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Minor League Miami Dolphins

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins truly are a pathetic organization. This isn’t about Ja’Wuan James “worth” and if he was paid more than his value dictates. That aspect can be debated thoroughly; but when you finally do come to a conclusion, you realize he wasn’t one of those players that was absurdly “overpaid”.

Regardless, what’s the point of drafting talented players if you aren’t going to retain them?

Do any of you have any hope that your Miami Dolphins are going to re-sign Laremy Tunsil or Xavien Howard? And if you do believe Miami isn’t that stupid and they will actually re-sign them, do you think they’re going to get it right?

There’s a common theme with the Dolphins. They have the ability to identify talent in the draft, but they refrain from trusting their judgement enough to pay them “early”. As if paying someone for their current accomplishments and future performance is too risky for them.

There’s also one common theme with the organization throughout that time. You can say it’s Stephen Ross (though he wasn’t around when Bill Parcells took Jake Long #1 overall), but no, that person is Chris Grier.

I’m not sure what his actual role was this entire time, but it seems to be uncovering “acorns” in the draft and then allowing them to walk away. Did he not have a say in the players he scouted? Did he believe players like Andre Branch and Kiko Alonso were worth more money than Jarvis Landry?

What exactly did we get ourselves into by promoting Chris Grier? Which successful decisions can we attribute towards him and which mistakes can we blame on Mike Tannenbaum or Joe Philbin?

Here are the draft picks Miami has offered extensions to since Stephen Ross became 95% owner of the Miami Dolphins in 2009:

Note: this doesn’t include players who have received a 5th-year option; these are players that have received a brand new, multi-year extension from the Dolphins

  • Brian Hartline
  • Koa Misi
  • Reshad Jones
  • Mike Pouncey
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Walt Aikens
  • Bobby McCain

Here is a (long yet incomplete) list of draft picks that have gotten away since Stephen Ross took over:

  • Jake Long
  • Kendall Langford
  • Vontae Davis
  • Sean Smith
  • Jared Odrick
  • Nolan Carroll
  • Charles Clay
  • Olivier Vernon
  • Lamar Miller
  • Rishard Matthews
  • Dion Jordan
  • Jamar Taylor
  • Dion Sims
  • Mike Gillislee
  • Caleb Sturgis
  • Jelani Jenkins
  • Ja’Wuan James
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Jay Ajayi

This list doesn’t include (every) draft “bust” like Jordan Phillips or DeVante Parker. Nor does it include undrafted free agents (like Cameron Wake), but even if we did, it’s fairly obvious which list is more alarming that the other.

We can blame Bill Parcells, we can blame Jeff Ireland, and we can blame Mike Tannenbaum, but there’s one underlying constant and that’s the current GM of this football team.

Now that he has his opportunity, we watch a franchise right tackle walk away, even though he could have been retained a year or two ago for a price you actually would have wanted.

We might watch a cornerback get traded or walk away next season because Miami is too scared to pay him one year “too early”.

It’s possible we watch the best emerging left tackle in the game walk away in two years because his price skyrockets far above anything the team expected.

Look at all of the “stupid money” floating around in free agency this offseason.

  • Trey Flowers for over $80m
  • C.J. Mosley for $85m
  • Landon Collins for $84m
  • Nick Foles for $88m!
  • Tyrann Mathieu for $42m
  • Justin Coleman for $36m
  • Jamison Crowder for $28.5m

Now look at what Trent Brown – a converted offensive guard that had one successful season at left tackle – made with the Oakland Raiders: 4-yr, $66m ($36.75m guaranteed).

If you say “who” to anyone on this list, it only further exasperates the point. Other than Flowers, Mosley and Collins, who are all very good players, the rest of the free agents are nowhere near the caliber of player Laremy Tunsil or Xavien Howard are.

If you think Laremy Tunsil is going to sign for anything close to what Brown just made you are most certainly mistaken. Again, this isn’t about if the money is “stupid” or not, it’s taking into account the current market, mixed with the influx of available cash/cap, paired with an increasing cap each year – which means Laremy Tunsil is going to cost far more than any left tackle is making currently. Especially if you decide to wait two more years.

The Dolphins might be sacrificing current cap space if they sign these players early, but they’re saving themselves future cap space. Foresight….it’s a crazy concept.

The main reason the Dolphins can’t afford to spend early on their draft picks is because they’re always putting themselves in cap hell with the horrendous free agents they sign. Extending Reshad Jones, Mike Pouncey, Ryan Tannehill and signing players like Ndamukong Suh and Mike Wallace forces you to a tight cap space which means you can’t allocate extra money to players that actually deserve it.

So now that you can take all of the players the Dolphins have released and pit them against the current Dolphins roster and win, I’d say Chris Grier has a lot on his plate.

Is he going to let Tunsil, Howard and eventually players like Kenyan Drake and Minkah Fitzpatrick just walk away (or traded for pennies on the dollar)? Then you have a building case for why Grier shouldn’t be running this team, and why it’s probably more-likely that he’s a spy for the New England Patriots than a productive general manager for the Miami Dolphins. Maybe he can manage that 33rd NFL team he’s sending all of these draft “finds” to each offseason.

While we should all be cheering the fact that the Miami Dolphins haven’t unnecessarily splurged on players “just cause”, we have to wonder why it gets to the point where Miami either overpays or has to be honored for not overpaying.

Because seriously, this year’s free agency victory was “Miami didn’t do something stupid!”

How do we change that narrative? Is it with Chris Grier as the general manager? Right now, I’m not so sure about that one….

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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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kevin Chapman

    March 12, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Keep it positive bro-seph.
    Hang in there, the climate change is in full swing!

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 12, 2019 at 1:03 pm

      That change is definitely coming, Kevin! Glad to see this team hold off on splurging for the FA. Now if only they begin to sign their own top players before they become too expensive. Fingers crossed that comes with the climate change as well

  2. Avatar

    Mojo

    March 12, 2019 at 10:04 am

    “Franchise Right Tackle”? Is there such a thing? If there is it certainly isn’t James. James is an average right tackle getting paid elite money. I’m overjoyed they let him walk at that price. He will be easily replaced. And we will get a compensatory pick in 2020.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 12, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      Right tackle certainly isn’t on the same level as LT, CB, QB or even DEs, but James could have been your right tackle for an extended period of time.

      The compensatory pick will be very nice for Miami, that’s true. Just wish they took the risk and signed him earlier in his career rather than waiting until his value ballooned higher than his worth.

      Then again, hard to predict that when he was coming off of a year in which he played in only 8 games.

  3. Avatar

    Herb

    March 12, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    It’s fair to critique the Dolphins for how they handled their draft picks in recent years, but you can’t fault this individual decision based on where they were entering free agency. This was the smart move given where this team. (cough: they don’t have a QB if you think tannehill is getting cut.) I feel like somehow James has improved exponentially over the last few months, as there was not this kind of fire about his play at Week 17.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 12, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      This FA period certainly hyped up James more than his play was warranting at season’s end. That said, I still believe he was a good RT for us. My biggest complaint with this move is that Miami had the ability to re-sign James going into 2018 and held back due to the uncertainty he provided (which, can’t deny, was there coming into 2018 with his injury history). If they would have taken the risk it’s possible they have James at a 4-yr/$36m deal ($9 per year) rather than paying the 5th-year option at around that price and now losing him to Denver. It will require additional assets (spending $ on lesser talent or using a draft pick) just to replace him.

      Wonder if Jesse Davis is their answer.

      Can’t fault them for letting James go on that contract, just wish they would have nabbed him a littler earlier.

  4. Avatar

    Ken Booker

    March 12, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    I know how you feel. Been a fin fan for over 46 years. They were the only sports team in Fl. I love my fins, but the team has been run badly since Shula was run out of town. But i could never turn my back on them. I pray to holy God that this team can turn it around before i friggin die.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      It’s been some dark times – if only I was able to experience those prime Shula and/or Marino years. They will eventually turn it around, and it’ll feel very sweet when they do. Hopefully that comes sooner rather than later.

  5. Avatar

    Marchcool

    March 12, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    The Dolphins are indeed pathetic since S. Ross became the owner. All the miscues you mentioned on extending contracts are the fault of the stupid FO. They overpay millions to players like M. Wallace, but let go players like Landry, Vernon, Miller, etc etc.
    No hope that this team can regain the excellency that once enjoyed as far as this moronic and dilettante owner remains in the (dis)organization…sadly for us the faithful and all-time Dolphins fans.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      Have to like that Ross is always willing to spend, but it took him awhile to acclimate to being an NFL owner (if he’s even there at all) and in that time the Front Office has built this team terribly. Have to just hope that they turn it around this time.

  6. Avatar

    Miamimanman

    March 12, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    While I totally understand your frustration with past FO’s letting some in house talent walk, I see this as Grier/Flores and Co. trying to bring a bit of the Patriot way down south via the compensatory draft pick model.

    If Miami hones in on some low tier free agents, and especially dudes who’ve been cut (since they won’t count against the comp. pick formula), we can net a 3rd and a 5th potentially. We’ll survive the loss of James, although it would have been nice if we signed him a year ago at a slight discount.

    I just messed around with Spotracs salary calculator for 2020, and with a bit of tinkering its not out of the realm of possibility that we can have over 100 mill in cap space by then as well. Plenty of funds to bring back X, Tunsil and even Drake if he excels this year.

    Now if Grier decides to let X walk, then I’ll be a pissed as well. If we hit on a second CB this draft we can have Surtain/Madison 2.0 (or 3.0 depending on if you count Smith and Vontae lol).

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      I agree and do believe that this team is setting their cap up nicely for 2020 (have a piece coming out on that in the future). Between Grier getting his own grip on the show and with the input of Flores and the rest of the Patriots staff (along with Jim Caldwell and other experienced coaches coming over), Miami may finally be building it right.

      Hopefully this regime learned from past mistakes and don’t let Tunsil or Howard out the door. Would absolutely love that shutdown tandem at corner (especially with Fitzpatrick back there as a safety or in the slot)

  7. Avatar

    Jhary

    March 12, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    So let me get this straight…PFF ranks James tied for 34th in the NFL…there’s only 32 teams in the league, which puts James in the bottom half of the league…and the Ponies just made him the highest paid RT in the league??? So in a contract year, James busts his butt to be the very best he could be, and average was the very best he could achieve…and that’s worth $13 mil a year??? Denver paid him TWICE what he was actually worth…and now that James got the big bucks, do you REALLY think he’s going to bust his butt to get any better??? If I was a gambling man, I’d wager good money Denver cuts him in 2 years when they realize just how much they over-paid his average at best butt.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      There are a few things that irk me with James walking. Is he “overpaid”? Yes. That’s not the kind of money I want to pay James. But, if we are looking to build around a young quarterback this year or next year you’re going to want to protect him. By letting James go, you now have to spend $ on lesser talent or use a valuable draft pick on a replacement (or find a replacement lower in the draft, but Miami hasn’t been able to uncover that in the past – with Grier as director of college scouting or “general manager”).

      If Miami looked into extending him last year, coming off of a season in which he only played in 8 games, they could have had him for $8-$9m/year. It’s risky, of course, but it’s the kind of risks Miami takes and seems to get wrong (Hartline, Tannehill, Jones, etc).

      James may have been ranked 34th, but it’s something to take with a grain of salt. Todd Gurley is the 18th-ranked RB and I’d rather have him over anyone except Barkley, Zeke or maybe Chubb (contract plays a huge part). I do think James is a very good RT – good enough that he isn’t necessarily elite, but you don’t have to worry about him.

  8. Avatar

    PapaPickett

    March 12, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    This is a severe overeaction. I dont know why your acting like his performance was something that was worth what he was paid. Juwuan James is not an impact player. He is simply replaceable yet is now the highest paid RT in the NFL. His work in the run game was also atrocious every single year he was in the league.

    Alot of the players you mentioned that we let go made sense to let go of, but lets just focus on James. If we sign James to anything near what he was offered, he continues to be mediocre while costing top dollar, which restricts our ability to resign key difference makers like Howard and Tunsil.

    Your arguement goes against your own logic. James is not a great player. He was above average to average and will not see the end of his contract. See Olivier Vernon/Jarvis Landry. In the mean time we can pay real play makers.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 13, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Depends which playmakers we’re deciding to pay? We didn’t extend guys like Vernon or Landry early because we were too busy extended Branch or Kiko or reworking Tannehill or Suh’s contracts because we needed the cap space.

      It’s the poor overall cap management and the inability to retain/extend the right players is what gets me. Although James is not worth the money he received, he could have been retained for $8-9m/year if the team jumped on signing him early (coming off of a season in which he only played 8 games). Now, Miami needs to spend $ on lesser talent or spend draft picks on his replacement.

      As for others, it’s safe to say there are a bunch that didn’t/won’t “earn” the contracts they received; it’s just that Miami never finds a way to retain them. If you sign Olivier Vernon a year early you don’t extend Andre Branch, spend a 1st-round pick on Charles Harris, and then send a draft pick to eventually use the same amount of cap space on Robert Quinn….that’s the repercussions of letting good players walk.

      Miami replaced Jarvis Landry with Albert Wilson and they were only able to get 7 games from him and who knows if he’ll be the same player last year.

      Miami spent 2nd and 3rd round picks on Jamar Taylor and Will Davis to try and replace Vontae Davis and Sean Smith and they weren’t all that great. Then Miami sends Taylor to Cleveland and he becomes a viable starter (at worst, a really good depth player).

      Why does Miami constantly extend the wrong players?

  9. Avatar

    Mike

    March 13, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    The future is here! Can anyone say 3-13 or 3-12 for the next dozen or so years? A good season is going to be 7 or 8 wins. The Dolphins front office has made some big mistakes over the years, by not signing players early enough, spending too much on free agents and making just plain stupid mistakes. Top all of these moves off with the amazing incredible and completely moronic idea of signing a coach that has NEVER been a coordinator and guaranteeing his contract for 5 years! That is the ultimate in stupid decisions. And hiring a guy from the Cheatriots makes it even worse.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Guide – Safeties

Travis Wingfield

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Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Interior
Defensive Edge
Linebackers
Cornerbacks
Safeties
Specialists – 7/24

Game-By-Game Predictions Part 1 – 7/24 (Part 2 coming in September)

Prologue:

For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.

That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.

Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.

Safeties

Overview:

Cross-training promises to serve as the buzz phrase of this rendition of Dolphins camp. No position offers more dual functionality than safety, especially in a defense undergoing sweeping schematic changes.

In the past, the safety spots have been directionally based, opposed to the traditional strong and free distinctions. This round-peg-in-a-square-hole philosophy led to frustration; so much so that Miami’s longest-tenured defensive player pulled himself from a game last November.

Now, these safeties will have specific roles designated to suit their respective strengths. The universal trait of the group will be the ability to come down and cover the slot, tight ends, and running backs.

Tony Oden is one of two holdovers from the previous staff. Oden has been coaching defensive backs since 1996, including a GA stop at Brian Flores’ alma mater Boston College.

Reshad Jones – 9 years of service (10th in MIA)
Jersey: 20
College: Georgia
Opening Day Age: 31.5
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $35M total, $13M guaranteed

Jones’ Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Jones’ absence was the story of voluntary organized team activities. Amidst rampant trade rumors, Jones was present for mandatory work and an understanding has, apparently, been achieved between he and Coach Flores.

Jones is still a punishing hitter that excels defending both the strong and weak-side C-gaps on the defense. This scheme will put him back in a familiar situation playing in close to the line-of-scrimmage and sending him on a variety of run and pass blitzes. Jones played single-high, 20 yards off the ball, far too often last season.

Declining coverage ability, the occasional poor angle, and considerable medical concerns all add up to an uncertain future for Jones in Miami. The age and contract aren’t doing Jones’ long-term prospects any favors either.

2019 Projected Role: Strong Safety, 100% snap-taker

Bobby McCain – 4 years of service (5th in MIA)
Jersey: 28
College: Memphis
Opening Day Age: 26.0
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $22M total, $9M guaranteed

McCain’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

After a stellar 2017 season, injuries and position changes led to a down year for McCain. Among the game’s best slot corners two years ago, McCain was rewarded with a new contract, but he was outplayed in the slot by 2018 rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick. In 2019, the two could be interchangeable working in slot coverage and as a single-high safety (as well as two-deep looks).

This scheme utilizes three safeties the majority of the defense’s snaps. McCain could serve as the middle of the field man in those three-safety packages, and come down in two-slot looks for man-coverage responsibilities.

McCain is a terrific leader, astute tackler, and an occasionally effective blitzer.

2019 Projected Role: Free Safety, Slot Corner 85% snap-taker

T.J. McDonald – 6 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 22
College: USC
Opening Day Age: 28.4
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $17M total, $3.6M guaranteed

With one more year of guaranteed salary, McDonald needs to successfully transition into a new role to have a future in Miami. Inexplicably taking the job previously manned by Reshad Jones, McDonald’s inclusion into the defense wasn’t a positive one.

No longer among the top four, or even five, defensive backs on the roster, McDonald will come onto the field in sub-packages. He’s effective working downhill and should provide Miami’s dime package with a quality tackler and sound cover-man in the underneath shell.

2019 Projected Role: Third Safety, Dime Linebacker (Dollar) 60% snap-taker

Maurice Smith – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 26
College: Georgia
Opening Day Age: 24.3
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed

It’s difficult to assess Smith’s value the last couple of years. He rarely made it onto the field, but that could just be another indictment of incompetent coaching. At his best, Smith plays the robber role, dislodges footballs, and steps in front of intermediate passes.

With 10 players acquired in the secondary since Smith arrived in Miami, he has an uphill battle to fend off the newcomers for a job.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

2019 Dolphins Safeties at a Glance:

The decision to forego any acquisitions at safety this offseason was surprising. The most important position in the defense, Miami comes up a couple of bodies short unless McCain’s conversion is a success. He’s a bit undersized for the position, but he offers the instincts, tackling, and ball skills to provide some promise.

Jones’ role, and subsequent impact on the defense, is one of the more intriguing storylines of the year for the Dolphins.

With a lot of questions and fewer solutions, this group could be in for more changes next offseason.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins sign cornerback Tyler Patmon

Shawn Digity

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Tyler Patmon Miami Dolphins USA Today Sports
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

The Miami Dolphins have filled out the final roster spot by signing a familiar face: Tyler Patmon

After a Sunday night visit on July 21st, the Dolphins have officially signed cornerback Tyler Patmon. The corner was with the team during the 2015 season but failed to leave his mark during his first stint with the team.

Tyler Patmon has, however, managed to keep his career chugging along with time spent in Dallas in 2014 and 2015 and Jacksonville in 2017 and 2018.

The news was broken on Twitter by the official DEC Management account, who represents Patmon.

The team makes reference to Patmon’s first attempt with the team, but this time should be a better fit for Patmon considering the team’s roster makeup. With a few more years of experience under his belt, Patmon stands a better chance of getting a foothold and making an impact.

Tyler Patmon is also a special signing because of his being the 91st player under contract. The Dolphins have found some value in signing a player internationally, which has allowed them the ability to sign Patmon as a bonus player.

I can’t say for certain if Patmon will ultimately end up on the final 53-man roster. My initial inclination is that it’ll be an uphill battle, but stranger things have happened. He might be able to step in and make some waves with the experience he has over some of the younger defensive backs.

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Miami Dolphins

Remember The Dolphins (Part 3: The 2010s)

Chris Kowalewski

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True. The final chapter of the Dolphins’ current decade has not yet been written.

At the dawn of the 2019 training camp, the stars of Miami’s 2019 Super Bowl Champion team have not yet emerged and had their names stamped into the NFL history books.

But going by on the widely-held assumption that the Miami Dolphins figure to be at the very bottom of the league in 2019, we’ll draw a line under the decade of the 2010’s as the Dolphins begin their ‘hard’ reboot to bring the franchise back to glory.

In this third part of our Remember The Dolphins series, we’ll trudge up some painful recent memories by taking a look back at the years 2010-2018 and try to pick out those individuals who perhaps deserve some more recognition for the part they played despite the team’s overall lack of success.

For the Miami Dolphins, the 2010’s was a decade filled with unfortunate drama. The Jonathan Martin bullying fiasco; Richie Incognito; the resulting ever-changing revolving doors which built the offensive line; Mike Pouncey’s “Free Hernandez” hat; Dion Jordan; overpaid Free Agents; terrible draft picks; Chris Foerster bringing his out-of-office habits into the team facility; Brent Grime’s wife; a queezy, litter-picking coach; Vontae Davis’ grandma; the “Go” and Go, Go” offense; Matt Burke’s incomprehensible defensive scheme; and last but by no means least, Adam Gase. 

It was not exactly a fun-packed decade for fans.

From one year to the next, the 2010’s barraged the Dolphins with national embarrassment off the field and an on-field product which no one could quite figure out.

The 2010’s undoubtedly will be most remembered, for better or worse (depending on which side you sit) for the Ryan Tannehill years. 

Landing in the NFL as a franchise’s heralded saviour is generally tough enough. But landing in a city already drowning in football mediocrity, with a fanbase tired of the lacklustre QB carousel and desperately thirsty for a leading passer under the scorching South Florida sunshine was inevitably going to be a recipe for division among fans. 

Add in the ever-present shadow of Dan Marino and the unforeseen successes of other young QBs around the league and anything less than spectacular would be deemed a failure.

And that is the past decade of Dolphins in a nutshell… 

Unspectacular. 

Inconsistent.

Divided.

Cameron Wake was nothing short of awesome as the team’s premier defensive player and remains a living legend, seemingly ready to finish his career in Tennessee. It’s scary to think that Wake spent 10 years with the Dolphins (2009-2018) in which he started 126/146 games, accumulated 98.0 sacks, 358 combined tackles, 97 tackles for loss and 213 QB hits. As Dolfans, we have just witnessed the end of the most successful Dolphins tale of the decade. But that alone was not enough to gain the team anything more than one playoff game.

Save for a handful of highlight performances in 2016 to drag Miami to the playoffs, including Jay Ajayi’s back-to-back 200 yard games and Andrew Franks’ overtime field goal over the Bills on Christmas Eve, the Dolphins continued their desperate struggle for success for another decade.

2010 started badly for Head Coach Tony Sparano, then entering his 3rd year. Chad Henne (301 of 490) threw for 3301 yards, 15 TDs and 19 INTs. The Dolphins had broken the bank to bring in WR, Brandon Marshall to help in Henne’s development and aid a struggling offense. Although Marshall hauled in 1014 yards, a lowly 3 TDs was the ultimate result. The Dolphins found themselves sitting at 30th in the league in points scored and achieved a 7-9 record.

Things didn’t exactly improve quickly, if at all.

2011 saw the firing of Coach Sparano who was temporarily replaced by defensive co-ordinator, Todd Bowles after a 4-9 start to finish 6-10.

2012 saw the arrival of Joe Philbin and rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill which produced a now-familiar 7-9 record. The QB/HC relationship lasted 3.5 years and left everyone a “little queezy”.

The Dolphins scraped .500 records in 2013 and 2014 before falling to 6-10 in 2015 under the final year of Philbin’s reign. 

Nothing of note had begun to shine out from the shadows of mediocrity and the patience of Miami fans was beyond tested. 

Enter, Adam Gase.

The Peyton-Manning-endorsed offensive ‘genius’ arrived in 2016 taking the Dolphins to the playoffs despite a season-ending knee injury to the starting QB. And whilst the victories of 2016 weren’t repeated, the rare taste of playoffs had bought Gase enough stature that even the team’s brightest stars weren’t safe from his methods and relationships continued to sour to the point of breaking and eventual trade.

Jarvis Landry had stolen headlines with some highlight-reel catches and was unanimously adored by the Dolphins fanbase. Jay Ajayi had bulldozed his way into the history books before his relationship with the head coach turned to ash. Both players were quickly gone, uncerimoniously – their departures embodying the Dolphins’ constant inability of retaining success.

A number of players publicly spoke out against Adam Gase, as prime examples of what the Dolphins had become at their core – divided, unstable and without direction.

But looking back over the dysfunction of the 2010’s, let’s try to pick a handful of names out of the rubble who (outside of the Miami Miracle) deserve to be looked at in a brighter, warmer light and be remembered despite the team’s on-field and off-field failures.

Reggie Bush

Position: Running Back

The Saints’ 2nd overall pick of the 2006 draft found his way to Miami in his 6th year, following a trade with the Saints in July 2011. That season, he provided a spark of electricity to Miami’s offense and rushed for 1000+ yards for the first time in his career and scored 6 rushing TDs with an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Bush remained with the Dolphins for 2 years (2011-2012) and despite having been labelled as injury prone during his time in New Orleans, managed to be a dependable on-field presence, rushing for 2072 yards and 12 TDs as a Dolphin, whilst hauling in a further 588 receiving yards and 3 TDs. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of The Week in 2011 following a 203 yard performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15.

Lamar Miller

Position: Running Back

The homegrown running back was drafted in the fourth round by the Dolphins in 2012 out of the University of Miami, sharing his rookie year with Reggie Bush. By his second season, Miller had adopted the starting role, but it wasn’t until 2014 when he really began to find his feet out of the Dolphins’ backfield. Miller’s totals of 1099 rushing yards and 8 TDs in 2014 remain his career highs, with a highlight 97 yard TD run against the Jets on 28 December 2014. Over the course of his 4 years in Miami, Miller started 48/61 games and rushed for 2930 yards and 19 TDs whilst catching 117 passes for 887 yards and a further 3 scores, before signing a 4-year $26m deal with the Houston Texans in March 2016. 

Karlos Dansby

Position: Linebacker

Karlos Dansby came to Miami in 2010 after 6 years in the league with the Arizona Cardinals. His final 2 years in Arizona saw him tally 228 combined tackles including 17 for a loss, 5 sacks, 3 INTs and 3 forced fumbles. He was therefore a big-name target for the Dolphins in 2010 to help solidify the linebacker group under Tony Sparano. Dansby joined the Dolphins on a 5-year, $43m contract which (at the time) was the highest paid contract for an ILB in NFL history. In his 3 years at Miami, Dansby started 45/46 games and racked up 332 combined tackles, 1 INT, 5 forced fumbles and 6 sacks. 

Paul Soliai

Position: Defensive Tackle

An absolute man-mountain, Paul Soliai was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He became a staple on Miami’s defensive line and spent 7 years in Miami (2007-2013), working his way to a full-time starting spot in 2010. Soliai started 62 of 99 games in his Dolphins career and had a knack for swatting down passes with 12 deflections. A huge body in the middle of the Dolphins defense, Soliai was predominantly a space-eater but also racked up 117 solo tackles (160 combined) including 25 TFLs and 4.5 sacks. He signed with the Falcons in March 2014 and the Panthers in March 2016 before signed a one-day contract to retire as a Miami Dolphin on 19 April 2018.

Brian Hartline

Position: Wide Receiver

A productive fourth round pick of the Dolphins in 2009, Hartline spent 6 years in Miami (2009-2014). Hartline’s best years came in 2012/2013 following the arrival of Ryan Tannehill and he developed into something of a trusted safety blanket for the young QB and set a Dolphins franchise record for receiving yards (253) in Week 4 of 2012 against the Cardinals. With over 130 targets in each of those years, Hartline caught 150 passes for 2099 yards, but only 5 TDs which is an indication of the team’s lack of productivity in the red zone. Injured early in his career, Hartline started 69 of 92 games in Miami hauling in 4243 yards and 12 TDs with a catch rate of 57.1% and 8.1 yards per target. In the final game of 2014, Hartline suffered a PCL injury which ended his tenure at the Dolphins and a quick year in Cleveland saw the end of Hartline’s NFL career and he is now WR coach at Ohio State.

Davone Bess

Position: Wide Receiver

Similar to Hartline (and more recently Jarvis Landry) Davone Bess spent his first NFL years with the Dolphins before being signed by the Cleveland Browns. Arriving with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Hawaii, Bess quickly exceeded expectations. He was primarily positioned at slot receiver until injury forced Greg Camarillo off the field. Bess finished his rookie year positioned 3rd amongst rookie WRs in receptions. During his time as a Dolphin, Bess hauled in 12 TDs and had dependable hands (63.8% catch ratio) with a 6.9 yards-per-target average and he amassed a total of 3447 yards receiving. Bess was traded to the Cleveland Browns in April 2013 before troubling issues saw him placed on the non-football illness list in December 2013 prior to a series of arrests.

Kevin Burnett

Position: Linebacker

After 4 years in Dallas and 2 years in San Diego, Kevin Burnett signed as a Miami Dolphin in July 2011. He started all 32 games at linebacker during his 2 years with Miami (2011-2012) and stole 1 Pick-6, had 5 sacks with 216 combined tackles and 15 TFLs. Although always the truest of professionals, the productive and dependable player was released following the mistake-riddled free agent signings of Darnell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler in March 2013.

Jared Odrick

Position: Defensive End

I liked Jared Odrick. Generally considered a surprising first round pick (28th overall) of the Miami Dolphins in 2010, he unfortunately suffered a foot injury in October 2010 cutting short his rookie season. Returning with a strong 2011 season, he registered 6 sacks and and an INT as a backup DE and didn’t take himself too seriously, evidence by his very odd Pee Wee Herman sack dance. Odrick spent 5 years in Miami (2010-2014) but suffered with injuries and started only 41 of 65 games. Alongside his INT, Odrick swatted down 11 passes and caused 3 forced fumbles, had 16.5 sacks and 129 combined tackles including 30 for a loss and 47 QB hits. Following his Dolphins career, Odrick spent 2 years in Jacksonville before his retirement after being placed on IR in December 2016.

Nolan Carroll

Position: Cornerback

A fifth round pick (145th overall) by the Dolphins in the 2010, Carroll was seen as a promising rookie and played a considerable amount on special teams. Fans will recall that during a kickoff return on 13 December 2010, Carroll was tripped over on the sidelines by the Jets’ strength and conditioning coach, Sal Alosi. Carroll was promoted to a starting role in 2012 and over the course of his 4 years in Miami he started 26 of 58 games, grabbed 5 INTs with 23 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 3 sacks. He racked up 123 combined tackles before signing a 2-year $5m contract with the Eagles in March 2014. 

And there we have it.

At the dawn of the 2019 season, with the imminent start of training camp, the Dolphins now have an opportunity to write the decade’s final chapter.

Under the leadership of Head Coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins seek to change the story of their long-term mediocrity. With a young group of talented players ripe for development, we can only hope that many of them will seek to etch their names into the future of Dolphins’ history from 2020 and beyond.

Fins Up.

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