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Brian Flores Updates Status of Miami Dolphins

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Miami Dolphins / Jason Hrina

“Adapt or Die”

One day after Chris Grier spoke to the media and revealed absolutely nothing about the Miami Dolphins future, it was Brian Flores‘ turn to go through the merry-go-round.

It even started with an old friend of Flores stopping by to wish him well:

But the normally reserved Flores was able to elaborate a bit more on what he believes the Dolphins should be doing going forward. Most answers were vague and cliche, but there were some answers that may have tipped us off to what the Dolphins’ plan may be.

Check out everything Brian Flores elaborated on during the hour-plus interview session he conducted earlier this morning, as well as our conspiracies behind some of the interesting comments. It’s a bit lengthy, but we appreciate the insight Flores was able to give – even if some of his answers reminded us of a specific head coach in New England:

On “Tanking”:

“No, there’s no tanking. You can write that over and over and over again”

“I think the term tanking is disrespectful to the game. I don’t like the term. I don’t like when people use it. This game has done a lot for me, personally…it’s the one thing that leveled the playing field for me…to disrespect the game and use that term…it stirs something up inside of me.”

“I’m going into every game trying to win….I’m going into everything I do trying to win.”

“My conversations with (Chris Grier) have been about rebuilding the roster…but at the same time, he knows we’re not going to go out and win every game we play.”

“Yeah, (tanking) struck a nerve. It’ll always strike a nerve. It’s disrespectful to the game.”
“It’s a disrespect to the game I love. Quite honestly, I won’t stand for it.”

“We’re going to try and win every game.”

In case you weren’t able to gather from Flores’ comments about tanking, the Miami Dolphins will not be doing that in 2019. Instead, we should kindly say that the Dolphins are “rebuilding” or “evaluating their future” – because they are certainly not tanking….

On drafting QB in 2019 and/or 2020:

“Maybe there’s a better nose tackle than QB at the time, but obviously quarterback is a position that’s wide open”

“We’re not opposed to (it)…maybe we do take a QB this year and next year…maybe we take a (offensive) tackle this year and next year…”

“We’re going to make the roster moves and selections that we believe will best help the team overall”

Flores didn’t give us much here. As you’ll notice with plenty of topics today, Flores did his best Bill Belichick and listed every outcome as a possibility. Thanks for the recap, Brian…

On Creating Competition:

“Any time you can create competition at a position, you do it”

“Competition (brings out) the best”

“You want to build that competition on your roster”

It seems like Flores went out of his way to reiterate that the Miami Dolphins are trying to obtain the best players possible, regardless of how it affects the egos of the current players on the roster. This is probably one of the biggest pain points for both Dolphins fans and Dolphins players over the past 5 years, as Ryan Tannehill has been able to skirt by without any legitimate competition for his job.

On the Roster (in general):

“I think right now, as a team, we’re looking to improve everyday and get better”

“It’s ongoing. I think we have a pretty good feel for the guys on the roster.”

“Having that competition will yield the best players…everyone needs competition”

“If you’re one of the best 11 you’ll be on the field”

“The big thing is getting guys into the building. Seeing how much they can retain and handle schematically.”

“I don’t want to make a prediction on that…we’re going to do everything possible to bring the best players possible onto the team.”

“(The) second we got in the building that was the #1 objective (evaluating the roster). To find out what we have. The skill sets of each individual. How they are as people. Their work habits; their training habits.”

On 2020:

“I don’t think too far ahead…when you think too far ahead you aren’t thinking about the present.”

“I’m doing a disservice to our coaching staff, our players, our support staff…I’m doing them a disservice if I’m thinking about December”

“Some of the moves we’ve made is with that in mind”

“To win games…to go out and compete and win on a weekly basis.”

“We’ll always have an eye on the future. Our acquisitions…it’s good business practice. Regardless of your record, you should always try and do what’s best for the team now and in the future”

Goal for 2020? “Get better everyday….improve and get better everyday”

“Just keep being who I’ve been for 38 years”

On the Offensive Line:

This first quote may be one of the most eye-opening of Flores’ media session. This is the time of year for smokescreens, but judging by the tone of his voice and the manner in which he answered the question, it makes me (heavily) wonder if offensive line is priority #1 for Miami. The quote itself doesn’t reveal too much, but reading into all of the quotes surrounding the offensive line and you come away with the impression that the Dolphins are looking to build their OL before anything else:

“We’ll obviously have an emphasis on the offensive line in the draft”

“The OL, the protection, that’s something near-and-dear to me as well.”

“Definitely something we’ll invest in…we’ll build this offensive line.”

“That was something Chris, myself, Steve…really during the interview stages…something we really talked about: how we’re going to build the offensive and defensive line”

“We’re not there yet, I think it’s obvious to everyone looking at it”

“We have to build the depth there. We have some good young players. We’re going to try and develop them”

On Charles Harris:

This may have been the most interesting stretch of questions Flores answered during the media session. He does his best to compliment Charles Harris, but the descriptions he provides couldn’t have been more generic. Of course Harris still has a chance to impress the new coaching regime, but Flores couldn’t pinpoint one specific thing about Harris that could have provided us fans with any bit of optimism:

The generic description: “I watched a lot of tape. He’s got size, speed, athleticism…plays hard…does a lot of things we like as a staff….he’s an interesting player on our team”

The backhanded compliment: “He can do a lot of things. He can rush. Play in space a little bit. Tackles fairly well.”

The fatality: “I think everyone’s timetable is a little bit different. There are a lot of factors in that. Could be a thousand factors.”

And yet, as a defensive coach (who has played against Harris four times during his two-year career), Flores couldn’t name one factor. Ouch.

On Ryan Fitzpatrick:

Why did Miami sign Ryan Fitzpatrick? “Because he’s a leader, first and foremost”

“I watched Ryan for a long time…I coached against him…the one thing you hear over and over and over again is his ability to connect with players – offensively and defensively – and kind of lead…he’s a great fit for us. We’re excited to have him”

“We have a lot of the same beliefs…working hard…he’s obviously a very intelligent guy. Learning so many different systems. Understanding the game; understanding the concepts of the game. A lot of things that are important to me line up (with Fitzpatrick).”

On Kenyan Drake:

“I think (Kenyan) Drake is an explosive player; I’ve seen it first-hand unfortunately…”

“He’s a talented player, he catches the ball well. Good runner. Runs hard. Does a lot of very good things. But…I’ll say this to all the players…the opportunities they get on the field will be up to them. Period. If they practice well, if they’re smart, tough, block, catch the ball consistently, hit the hole correctly, they’re going to play.”

“By committee or workhorse…those are phrases people throw out there. But I think the guys that perform in practice and produce in games, those are the guys that are going to be out there”

Can Drake handle the pressure of being a “workhorse”?
“If that’s what’s best for the team, that’s what we’ll do. If that’s best for the Miami Dolphins, that’s what we’ll do. We have some good backs. (Kalen) Ballage is a good back. We may draft a back, we may not draft a back. We may pick up a back as a college free agent.”

This was yet another quote where Flores listed every possible outcome for what the Dolphins will do at running back. Personally, I get the impression that Flores is not sold on his running back room and will look to improve it with a mid to late-round draft pick.

On Jesse Davis:

“Versatility on the offensive line is critical”

“Ability to play tackle and guard is very good…we’re excited about Jesse (Davis)”

“We’re going to put players where we need them and where they help the team the most”

“We’re going to move guys around. Players are going to move, they’re going to play different positions.”

“Only 46 can go to the game, someone has to be able to play multiple positions”

Overall, Flores was very generic about Davis. He did praise him for his durability and versatility, but didn’t say much else outside of the fact that he believes he has a solution at RG or RT with Jesse Davis. Problem is, we watched him decline as a sophomore last season, so we’re a tad hesitant to make him our replacement for Ja’Wuan James at right tackle.

On Communication:

Not sure if Flores understands Dolphins fans this early in his tenure and had something to say about previous coaching regimes, or if this response coincidentally hits close to home for all of us, but his comments about communication is both refreshing for us and insulting to previous Dolphins head coaches:

“I think communication first and foremost (is vital). Ownership, managers, presidents, head coaches – there has to be an alignment of philosophies and a communication on a day-to-day basis that allows for a good working environment”

“That being said, there will always be differences of opinion…but you have to work through them”

“In my short time in Miami we’ve been aligned”

“We can’t ask the players to communicate if we can’t communicate…we need to practice what we preach…I think we have guys willing to do that”

Looks like Flores is able to do the one thing Jeff Ireland/Tony Sparano, Jeff Ireland/Joe Philbin, Mike Tannenbaum/Adam Gase/Stephen Ross were unable to do during their tenures, and that’s exhibit some form of cohesion across the franchise.

On Rob Gronkowski:

There was a few-minute stretch during the session where Flores was asked extensively about Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement.

In short, Flores complimented and praised Gronkowski for a few minutes – which honestly, is nothing any Dolphins fan needs to hear right now – so we’ll just leave that part of the session alone. If you’re really a masochist (or a New England Patriots fan on this website for some reason), skip to the 13-minute mark of the interview

On Minkah Fitzpatrick:

“(Minkah Fitzpatrick) is a football player. His strength is he can play a lot of positions. He’s versatile.”

“I’m not going to give up the goods on (how we’ll use Fitzpatrick)”

“Versatility will be very important and he’s a very versatile player. We’re excited to work with him.”

I get the feeling that the Miami Dolphins are looking to use Fitzpatrick as a safety or a slot corner. Given Bobby McCain‘s status as an active member of this roster in 2019, I’d say it’s more likely we see Minkah at safety than boundary cornerback.

On Eric Rowe:

“He’s tall, long; good speed; tackles well. Does a lot of good things. Has been hit with the injury bug a couple of times, but when healthy he’s been a productive player…we obviously know the kind of person he is, his work ethic. I think he’s a good player, a good talent”

“He will compete to play…he’s played on the left side, right side, inside, safety in college. Another guy who’s versatile. Mentally he can handle it. We’re excited to have (him)”

On T.J. McDonald:

“I think (T.J. McDonald) is another versatile player. He can play safety. Linebacker. Blitz pretty well.”

“Lays into some of the things I’ve done defensively…as far as moving pieces into different locations.”

“He’s big, he’s fast, he can tackle. We’ll find space for guys who are big, fast and can tackle. Those are at the top of my list of things I’m looking for defensively.”

I feel like Brian Flores is pumping up T.J. McDonald in an attempt to maintain trade value this offseason. While McDonald may serve a purpose in Flores’ 2019 defense, he most certainly isn’t a player that will be around in the future. Miami would love nothing more than to obtain a draft pick for a player who has a higher dead cap hit than regular salary cap hit this season (courtesy of Mike Tannebaum’s contract wizardry). I wouldn’t be surprised to see McDonald traded before the 2019 season begins.

On Kiko Alonso:

“I do see (Kiko Alonso) on this roster…he’s been a productive player in this league for a long time…his leadership…all the things I hear are positive.”

Due to the linebacking unit being so thin, as well as Kiko’s 2019 dead cap hit if he’s released, I’m not sure if the Dolphins can afford to kick Alonso off of the roster. Similar to McDonald, it’s possible Flores is pumping up Alonso to maintain trade value.

On Tight End:

“There is so much versatility at that position; you have to catch, you have to block, you have to lineup at multiple positions, you can have multiple tight ends on the field (at the same time).”

“Having depth at the position is important. Depth is vital just from a practice standpoint…you need that many guys.”

“Part of getting Dwayne (Allen) and Clive (Walford)” was because they were veteran guys.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami’s 2020 tight ends aren’t on the roster at this moment.

On the Draft:

“As we go through the draft process…Chris (Grier) and I are going to select the player that’s the best player for the Miami Dolphins.”

(After naming almost every position) “every position is important. Quarterback is of utmost importance…if we identify someone we like that we can develop and that can contribute to this team, that’s who we’re going to pick”

“You rely on the draft process from past years…we sat in with Minkah (Fitzpatrick) a few years ago…whether you take the guy or not, you’re just gathering information on specific players.”

“That process is on-going”

My expectation? Miami trades back to gather more draft picks for 2020 while using 2019’s draft picks for offensive line and defensive line depth.

On being the Head Coach up to this point:

“It’s been a blur. The last 6 weeks…the last 15 months really…lose a Super Bowl, get a new job, go through the process of being a defensive coordinator and getting in front of the room. Going through a season – the ups and downs. Win a super bowl, take a new job.”

“I’m fortunate to have these opportunities. I relish the moment to lead this team and to lead men”

“I got into coaching not for the fame or status, but to impact people. To impact young men, people in the building.”

“Try and make an impact every day and help people succeed.”

Image Credit: Mike Reiss

On which Coach can mentor him on Clock Management, etc:

“We have a few guys on staff that can fill that role…Jim Caldwell (he then named most of his staff)

On the Perception of the the Team:

“My focus…the daily focus…how to maneuver the pieces to – overall as an organization – to put the best product on the field.

“I don’t read headlines or go into all of that”

“(Preparation) will yield a good performance”

On these NFL Meetings:

“This being my first go-around, I think it’s incredible they spend a bunch of time on the competition committee”

“What’s been incredible the past couple of days…you’re sitting in a room with coaches, GMs, higher-ups….and the goal is to make the game better.”

“I’m one of 32.”

“I’m privileged and humbled to be in that room to try and give your opinion and make the game better”

Flores would go on to thank Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton for the effort they put into these meetings to prepare and represent all of the head coaches around the league.

On Minority HCs:

“I think there are a lot of quality, minority coaches in this league that have the ability to be head coaches in this league….I was fortunate to get an opportunity to interview. I interviewed at 4 places this year; interviewed at Arizona last year. I believe there are a lot of minority head coaches that, if given the opportunity, would excel”

“I think the Rooney Rule is a great rule. It allows guys to interview and get your name out there and show your leadership abilities”

“I know I’m an example for minority coaches in this league. With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to lead the Miami Dolphins and try and produce a winning product.”

I actually did not know that Flores received so many interviews this year and one with the Arizona Cardinals last year. It seems Flores was a known commodity, though it’s possible some teams were just looking to satisfy the Rooney Rule. This may be very fortunate for the Dolphins future.

As an Offensive coach, how does he identify Defensive coaches:

“Being a head coach is about leadership. It’s not about offense or defense or special teams, it’s about leadership. I have to stand in front of 90 guys on the roster, 53 in the season, 50-60 people in equipment to IT….and get them to follow me. That’s what being a head coach in this league is all about.”

“Offense. Defense….I’m just a coach. I can coach offense, I can coach defense, I can coach special teams…”

“I imagine people want leaders in leadership positions.”

Whereas Adam Gase was an offensive mind in a head coaching position, Brian Flores is an overall leader. That’s why many fans were interested in Darren Rizzi as a potential head coach for the Dolphins.

On top of having a successful special teams unit, Rizzi was viewed as more of a leader than Gase ever was. Fortunately for Dolphins fans, it seems Flores understands he’s not perfect and is willing to rely on his coaching staff for assistance.

Something Adam Gase never really did.

How does patience align with Flores personality:

This was probably one of the weirder questions, though I understand where it’s coming from – the organization and its fans need to be patient in 2019 as 2020 is the year to really look forward to.

“Patience is a virtue…it’s a quality that’s important to have.”

“At the same time, there has to be a balance between patience and urgency…I have a pretty good balance from that standpoint. We have to be patient and develop players”

“Try and create an environment of urgency to speed up the process of development”

Favorite quote of the session:

“We have a phrase in the building: ‘Adapt or Die'”

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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