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Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores is Sabotaging His Career

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: USA Today

Brian Flores is sabotaging his career, and do you think he even cares?

Every win puts the Miami Dolphins further and further from that #1 draft pick…that #1 quarterback who is supposed to ensure the future success of this franchise.

Their path to prominence was just a few short months away. Simply lie down and let the rest of the league walk all over you. Heck, you can be as terrible as you want to be at your job, and you’ll still have the security to return next year. What an easy thing for Flores and company to do.

Except, he hasn’t done that one bit.

Chris Grier‘s plan all along was to starve the team of talent so it became nearly impossible for them to win, regardless of how hard they tried.

It was a plan that Grier and Flores crafted together, presented to Stephen Ross and set out to orchestrate in unison with his blessing.

And Flores is voluntarily sabotaging it all.

What do a few measly wins in November mean when your franchise is perpetually staring at 9-7 due to a second-rate quarterback?

At the moment, the Dolphins have the #4 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. That means, theoretically, Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow are both out of your grasp. Unless you can convince the Washington Redskins to accept a king’s ransom in exchange for the #2 overall pick – which I wouldn’t expect them to do – it looks like you’re settling for the bronze medal.

Which means you’re risking your future on an inconsistent Jake Fromm, or an unpolished Justin Herbert.

Think this is a maneuver a man hellbent on securing the easiest path to future success would make? I think you all know the answer to that rhetorical question.

Wins Won’t Be Gifted, They’ll Be Earned

If there’s one thing we’ve come to learn from Brian Flores, it’s that he doesn’t settle for the easier option.

It was only a month ago that national pundits everywhere were genuinely imploring Roger Goodell to investigate the Dolphins’ method for tanking.

The Dolphins validated the embarrassing narrative (that started when the team traded away Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills) when they were dominated by the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys to open up the season.

At a glance, it’s easy to discount what Brian Flores was building. Miami had yet to score a single point in the second half of a game, players like Jakeem Grant and Charles Harris were regressing, and Minkah Fitzpatrick was on the verge of demanding a trade that would turn him into a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan favorite.

It appeared like no one respected the rookie head coach. Fans started to proclaim that he wasn’t the right leader for this team, even though we all knew what 2019 was about from the start.

We were under the impression that the locker room was crumbling, that camaraderie didn’t exist, and that Flores was simply here to keep the seat warm for the next head coach.

But, against our behest, Flores reminded us weekly that this team had a lot of fight in them and that they were yearning for a victory. None of them were laying down and adopting the “tanking” narrative.

We scoffed, but in reality, we were just afraid of what this meant for the future of this franchise.

Though these two meaningless victories won’t mean much years from now, it shows us the kind of team we should come to expect with Brian Flores leading the Miami Dolphins.

Making Wine Out of Water

The narrative around Miami is that the Dolphins watch talent walk out the door and perform well for other teams.

For all the blame we place on Grier for mis-scouting these players, there seem to be enough of them.

Which means there’s really only one conclusion we can deduce from all of this: the problem isn’t the players, but the coaches who are supposed to put them in the best position to perform each week.

Including those currently on Injured Reserve, the Dolphins returned just 21 players from their 2018 team (if you include players like Nick O’Leary, Kenyan Drake and Minkah Fitzpatrick, you can bump it up to 24).

With an entirely new coaching staff and a roster of players that, for the most part, hadn’t played with each other before, there were going to be a few hiccups.

Communication issues were present, players weren’t lined up in the right spots, and, let’s be honest, the coaching staff wasn’t entirely sure where to slot their players.

Raekwon McMillan was underutilized, Eric Rowe was still covering the boundary, and their (mis)handling of Minkah Fitzpatrick cost them the most-promising defensive player on the their roster.

Fans openly wondered why Mike Gesicki was still running routes, why Jomal Wiltz was still a starter, why Nik Needham had a spot on the roster, and why Evan Boehm was playing ahead of Chris Reed.

But Flores knew that his team was facing some of the most-adverse conditions any team in recent memory was up against. The Dolphins had:

  • 2 Pro Bowlers on their entire roster (Reshad Jones and Xavien Howard).
  • Less than half their roster featured players that had accumulated more than 2 full seasons in the NFL.
    • And of the players that had more than 2 full years of experience, we’re talking about guys like Matt Haack, Ken Crawley, Deon Lacey, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Clive Walford and Walt Aikens. Not necessarily the cream of the crop.
  • 2 of their 1st-round picks since 2010 still on the roster (DeVante Parker and Charles Harris).

In short, the Dolphins talent was barren. And yet here we are, staring two wins in the face – with a 3rd victory falling through Kenyan Drake’s grasp at the 2-yard line.

It’s not a record that earns you an easy ticket to the playoffs for the foreseeable future (thanks to the college prospect you were able to pluck at will). Instead, it’s a record that will mock Dolphins fans for years as they watch this year’s top two quarterback prospects perform outside of Miami.

Think Brian Flores cares? Not one bit. Why? Because he’s going to coach whoever his quarterback is into a winner.

A Real Coach Coaches

It seems we were the only ones befuddled by Flores’ coaching potential.

After a rocky start to the year – where Miami faced 3 of the top 6 scoring offenses in the NFL – the team started to settle down.

Jomal Wiltz went from being burned on basic running plays to providing tight coverage on a consistent basis.

Nik Needham went from being one of the fan’s scapegoats to earning a spot on this roster in 2020.

Mike Gesicki went from being cut to becoming a legitimate seam threat in this league.

Eric Rowe went from a forgettable boundary cornerback to a potential solution for opposing tightends (after all these years).

Vince Biegel is what Kiko Alonso should have been when we traded for him years ago.

Preston Williams is what DeVante Parker should have been when we drafted him in the 1st-round.

DeVante Parker is even looking like the DeVante Parker we expected to receive 4 seasons ago.

Christian Wilkins is providing instant production, and will be a starter beside Davon Godchaux (hopefully) for the next 5 years.

Exactly how many players on this roster have gotten worse from 2018 to now?

If there’s pessimism surrounding the Dolphins’ quarterback situation of the future, there should be plenty of optimism surrounding Miami’s player development going forward.

This is a team that wants to play hard for their head coach. Just look at all the problems the 2-7 New York Jets are having.

Le’Veon Bell is saying all the right things, but he’s unhappy there. Jamal Adams is one of the best young safeties in the league, and he’s constantly in a verbal brawl with the team’s general manager and head coach. Neither of these are even their biggest problem, as Kelechi Osemele is currently filing a grievance against the team for neglecting his injury.

That’s the look of a team that doesn’t have each other’s back. That’s a lost locker room.

The Miami Dolphins tell a completely different story. This is a team that wants to play hard for their head coach.

No one condones Bobby McCain (allegedly) spitting at a Buffalo Bills’ fan when he mocked the Dolphins’ roster, but you may subconsciously be glad he has that fire inside of him. He took that personally.

The best young safety in the league may have forced his way off your team, but there isn’t a single unhappy player on this roster right now. No one is butting heads with the front office or head coach. In fact, the Dolphins paid Kendrick Norton’s contract in full when he lost his arm during the offseason – forgoing any chance of living his dream as an NFL star.

This is a staff (and ownership group) that cares. They treat their players like genuine human beings. They’re honest with their intentions and upfront with the amount of work they’ll have to put in if they want to play for the Miami Dolphins.

Brian Flores isn’t just bringing grit to a franchise that hasn’t had a spark since Tony Sparano took over, he’s bringing respect and honor as well.

Want to know if Brian Flores has the attention of his players? Check this interesting stat out:

  • The Miami Dolphins were the least-penalized team in the NFL heading into their Week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. On the contrary, the Jets were the 30th-most penalized team heading into Week 10.

That says a lot about a team trying to learn an entirely new system (with all new vocabulary) while attempting to develop chemistry with players they’ve never played beside. One depicts a team that has bought in to what their coach is selling, another shows you how undisciplined they really are.

Maybe Minkah Fitzpatrick couldn’t handle the dedication Flores demanded? Maybe Vincent Taylor wasn’t willing to put in the time and felt his natural ability would be enough?

After back-to-back wins, it’s easy to dispel the notion that the coaches were at fault, but after what we’ve seen the past two weeks, it’s hard not to notice the growth and evolution happening before us.

Now, our emotions are torn.

The fan inside of us yearns for this team to win, but logic favors a defeated season. It’s a conundrum none of us have an answer for, because none of us know what the right answer is for another few years.

While we try and siphon our feelings, we can uniformally agree that the overall future of the Miami Dolphins is bright.

Which really means we have to pray that Jordan Love declares for the upcoming draft, just in case Flores decides to sabotage a few more games this season.

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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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Michael Wise

    November 11, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Maybe if the media would think of something other than the dolphins tanking they might be able to figure out what the plan is. I’m sure that the dolphins have dozens of plans that they could follow. Here is one that I believe they are following. When the new begins in March of 2020 and free the agency window opens I believe that the dolphins will go after T. Bridgewater a free agent with New Orleans. He and Drew Brees are free agents in 2020. Brees will be signed before Bridgewater and I’m not certain he will sign another cheap contract. He wants to be a starter but I am sure that there will be other teams in the mix also. Last year when he said no to Miami and signed with the Saints he was having second thoughts before he actually signed. Anyway there may be another second level QB signed so they can tutor him and of course they will have Rosen and Fitz. That gives Miami an opportunity to draft for other needs and possibly trade back for additional picks for 2020 and 2021. Just one option of many that the dolphins have. So why don’t you start thinking a little before you write an article and use your imagination some. The tanking articles are really getting old especially when it is apparent the dolphins aren’t tanking and aren’t concerned with where they fall in the draft.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:53 am

      Michael, respectfully, I think you missed my overall point in this article. Your last sentence (starting with “when it is apparent”) is where I’m at.

  2. Avatar

    Ian

    November 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Jordan love? Hell no! Jalen Hurts maybe but not Jordan love.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:51 am

      I think Miami has to take a flyer on a college prospect given the depth of this QB class, but if they don’t land one of those top 2 guys I think they spend on a veteran and wait for 2021. Your question then becomes, can Grier and Flores afford to wait.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:55 am

      Part of me feels like Tua is the only true QB in this class because he’s the only other QB prospect that doesn’t start with a J

  3. Avatar

    Rich McQuillen

    November 11, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    “That says a lot about a team trying to learn an entirely new system (with all new vocabulary) ”
    — My memory is that Adam Gase uses the Patriots offense (same vocabulary)(Erhardt-Perkins). So on the offensive side there is no new new system, no new vocabulary.

    On the defensive side, however, it is an entirely new system, with all new vocabulary.

    https://www.si.com/nfl/dolphins/gm-report/tutorial-on-chad-o-shea-s-new-dolphins-offensive-scheme-IzW7LY_3_EijeHpyc8HJiw/
    “the E&P leans on the run more than the league average. Adam Gase, a proponent of the scheme, brought this identity to Miami”

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:50 am

      Running a similar offense like that certainly helps, well pointed-out Rich. I would have to think the “codewords”, lingo and other attributes vary as New England would simply be able to understand Miami’s play call every time, but the similarity in offense does help. My only concern with that is: most of these players are new to this offense. The only starters you’re carrying over from 2018 are DeVante Parker, Daniel Kilgore, Jesse Davis, Kalen Ballage(?) and Mike Gesicki.

  4. Avatar

    John Edwards

    November 11, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    I agree with everything in this piece, especially that last part about if we miss out on the top picks drafting Jacob Eason.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:54 am

      How are you ranking the J’s: Eason, Love, Hurts?

  5. Avatar

    Ben

    November 11, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    This is a BS article. You don’t tank, you play with what you have and do the best you can, Always. Period. Otherwise, what example does it set? You will find players throughout the draft, or even undrafted, that many doubted. Tom Brady was 6th round right? F all that talk about tanking. Now yeah they traded a lot of people to build assets to get the type of players they want in the building. I’m down for that. He is still winning with what he has, the players are giving it their best, that’s what you want in your team. 0-16, 9-7, undefeated, I dont care as long as they are doing the best they can.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:44 am

      Ben, I agree that a coach (and his players) will always try and perform as best they can. This article talks about how Flores believes he can coach up a winner and how he isn’t settling for the top QB prospect.

  6. Avatar

    Black

    November 11, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Its articles like this that have us in the situation we are in today. Why the dolphins failed to make you their general manager.I think you have proven a point. You think the only how this coach can be successful is to get one of these two quarterbacks. I don’t think so. Let the coach do what he should do, coach the team. If you say they give him a team that was not suppose to win and he can coach these guys to now have two wins.What you think he will do with better players.
    This coach has a plan. We are looking at player we want them to draw, but do you think they have other plans? Do you think they are looking at a QB from another school? We are the ones who try to get every QB we see throw a ball in college. Sucess don’t necessarily comes from number one picks. Let’s wait and see what the plan is. Stop destroying the man coaching career before it start. Be positive for once. We have the right coach.

    • Avatar

      Gregandrea

      November 12, 2019 at 2:31 am

      We finally have a well coached team, those are all pro players, not the best but they are well coached now.if they didn’t learn how to win this year, it does not matter who they draft. This reminds me of the shula years with bill arnsparger as defensive coordinator. Well done flores

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:42 am

      Black, this article does praise Brian Flores.

  7. Avatar

    donv

    November 11, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I think you guys that replied missed the point,the first half of the piece was tongue in cheek…read the entire article! Jason does tend to write negative articles but this wasn’t. I hope he continues to be positive in the future and take the high road.

    Too much time in the twitter cesspool creates that negative thinking. It’s like the old sports talk radio callers over on twitter, the extreme haters are 90% of the posters, not worth the time IMO.If you hang out in the worst part of town your attitude will reflect that.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:57 am

      Years of being a fan have dragged me down that pessimistic road more than I’d like, but have to say that things are looking pretty positive right now. Appreciate it, donv.

  8. Avatar

    Papapickett

    November 12, 2019 at 6:53 am

    All we had to do was lose this year and turn the double corner blitzs loose next year. Now weve gone from tanking to just bad. There will be no reward for this.

  9. Avatar

    Pete Harrell

    November 12, 2019 at 8:42 am

    As I started reading this article I’m thinking man, this guy is bashing Flores but soon came to realize he is not bashing but pointing out how the players are being developed into a winning scheme by a HC with a winning attitude. Great article! As I said in an earlier post, One man does not a team make. Go Dolphins!! I am a stupid redneck @$$hole, lol, USA USA

  10. Avatar

    M. Beyant

    November 12, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    This article is so far out there anyone falling for this click bait. All he did was take your fears of your favorite football team and put it in a story not even thinking about what NFL teams ahead of the Dolphins that will actually need a QB come draft day. Definitely not the Jets or the Redskins, only the Bengals. So how are the Dolphins going to miss on their QB choice. This article made me SMH

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      November 13, 2019 at 5:40 am

      You’re assuming the Redskins & their new coaching staff don’t bring in one of these college prospects to be their franchise quarterback. Dwayne Haskins may be the guy, but he doesn’t look anything like that right now. This is also assuming the Redskins trade with Miami and not another team of their choice. The Dolphins certainly have an abundant amount of draft picks to play with, which obviously helps, but these past two wins void any kind of assumptions we can make about them getting their prospect-of-choice.

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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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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts

Chris Kowalewski

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As the doors of the Dolphins’ training facility open to the newly signed rookie class, they close for another former Miami-hopeful after an active weekend of roster moves.

The Miami Dolphins have today waived TE Michael Roberts.

Roberts began his NFL career in 2017 out of Toledo as a 4th round pick of the Detroit Lions, possessing ideal measurements (6’5”, 265lb) for a playmaking TE.

A shoulder injury in December 2018 cut short Roberts’ time in Detroit and he was waived by the Lions following a failed physical as part of an attempted trade with the New England Patriots and subsequently waived quickly again after being picked up by the Green Bay Packers.

Roberts underwent reconstruction of the injured left shoulder in August 2019, having struggled both physically and mentally as his career path veered away from his dreams. Signed by the Dolphins in February 2020, it was hoped that Roberts could revive his NFL career in Miami’s TE room, competing with Durham Smythe for the TE2 spot behind Mike Gesicki.

At only 26 years old, it remains to be seen whether the young TE will be able to regain full health and return to the game, but the craziness of 2020 only puts further hurdles in his path as training camp rosters are reduced across the league to 80 players in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t expect Brian Flores and his staff to sit on their hands when it comes to competition – 2019 highlighted on a regularly churning roster of names being given a chance to succeed – and this approach is expected to continue at certain positions. As such, Saturday’s news that former Chicago Bears’ TE Adam Shaheen had been acquired by the Dolphins ensures that healthy competition can continue to spread through the roster, and proves the willingness of the front office to give chances to promising players who may not have achieved during their first NFL stop.

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Miami Dolphins

In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

If everything goes right, Tua Tagovailoa isn’t going to start a single game for the Miami Dolphins in 2020.

Nope, you didn’t misread that last sentence. Tua Tagovailoa riding the bench is the best thing that could happen to the Miami Dolphins this season, and if you think otherwise, then you haven’t been paying attention to what Brian Flores has been preaching since his arrival.

The obvious factor everyone is taking into consideration is the health of Tua’s hip. And while that definitely plays a part, it has minimal affect on his playing time. You see, barring a trade, Tua is the third-best quarterback on the roster right now.

Combine his inexperience, a COVID-restricted offseason, and that pesky hip injury, and it’s safe to say our questions have already been answered.

The Better Player Plays

With this team, it’s no secret that playing time is awarded based on a player’s performance both in games and during practice. It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or how much money you’re making, if you aren’t better than the athlete next to you, you aren’t playing.

In fact, didn’t we just go through a very similar situation last year when the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals for a 2nd-round draft pick?

We all assumed that Ryan Fitzpatrick was keeping the seat warm until Rosen – a top-10 draft pick one season prior – was ready, but when Flores had the opportunity to simultaneously give a young quarterback experience and tank for Tua, he did neither. Instead, opting to (nearly) sabotage the opportunity to draft Tagovailoa and win as many games as possible with Fitzpatrick.

Rosen has much more upside than Fitzpatrick, but he couldn’t muster more than 197 snaps under center last season.

Just like that, the culture was set. Flores wasn’t fucking around – it was win at all costs, and the players bought in. One season later, that mantra certainly hasn’t changed.

Tua has more talent and better quarterback traits than Fitzpatrick and Rosen (probably combined), so there’s no arguing which quarterback we want to build a franchise around, but who is going to win the team more games this season?

I don’t doubt that Tua is a football genius that will pick up a playbook quickly, but knowing your plays and executing against an NFL defense are two completely different things.

Fitzpatrick has been in the league for 15 years while Tua has been in the league for 14 weeks; there is A LOT Tua has to learn before he can make the kind of reads Fitzpatrick can instinctively make after 139 starts in the NFL.

Josh Rosen may not evolve into an elite, franchise-saving quarterback, but he’s not terrible either. Two years of experience and a season-worth of starts (16) under his belt gives him an instant edge over Tua. The only thing that levels Rosen with Tagovailoa is they’re both learning Chan Gailey‘s offense for the first time – and for Rosen, this would be his 4th different offense in the past 4 years.

Otherwise, Rosen already has a rapport with the coaching staff, the medical staff, all of the workers in the building, and the receivers on this roster. In other words, he’s comfortable in his surroundings while Tua is trying to get acclimated to a brand new life.

There are going to be growing pains and a learning curve – two things we admittedly need Tua to experience in order to evolve. But the question becomes, when can Miami afford to experience those “opportunities”? Certainly not if they believe they are…

Playoff Bound

The Miami Dolphins – and most importantly, Brian Flores – believe they are in a position to make a legitimate playoff run.

Scoff however much you’d like at the notion that this team, one year removed from being “the worst team in the NFL”, is on a cusp of making a playoff appearance, but don’t tell anyone in the Dolphins’ organization that you think that.

A remastered secondary, a veteran presence among the front-7, an entirely new offensive line, and real, productive running backs means the Dolphins are all-but-guaranteed to improve on their 5-11 record.

In fact, the only thing holding them back from a legitimate playoff run is the quarterback position.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has won more than 6 games as a starter just once in his career, and Rosen only has 3 wins to his name (none as a Dolphin). If the team falters, it’s because these two quarterbacks couldn’t carry a well-built football team to the playoffs.

And that’s where the disappointment of another lost season is met with hope for the future. It won’t be until the Dolphins are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs that the team will trot Tua Tagovailoa out onto the field.

Waiting until so late in the season checks off every single box you need. It gives him time to:

  • Learn his way around the NFL
  • Understand the playbook better
  • Observe the game from the sideline
  • Gain chemistry with his receivers

Oh, and it also helps ensure that his hip is healthy, because…

I’m Sure He’s Healthy…

Being stuck inside during an international pandemic may have made it seem like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been three short months since we all clamored to a 14 minute video of Tua Tagovailoa throwing scripted passes; our eyes inexplicably glued to a man’s hips, unscientifically judging whether or not he was healthy. Try explaining that one to your significant other.

While we are all thrilled with recent medical reports and first-hand accounts from the quarterback himself, it would be downright idiotic to mess around with a hip injury.

The only reason Tua Tagovailoa was available at the 5th-overall pick was because of the uncertainty surrounding his hip, those concerns don’t suddenly disappear just because he’s on your roster and we’re excited to see our prized possession play.

Let his hip heal and let him practice against a secondary that includes Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Bobby McCain, Brandon Jones, Noah Igbinoghene, and Eric Rowe. He’s going to learn just how quickly throwing lanes close and how tight they are to begin with.

Don’t convince yourself that Tua has to start games this rookie season to be the elite quarterback he’s projected to be. Patrick Mahomes started one game his rookie year. Aaron Rodgers didn’t start until his forth season in the NFL. If all of the hype is real, then his career will be just fine.

The plan isn’t to count moral victories, but to win football games – and Tua Tagovailoa gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to do that for the foreseeable future. But for now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your starting quarterback, and until Josh Rosen relinquishes the job as backup, it won’t be Tua’s until 2021. Mission Accomplished.

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