actively doing (losing) all they can to land the top pick in the 2020 draft.

Let’s rewind the clock about 8 weeks.

The Dolphins had opened their season with a 59-10 loss to the Ravens, followed by a 43-0 beatdown by the Patriots.

The Dolphins were being lambasted nationally and internationally by many media outlets looking for an attention grab.

Former NFL CB, Dominique Foxworth called his perception of the Dolphins’ approach “unethical” and “morally reprehensible”.

Rich Eisen proliferated on his own radio show back in September that he categorically knew the Dolphins were tanking in 2019, but doubted their ability to establish the basis for future success.

According to Eisen, the Dolphins had outright “given up” when the season was merely 2 weeks old. “You’ve got a Dolphins team which is flat-out trying to tank. They have coveted Tua since he [beat Georgia] coming off the bench… Speak to anybody in this business, Tua had the Dolphins at ‘hello’. I heard at the draft in Dallas two years ago that the Dolphins coveted Tua.”

Radio broadcaster, Dan Patrick stated “If I’m Tua, I’m telling them to tank for somebody else, don’t tank for me… Why would you want to go to Miami? If I’m a Miami fan, I don’t show up. I might show up to see the Patriots, to tell my grandkids ‘Hey, I got to see Tom Brady’ but I would take the year off if I’m a Dolphins fan.”

Considering the Dolphins had been a team balanced on the brink of playoff irrelevance for almost 2 decades, there began a raucous outpouring of opinions as to what the Dolphins are doing – or should be doing – at quarterback.

For the moment, one man’s opinion counts the most. 

You could tell from the start that the idea of tanking really got under Flores’ skin.

This game means a lot to me. I wouldn’t disrespect the game with that” he stated when the notion of tanking was brought to him during a media appearance. He hated the idea.

The first-year Head Coach closed off his ears to the attention-grabbing cries of the media and set out on his job, to coach a roster filled with ‘street-level’ talent to develop and play to the best of their ability. 

Fast forward to Week 10 and the Dolphins have continued on an upward trajectory of improvement on a weekly basis, coming fresh off their second consecutive victory this Sunday.

The talk of the Dolphins ‘tanking’ has been silenced. The media outlets dig for other story threads now that the season is in full swing.

It might not show up in the overall record, but that alone is another victory for Brian Flores. He has impressively managed to pull a team together, under circumstances which could easily derail any franchise, and is being rightly heralded for his strong demonstration of leadership and coaching.

Against heavy odds, he has shown that he’s not one to be swayed by the pressures and deafening complaints of the online keyboard warriors and radio rebels. He won’t allow that noise to infiltrate his locker room.

He’s not going to be pushed on who he starts at quarterback for the rest of the 2019 season, either. Despite the fact that the Dolphins gave up a second round draft pick to acquire Josh Rosen, Flores will not succumb to any pressure to play him. Loud opinions still bounce around that the Dolphins should be seeing what they have in Josh Rosen and that he should be played and developed over a journeyman veteran.

But the potential development of Rosen does not override the importance of the development of the team and Flores knows that Ryan Fitzpatrick gives them the best chance to win now.

It’s therefore unlikely that he’s going to allow himself to be distracted by your thoughts, my thoughts, on the prospect of any fresh-faced college quarterback, including ones who haven’t even declared eligible for the 2020 draft. 

As fans, we’ll inevitably debate deep into the coming months as to whether the Dolphins can still realistically acquire one of the draft’s expected top quarterbacks in Tua Tagovailoa or even Joe Burrow or whether they now have to set their sights elsewhere.

On Monday, Brian Flores met with the media and was asked whether he ever thinks about the chance he has to land a franchise quarterback in the 2020 draft, whether he ever discusses it with Chris Grier or considers it alone in moments of quiet reflection.

No, it’s not something I really think about. I think about this team, what my message is to the team in the morning, what my message is going to be at 4 o’clock when we intro Buffalo. Then I’m going to get started on Buffalo. So maybe there is not enough time to get into all of that. My job is to get this team in the best position to try to go out there and be productive and try to win football games. I think every head coach, every general manager. every organisation is thinking about things long-term as well as short-term. We are no different but, right now my goal is to get each one of those guys in the locker room to be as good as they can be. That’s the goal for me and our coaching staff.” 

As to whether the Dolphins now have a ‘winning culture’ Flores noted “I think these guys are really working hard, that they’re preparing the right way. The process is what we talk about on a weekly basis. I think they try to stick to that process and now they see the fruits of their labour. Culture is something you build over time. It’s early, but I want to continue to be consistent in the things we’ve been doing… I do think that we are moving in the right direction – there is a trust and belief in the process… The culture piece is about the relationships that are built within the locker room and on the practice field. I think we’re building towards that.”

Asked whether he felt that the team could get on a roll late in the season, Flores said “I hope so. But that’s going to take a lot of work – things don’t just happen in this league… anyone who thinks that is out of their mind quite honestly.”

So whilst Flores may admit that he’s currently too busy to consider the opinions of others about the team’s future quarterback position, he knows and remains true to his role in coaching the team. It’s something which he has impressively demonstrated over the past several weeks with the “reprehensible’”and “unethical” Dolphins continuing to steadily improve with a rag-tag roster of players, led by a stop-gap solution in Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

He was asked about Josh Rosen’s role, and whether there was any thought as to a duty to develop him in place of starting the veteran. Flores knows that Ryan Fitzpatrick gives the team the best chance to succeed, the best chance to build culture and the best chance to develop the young players who are hungry for their own NFL opportunity. 

[Ryan’s] going to be the quarterback moving forward. I’ve said that before… Things [can] change in this league, but I see him as the quarterback for the for seeable future. He’s done a really good job and the guys feel his energy. He’s been able to move the football and he’s made some really tough plays for us – scrambling, getting out of the pocket, making throws, tucking it and taking into the enzone. He’s been productive and he’ll be in there.

It’s safe to say that the idea of ‘tanking’ is just not in Brian Flores’ playbook. The strong likelihood is that it’s not even suggested by ownership or the front office.

The truth is, Stephen Ross wants to see Flores succeed. Why wouldn’t he? 

Ross is a man of loyalty, sometimes loyal to a fault, who has previously stuck for too long by the side of former coaches. But Flores is the first to be hand-picked for a clean start, chosen to establish strong foundations for the long-term future. 

Ross presented the game ball to Flores after the team’s first win of the season and he pumped his fist as the Dolphins toppled the Colts on the road a week later, happy in the knowledge that his chosen Head Coach is already showing signs of success with a roster which is widely considered ripe for improvement.

It’s an approach far removed from previous days of filling the roster with overpriced Free Agents, and one which Ross promised us would be different. Whether it leads to different results has yet to be decided, but the early return looks to bring many reasons for hope.

Getting the right Head Coach is arguably more important than the quarterback. Many will credit Bill Belichick for the the level of success which has been enjoyed in New England – whether legally or otherwise.

So we can shout as much as we like about the Dolphins’ approach to winning in 2019. Whether we’re crossing our fingers for losses to propel the team back up the draft board, or want to see the Dolphins win out the rest of the season, Brian Flores isn’t listening.

Coach Flores is beginning to show that he can get the most out a bunch of players who some even reported would be ‘dangerous’ to put on the field. If that is case, the endless debate as to how Miami should approach the quarterback spot for this year (and exactly who is should be) might not be the most pressing issue when it comes to future success. 

The Dolphins might have already found their most important piece.

Physically located across the pond, but mentally always in Miami. A qualified lawyer, NFL sponge, aspiring writer and self-proclaimed IKEA furniture construction expert, he’s looking ahead to a brighter future for the Dolphins after decades of wading in the depths of mediocrity. Always on the search for any excuse to talk all-things Dolphins.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

Published

on

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)

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

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

Jason Hrina

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

LATEST

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending