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Miami Dolphins 2010 All-Decade Team: Offense

Jason Hrina

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The Miami Dolphins may have wasted the past decade of our lives with one lonely trip to the postseason, a 68-89 regular season record (0.433% winning percentage), and a rebuilding effort that has already occurred four times since 2000, but that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge and recognize the players that went above and beyond their civic duty as Miami Dolphins and actually excelled at their craft.

Check out who made our Offensive All-Decade team below and let us know if there’s anyone you’d replace:

For our 2010-All-Decade Offensive Team, click here.

Note: only stats that apply to the 2010-2019 seasons – as well as the player’s respective position – apply. For example, Laremy Tunsil’s stats at LG and Brian Hartline’s stats in 2009 are not included.

Left Tackle: Laremy Tunsil
Games Started: 30 (at LT)
Sacks Allowed: 7

QB Hits Allowed: 15
Hurries Allowed: 33

From public relations nightmare to the best young left tackle in the NFL, Laremy Tunsil has been riding a roller coaster career. Assuming he can stop moving before the ball is snapped, Tunsil is on his way to compiling a Hall of Fame career, and will probably go down as one of the best left tackles to play the game this century.

Teasing aside, Tunsil was an island on the left side of the offensive line. Both cheaper and younger than Branden Albert, Tunsil spent a year learning the position before taking over for the former prized free agent. Though he was never rewarded with a Pro Bowl berth in Miami, his skill level was so obvious that the Houston Texans had no trouble dangling more than two 1st-round picks for him.

Sure enough, his first year off of the Dolphins earns him a Pro Bowl nod with the Texans. Fitting for a player fans knew was a cornerstone for years to come.

The only aspect that might be disappointing about Tunsil’s spot on this list is the lack of longevity. Having only played two seasons at the position, it speaks heavily about the other “contenders” more than it does Tunsil’s production.

Left Guard: Richie Incognito
Games Started: 55
Sacks Allowed: 17

QB Hits Allowed: 19
Hurries Allowed: 29

This may be the last player you expected to see pop up on this list, but when you have collectively sported one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL this decade there aren’t many options to choose from.

Richie Incognito got into plenty of trouble while a member of the Miami Dolphins. If he wasn’t feeling up a golf attendant’s leg with a golf club or instigating fights with opposing players on the field, he was busy causing the biggest scandal the Dolphins have endured in the history of their franchise.

All of the headaches and potential legal actions aside, Incognito was the best offensive guard the Miami Dolphins have had this decade (partly by default, but mostly because he was a very good player).

If you can separate the human being from the football player, every team wants Richie Incognito on their offensive line. Given the ticking timebomb that came with acquiring Incognito, the Dolphins were somewhat fortunate enough that he lasted nearly 4 years with the team.

Center: Mike Pouncey
Games Started: 81
Sacks Allowed: 10

QB Hits Allowed: 17
Hurries Allowed: 50

A former 1st-round pick selected 15th-overall, Mike Pouncey began his career dominating opposing defenders. As his hips began to deteriorate, and the team’s shoddy camaraderie started to come to light, Dolphins fans began to wane on Pouncey’s performance as a player.

On the surface, the Dolphins received a lesser version of his twin brother, Maurkice Pouncey. Though if you dig deeper into their careers, you find that the Dolphins are once again stifled by the stigma that plagues their organization.

Raise your hand if you think Maurkice is the “better” Pouncey (I know I did)? Take note of Pouncey’s stats above as you compare them to Maurkice’s first 6 seasons in the NFL (77 total games) in which he allowed 12 sacks, 13 QB hits and 73 hurries.

Pouncey’s reputation may be stained by the “Free (Aaron) Hernandez” hat, Bullygate, or the occasional off-the-field incident (all things he brought onto himself), but he’s the best center the Miami Dolphins have had in decades, and you can make a very good argument that he was underappreciated during his time in Miami.

Right Guard: John Jerry
Games Started: 32
Sacks Allowed: 10

QB Hits Allowed: 12
Hurries Allowed: 55

Ask any Miami Dolphins fan who they would rather have, and I’m sure the answer is going to be Jesse Davis. But between the constant position changes and inconsistent play, it’s hard to put the three-year veteran ahead of John Jerry.

This is probably the one honor that genuinely goes to a player by default rather than his actual accomplishments, though honestly, I implore you to find a better RG this decade than Jerry – it’s not possible.

Tony Sparano and his staff coached the South Team in the 2010 Senior Bowl, which John Jerry was part of. Sparano was so enamored with Jerry’s athletic and physical attributes that the former offensive line coach made drafting Jerry a priority in the 2010 NFL Draft – eventually selecting him in the 3rd-round, 73rd-overall.

The potential and growth may have been there, but it never came to fruition with the Dolphins. Admirable enough to avoid imminently replacing him, the Dolphins spent plenty of assets plugging other offensive line holes before succumbing to the fact that this team could not continue with the combination of Incognito, Pouncey, Jerry and Jonathan Martin on their offensive line.

Given Incognito’s involvement in Bullygate, Jerry’s lackluster skillset and Martin’s unstable health, the Dolphins used this time to purge everyone except for Mike Pouncey. Needless to say they still haven’t figured this thing out.

Oh, and for those that are wondering, here are Jesse Davis’ stats at RG: 9 sacks, 9 QB hits and 36 hurries (in 2 years).

Right Tackle: Ja’Wuan James
Games Started: 54 (at RT)
Sacks Allowed: 20

QB Hits Allowed: 19
Hurries Allowed: 79

Every right tackle that has started for the Miami Dolphins this decade has been putrid, except for Ja’Wuan James.

Although every other year was a trip to injured-reserve waiting to happen, James was a very good player….when everything came together. For every top-notch game the former 1st-round pick had, there’s an equally embarrassing highlight of him completely whiffing on the competition.

Overall, James’ five-year tenure was marred with annual inconsistency; enough to justify an expensive contract extension while simultaneously being a risky endeavor to offer. Given the 13 games he’s missed this season for the Denver Broncos, I’d say the Dolphins made the right decision with their money.

Of course, this trend means that James is going to be a dominant RT for the Broncos next year and we’ll probably wonder why we didn’t extend him, but don’t let that facade fool you. The number of hurries he let up as a tackle are troublesome, and if Miami is going to have a certain left-handed quarterback going forward, you need a more-stabilizing blocker than this.

Still, it’s hard to say James is a busted 1st-round pick when he provided 5 (somewhat adequate) years of service. Frankly, it’s more than what most other 1st-round picks have contributed in recent history.

Wide Receiver: Jarvis Landry
Games Active: 64
Receptions: 400
Receiving Yards: 4,038
Touchdowns: 22

If there was one player that brought attention to an organization that hasn’t had national respect since the 20th century, it was Jarvis Landry.

His enthusiastic passion for the game sometimes got him in trouble with the league, his coaching staff, or the referees, but it was a refreshing sight to see. He wanted to win. He craved winning. And instead of trying to harness and maintain all of his energy, they decided to let him go.

There are plenty of positive reasons for doing so: less drama, more money and extra draft picks. But we’re also left wondering why we’re irrelevant again. If this team can’t properly handle an ego or two, they’re going to be abysmal forever.

Landry’s intense playing style and no-holds-barred attitude made him a fan favorite. It gave this team a passion that hadn’t existed since the Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas days. You wanted to play for Jarvis Landry, and Jarvis Landry wanted to play for the Miami Dolphins.

Some vehemently argue that Landry is a possession receiver, but if you’ve watched at least one of his seasons in Miami you’d know that’s simply not true.

While his contract is expensive, his electrifying performance warrants the heavy price tag. Miami is going to spend a ton of money on “play makers” going forward, and it’s likely going to be awhile until we see another one like Landry.

Wide Receiver: Brian Hartline
Games Active: 76
Receptions: 267
Receiving Yards: 3,737
Touchdowns: 9

Brian Hartline was as steady as they came.

If he was able to get his hands on the ball, he was probably going to haul it in. Staying on his feet is another story, but Ryan Tannehill‘s original security blanket ran the crispest routes on the field, and if he were paired up with Tom Brady instead of Julian Edelman, you’d probably hear his name floating around as one of the best receivers in the league.

Both durable (active for 76 out of 80 potential regular season games) and reliable, Hartline isn’t going to make the kind of plays DeAndre Hopkins makes, but every single organization needs someone like him on their team.

Hartline was rewarded with a 5-year, $31m contract extension prior to the 2013 season before Miami released him for financial reasons after the 2014 season.

For some, Hartline was viewed as a #3 receiver being paid like a #1. For others, they saw a reliable target that was going to enhance this offense rather than hurt it.

If anything, Hartline proved you don’t need to be the “best” receiver on the field, you just need to be the smartest.

Wide Receiver: DeVante Parker*
*Stats as of Week 15, 2019
Games Active: 68
Receptions: 222
Receiving Yards: 3,171
Touchdowns: 17

When I started writing this article a few weeks ago, I had DeVante Parker as an honorable mention…behind both Brandon Marshall and Kenny Stills.

Though Parker’s statistics may have been better to some degree, he needed 4+ years to get there while Marshall was nearly-dominant in the 2 seasons he was in Miami and Stills was a touchdown machine for an anemic offense.

After a dominant month and a 4-year, $40m contract extension, Parker has solidified himself as Miami’s true #1 receiver.

We may all be gritting our teeth that he stays healthy, but we can’t deny that the skillset is there. He’s a near-lock to outplay a defender on a 50/50 ball, his catch-radius is insane and his hands are pretty reliable. It only took the Dolphins 5 years to realize that all you need to do is throw it up in Parker’s direction and he’ll come down with it.

Barring an unforseen meltdown or decline in Parker’s potential, you’re looking at Miami’s best wide receiver since Chris Chambers or the Marks Brothers.

Tight End: Charles Clay
Games Active: 58
Receptions: 161
Receiving Yards: 1,809
Touchdowns: 14

Charles Clay is the one athletic project that a Dolphins’ coaching staff got right.

Though it took a couple of seasons before Clay flourished on the field, he eventually developed into a playmaking receiver and a reliable blocker. His versatility as an H-Back (tight end, fullback hybrid) opened up Miami’s playbook and forced defenses to fear the tight end position for what seems like the only time this decade.

His production was so well-respected by Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, that he wildly outbid the Dolphins the year Clay hit free agency under the premise that he would secure his seam threat and diminish a division rival.

Though Clay has never made a Pro Bowl, and his career production won’t earn him any lifelong accolades, the former 6th-round pick will go down as one of the Dolphins’ best draft picks in the history of their franchise.

If you ever wonder how beloved Clay is by this fanbase, just see how the fans reacted when he signed with the Bills.

Running Back: Lamar Miller
Games Active: 61
Rushing Yards: 2,930
Rushing Yards-per-Attempt: 4.6
Total Touchdowns: 19

Lamar Miller is a quintessentially good running back. Drafted one round after fellow University of Miami standout Olivier Vernon in 2012, Miller was selected under the guise that he would soon develop into a a #1 running back.

Miami’s offensive line issues may have kept Miller from really excelling in South Florida, but his 2013 season was very impressive all things considered. With a 5.1 yards-per-attempt average, 1,099 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns, Miller was the kind of running back that could take the pressure of his quarterback and keep the offense two-dimensional.

A workhorse throughout his time in Miami, Miller did everything right for this team. He may not have been the flashy running back fans yearn to see, but he was going to win you football games, and that’s all you can ask for from your players.

Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill
Games Started: 88
Passing Yards: 20,434
Completion %: 62.8%
Passing Touchdowns: 123

There really isn’t any other option for this position. When you spend 7 seasons evaluating one player, it’s tough to anoint anyone else, and thus, here we are.

Ryan Tannehill’s performance this season with the Tennessee Titans leaves Dolphins’ homers and haters equally perplexed. For awhile, we felt this team had the wrong players. As more time passes, and more players end up on other teams, the more we come to realize that our coaching staffs have been extremely incompetent all of these years.

Then again, if the Dolphins were adept at scouting quarterbacks, they could have had Russel Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson or Lamar Jackson. Instead, we have nobody.

Honorable Mentions:

Brandon Marshall:
Games Active: 30
Receptions: 167
Receiving Yards: 2,228
Touchdowns: 9

Brandon Marshall’s tumultuous time with the Dolphins has left a stain on his legacy in Miami.

Acquired for two 2nd-round draft picks, the Dolphins finally found themselves a vintage #1 receiver. Miami knew there were some maturity issues involved, but his skillset outweighed the attitude.

While it’s absolutely fair to have wanted more from Marshall (given his dominance at the position and the price tag it cost to obtain him), we still have to give him the respect he’s due. If it weren’t for a befuddling altercation he had with his wife that involved a knife and plenty of cop cars, Marshall may have been with the team longer.

Still, in his two-year stint, Marshall caught 167 passes for 2,228 yards and 9 Touchdowns. There are plenty of “what-ifs” that surround Brandon Marshall’s career, but in a futile and almost nonexistent decade for the Miami Dolphins, Marshall still shines bright.

Reggie Bush:
Games Active: 31
Rushing Yards: 2,072
Rushing Yards-per-Attempt: 4.7
Total Touchdowns: 12

Reggie Bush may be famous for his flirtatious flings with Kim Kardashian, or for his legendary college prowess as a former Heisman Trophy winner, but these things shouldn’t overshadow his production in his limited time in Miami.

Under contract for only two seasons, Bush came to Miami with a reputation as a “change of pace” back who hadn’t received more than 157 rushing attempts in his career.

The Dolphins bulldozed that logic and rushed Bush 216 times in 2011 and 227 times in 2012, both with excellent results.

The only thing preventing Bush from making this list is longevity. The electricity, playmaking ability, leadership and star power was all there – Miami just chose to let it go.

Kenny Stills:
Games Active: 63
Receptions: 164
Receiving Yards: 2,566
Touchdowns: 24

With off-the-field interactions taking precedence over his on-the-field performance, we often overlook just how good Kenny Stills was for the Miami Dolphins.

Acquired from the New Orleans Saints for a 3rd-round pick, and then rewarded with a 4-year, $32m contract, Kenny Stills earned every bit his overall cost. Some argued that Stills was solely a deep threat on a team that couldn’t hit the deep pass, and while his 15.6 yards-per-reception supports that number, his reliability shouldn’t be overlooked.

Outside of a horrendous wide-open drop in Seattle that could have given the Dolphins the victory, Stills would make touchdown catches in pockets of space that didn’t exist. If the Miami Miracle didn’t happen, his San Diego Chargers highlight (shown under Tannehill’s section of the article) or the one shown below would make a good case as the play-of-the-decade.

Even when Stills came down with the ball, not a single person thought this was a touchdown because, duh, there’s only about 6 inches of space between the heel of his foot and the back of the endzone.

His 2,566 yards over 4 years isn’t eye opening, but his 24 touchdowns are. If DeVante Parker hadn’t come into his own recently, Stills would be the 3rd-receiver on this list.

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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