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Miami Dolphins Bottom-5 Worst Draft Picks of the 21st Century

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jonathan Brownfield-USA TODAY Sports

What a strenuously easy task to take on.

In a century littered with terrible draft picks, the problem wasn’t finding players to fit the criteria, it was deciding which players were more-deserving than the others.

Though every team is expected to have annual draft “busts”, the Miami Dolphins have made it their mission to screw up the most-prominent picks they have accrued this century.

How often do teams get multiple 2nd-round draft picks 3 years in a row (answer: since 2000, 2, both the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots had multiple 2nd-round picks between 2009-2011), and yet, with those additional selections, the Dolphins couldn’t create a roster that had more than 1 winning season (2016).

If you were basing your bottom-5 off of statistics alone, your list would consist of 5 players that you’ve never heard of. Players like Jeff Harris (CB – 2000), Josh Heupel (QB – 2001), Tim Provost (T – 2003), Drew Mormino (C – 2007) or Chris McCoy (DE – 2010). So for the bottom-5 draft picks, we’re also taking into account value, overall performance and eventual implications to the Dolphins franchise.

See who made the cut and who just missed down below:

5) Jason Allen – 1st-round (#16 overall)

The punctuation mark to Nick Saban‘s tenure as the Miami Dolphins head coach.

Infamously choosing Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees, Saban was clearly over-matched at the NFL level. A stellar college head coach who was used to recruiting a dominant team full of high school’s best players, Saban was surprised to learn that you only get a few elite talents – the rest you have to actually “coach up”.

Well, Saban’s coaching philosophy of yelling at everyone was confirmed after he made Manuel Wright cry during training camp back in 2005. Problem is, it didn’t translate to a successful NFL team.

Insert one of those lottery tickets Saban had to work with. Instead of bolstering the team around him, he failed miserably when he over-drafted Jason Allen with the 16th-overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.

It’s easy to look at this in retrospect, but the only players selected after Allen that you could deem as “worse” picks were Manny Lawson (22nd-overall), John McCargo (26th) and Kelly Jennings (31st). The next cornerback taken in the draft? Antonio Cromartie at 19.

Allen lasted 4.5 years with the Dolphins and was active for 71 total games while starting just 19 of them. He averaged less than 2 interceptions per season with Miami (8 total interceptions), forced one fumble back in 2007, and never even recorded a quarterback hit let alone a sack. Allen had 19 passes defended during his Dolphins tenure, which was a mere average of 4.22 per season. And it’s not because opposing QBs avoided Allen, he just never seemed to defend his assignment well.

A missed 1st-round pick at #16 overall isn’t terrible, but General Manager Randy Mueller (2005-2007) is responsible for Ronnie Brown (not Aaron Rodgers), Jason Allen (not….anyone else) and Ted Ginn Jr. (the second receiver taken after Calvin Johnson that draft). If there was a worse stretch of crushing 1st-round draft picks for the Miami Dolphins, it was well before the NFL draft was viewed as favorably as it is now. While all 3 have hurt Miami in their own ways, Allen is certainly the least productive of the bunch and he finds himself above the other two disappointments.

4) Phillip Merling – 2nd-round (#32 overall)

Essentially an extra 1st-round pick, Miami figured it would solidify two bookend positions by getting an elite left tackle and a dominant defensive end. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, only 1/2 of that premonition came true (Jake Long) – and even that reprieve was only temporary.

Phillip Merling was an absolute disaster for Miami. Kendall Langford, drafted in the 3rd-round and 34 picks later, had a much more extensive and productive career than Merling did; which is great for Langford and the “acorn” they were able to uncover, but it also means that Miami’s most valuable assets (high draft picks) were failures that required additional assets to cover these mistakes.

Merling survived his rookie contract with the team, but managed to start just 5 games throughout his tenure. He combined to record 67 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss and 10 QB hits (an average of 16.75 tackles / 1.25 TFLs / 2.5 QB hits per season).

His lone highlight remains the infamous interception return for a touchdown against Brett Favre and the New York Jets to help seal the division for Miami in 2008. Though even that memory doesn’t sway us from remembering how underwhelming he was for the Dolphins.

3) Pat White – 2nd-round (#44 overall)

It shows you just how much of an impact Players 1 and 2 on this list had for the Miami Dolphins organization when Pat White is #3.

From a player perspective, Pat White is most likely the worst draft pick this century. When researching his statistics, he appears as a rusher before a quarterback. That’s because during the 13 games he was active for his rookie season, White managed to rush 21 times for 81 yards (3.9 yards/carry) and, fitting enough, threw only 5 passes – completing 0 of them.

His career quarterback rating: 39.6. For comparisons sake, Nathan Peterman‘s career QB rating is 68.5.

Originally drafted to be the wildcard in Tony Sparano‘s Wildcat offense, Pat White lacked the size, weight, strength and skill necessary to be a productive NFL player.

Visions of opposing defenses standing utterly confused and left wondering if Pat White was going to throw, run or hand the ball off never came to fruition. And it all came to a halt after White took a nasty hit from Ike Taylor of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 his rookie year.

White suffered a concussion and never played another down in the NFL.

Though White’s rushing numbers in college were impressive for West Virginia (an average of 1120 rushing yards per season), his passing numbers were equivalently unimpressive (an average of 1512 passing yards per season).

Whatever Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano schemed up, it was about as harmonious and successful as their tenure together.

2) Dion Jordan – 1st-round (#3 overall)

One was self-destructive while the other affected different lives and entities; that’s probably the lone (yet significant) difference between #2 and #1 on our list.

After orchestrating a draft-day steal of a trade with the Oakland Raiders, Jeff Ireland then went and lit that good fortune ablaze when he selected the extremely athletic yet eternally turmoiled Dion Jordan.

If Ireland was hesitant to draft Dez Bryant, I’m not sure what convinced him to take Jordan with the #3 overall pick.

A history of demons that he assured was behind him, the Dolphins couldn’t pass up on a perfectly prototypical defensive end. Mired with internal struggles and negative influences from his friends & family, Jordan fell victim to the vices that plagued him; rendering him nearly nonexistent throughout his Dolphins tenure.

During his “4-year career” with the Dolphins, Jordan was active for just 26 games (41% of all possible games) and made only 1 start. He racked up 46 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss and 7 QB hits.

His “4-year career” is a mirage, as his last snap with the team was in 2014. After missing the 2015 season due to a year-long suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and missing 2016 “recovering from an injury”, Jordan signed with the Seattle Seahawks and proceeded to have a more-productive 5-game stretch out west than he combined to have in 4 years back east.

In just those 5 games, Jordan accumulated 18 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss and 5 QB hits while also forcing a fumble – which was something he never accomplished in Miami (a turnover).

Since Jordan last played for the Dolphins, the team has gone through players like Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Robert Quinn and Charles Harris in hopes of finding a suitable starting defensive end. Olivier Vernon was the last productive player to line up opposite Cameron Wake, and he only cost a 3rd-round pick. To still be searching for a viable defensive end 6 offseasons later speaks to the detriment Jordan caused as a failed #3-overall pick.

Honorable Mentions

Here we have the list of players that bring us dread, discomfort and dismay. These players weren’t simply unsuccessful, but they were a detriment to the franchise. Some only for a short period of time, while others left an eternal mark. Check out which players did just enough to avoid the list:

Daniel Thomas – 2nd-round (#62 overall)

A phenomenal running back in college, the Dolphins figured they identified a steal when they traded their 3rd (79th- overall), 5th (146th-overall) and 7th (217th-overall) round picks to move back into the 2nd-round and select Daniel Thomas.

Averaging 1425 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns his final two years at Kansas State, Thomas combined for just 1480 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns throughout his 4-year NFL career. His 3.6 yards per carry career average didn’t translate to the “downhill running back” he was intended to be, as Thomas didn’t have the strength to break through the defensive line, and he didn’t have the speed to outrun opposing linebackers and defensive ends.

Eventually released and brought back on two separate occasions, Thomas may be the final lesson the Miami Dolphins front office learned about the running back position and its evolution.

Koa Misi – 2nd-round (#40 overall)

On this list more for the all the jokes we can sling at the front office than his overall production, Koa Misi wasn’t a bad linebacker for the Dolphins….when healthy. Problem is, his health deteriorated relatively quickly, and after signing a contract extension in 2017, he was almost immediately placed on Injured Reserve due to his neck injury. This extension cost the Dolphins a chance at signing Zach Brown, who went on to have one of the best seasons for any linebacker that year.

Truth be told, Misi wasn’t a bad player for the Dolphins during his rookie contract. He signed his first extension in 2013 and did have three productive seasons from there. However, his production was never dominant, and outside of his rookie season where he seemed to do a little bit of everything (2 passes defended, 2 fumble recovers, 1 touchdown, 4.5 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss and 7 QB hits), Misi was simply an average linebacker.

Normally not one to be deemed a “bottom 5” draft pick, but relying on him those final two seasons turned a solid career sour.

If anything, Koa Misi’s production further exasperates just how bad these other players were – because none of them have a stat line that even hints at being productive, let alone worthwhile.

John Beck – 2nd-round (#40 overall)

The first of the merry bunch of 2nd-round quarterbacks Miami selected between 2007-2009, John Beck’s inefficiency is the reason we have the legendary Cleo Lemon to Greg Camarillo play we have today.

After losing the first 4 starts of his career with a 56.1% completion percentage, 559 yards (less than 150 yards per game), 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, Beck was replaced by Lemon in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens. It was the only game Miami won that season.

If anything, we can thank Beck for his aid in helping Miami tank. It should have set us up for the perfect rebuild, but instead, the Dolphins decided to select….

Jake Long – 1st-round (#1 overall)

It’s an understatement to say that this one set the franchise back a bit. In fact, you can argue that the Miami Dolphins have yet to recover from this draft. While selecting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers in 2006 is equally as bad (if not worse), Miami still had an opportunity to get themselves out of mediocre oblivion by selecting Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick in the draft. Instead, we got a potential hall of fame left tackle that broke down just as his medical report suggested.

Jake Long was an excellent left tackle for the first 4 years of his career, but injuries began to take a toll and the former #1-overall pick began to wear down.

Initially, you had a point if you said Miami made the right decision drafting Long. He was essentially a lock to go to the hall of fame, and you figured the team could find that quarterback at any other point during his career. Well that logic subsequently gave us John Beck, Chad Henne and Pat White in the 2nd-round of the draft – all in successive years (2007-2009). Also, unlike bonafide franchise left tackles like Joe Thomas or Jason Peters, Jake Long didn’t have a prominent and lengthy career, meaning Miami is yet again on the infinite loop of rebuilding.

Leonte Carroo – 3rd-round (#86 overall)

As if you needed to be reminded of the asinine value Miami gave up to trade up and acquire Leonte Carroo.

The Dolphins figured they were able to uncover a dominant receiver from Rutgers – a school not known to produce much NFL talent (Ray Rice is the most prominent player from that school) – and traded a 3rd, 4th and 6th round pick to move back into the 3rd-round and select Carroo.

I believe a player is worth the cost if you have conviction they’re the person you need, but you better make sure you’re selecting the right talent if you’re giving up more than double the value for the pick you’re acquiring. Carroo never paid off for Miami, and it was a mistake that cost them way too many additional resources. If the rest of the bottom-5 choices weren’t so bad, there’s a good chance Carroo would find himself here simply due to his cost.

When looking back at the Leonte Carroo trade, this quote from Chris Grier in 2016 stood out: “This is a guy who is a targeted player. A highly competitive kid who loves football.”

In fairness to Carroo, he did have 1 more receiving TD in 2018 after Aaron posted this GIF.

Eddie Moore – 2nd-round (#49 overall)

An unfortunate addition due to his health rather than his skill, Eddie Moore wasn’t able to take off with Miami after sustaining a season-ending injury in training camp his rookie season. Moore returned in 2004 and was underwhelming, starting just 3 games (active for 13) and recording 34 tackles with 1 tackle for a loss. An additional season-ending injury in 2005 spelled the end of Moore’s career, as the Tennessee linebacker never played another down in the NFL.

In the midst of having one of the best defenses of the early 21st-century (featuring Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, among other greats), a 2nd-round pick in the middle of the field could have elevated that defense to another level.

Dallas Thomas (2013) / Michael Egnew (2012) / Patrick Turner (2009) / Derek Hagan (2006) / Ben Kelly (2000)

A group of failed 3rd-round picks for Miami.

None of them cost the Dolphins more than the team’s 3rd-round pick in each respective season, so it’s hard to say that any of them deserve to be named in the Top-5. That said, each of these players were a detriment to the Dolphins during their tenure, requiring the team to use additional draft capital or spend on free agents to replace the mistake of drafting them.

  • Dallas Thomas was the poster boy to one of the worst offensive lines in Miami Dolphins history.
  • Michael Egnew was so out of place in the NFL, he was easily surpassed by the emergence of Charles Clay and the instant depth/production Dion Sims provided after being drafted in 2013.
  • Patrick Turner was outplayed by the receiver drafted one round after him (Brian Hartline) and just about everyone else on the team that training camp, leading to him being active for only 2 games and released the following offseason.
  • Derek Hagan was the sole surviving wide receiver after 2007 when Marty Booker was released, Chris Chambers was traded and Wes Welker was dealt the prior offseason
    • In 2008, your starting WRs were Ted Ginn Jr, Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo.
  • Ben Kelly was drafted as a defensive back and was active for 4 games over the span of two seasons…as a kick returner.

1) Jonathan Martin – 2nd-round (#42 overall)

There is just so much that encompasses this draft pick.

I don’t want this to seem like we’re make light of or poking fun at mental health issues, because that’s the last thing we want to infer, but everything about this draft pick was wrong – and it started before Miami even selected Andrew Luck‘s left tackle out of Stanford.

Jonathan Martin came into the NFL draft as some kind of black sheep on the offensive line. Extremely productive in college, the Dolphins thought they were able to draft their future right tackle to lineup alongside Jake Long.

The perfect example of a college player who isn’t built to be the best professional athlete, Martin was able to complete just 20 reps on the bench press during his Stanford Pro Day; an extremely low number for an offensive lineman. For comparisons sake, Jarvis Landry completed 12 bench press reps during his combine measurements.

However, his inconsistent/nonexistent production isn’t the reason Jonathan Martin is #1 on our list.

Martin is more famously known for the embarrassing “bullying scandal” that saw multiple people lose their jobs, multiple players leave the team, and the only remaining survivor being one of the main conspirators behind the bullying and one of Aaron Hernandez‘s best friends in college, Mike Pouncey.

In fitting Dolphins fashion, the team thought so highly of Pouncey that they subsequently named him team captain.

At this point, Jake Long has broken down, Miami has lost a really good left guard in Richie Incognito, their 2nd-round pick from 2012 is not only a bust, but a deterrent to the entire locker room, and the team is receiving the most attention it has since Marino retired.

Though the blame can be placed on Jeff Ireland‘s shoulders for drafting Martin, it’s hard to foresee Martin breaking down and causing such a ripple effect throughout the organization. Though we hope Martin is receiving the help he needs after threatening Richie Incognito, his former high school and others on Instagram last year, as Miami Dolphins fans, we’re still waiting to recover from an episode that has exasperated our offensive line ineptitude, and cemented the public’s perception of this organization as an embarrassment rather than a success.

Now that you’re done bringing all of this misery on to yourself, lighten up the mood as we head into the NFL draft and check out our top-5 best draft picks of the 21st-century here.

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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