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Repercussions and Benefits to Drafting a QB in Both 2019 & 2020

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest conundrum and worst-kept secret engulfing the entire Miami Dolphins franchise is the quarterback position.

Yes, they did sign Paul Bunyan’s doppelganger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, to be the team’s “starting quarterback” in 2019, but I don’t think there are too many fans thrilled with this signing as it correlates to the overall success of the franchise.

2019 was destined to be arduous, frustrating and outright boring, so at least we know we’ll have 17 weeks of entertainment courtesy of the smartest man (Harvard graduate) to play start for so many NFL football teams (8 and counting).

And while Fitzpatrick could be Thormund Giantsbane’s stunt double in Game of Thrones, what does the future hold for Miami?

Some of us want the Dolphins to select one of the 4-6 potential 1st-round quarterbacks in this upcoming draft so we can get a head start on rebuilding our franchise. We’ve passed on a starting quarterback all these other years, and we’ve seen a productive starter come from the 1st round in virtually every recent NFL draft (all except 2013, where E.J Manual was the best QB and Mike Glennon was next-best).

By my unscientific calculation, I’d say most fans want the Dolphins to grab their quarterback in the 1st-round of the 2020 NFL draft – where there are at least 3 QBs projected to be better professional players than any QB coming out of the 2019 draft.

Miami has wasted 19 seasons since Dan Marino retired; what’s another wasted year if it means we finally end the quarterback drought?

What most fans don’t want the Dolphins to do is invest a 1st-round pick on a quarterback in 2019 and then again in 2020. Why “waste” a 1st-round pick – such a desired asset – when you can draft an elite & cheap commodity at another position; a prospect that will still benefit the eventual QB you draft to take over your team.

But what if I told you that it’s quite alright if our beloved Miami Dolphins select a quarterback in the 1st-round of the draft in back-to-back years? What if Miami took multiple chances to end the curse that has plagued this franchise longer than some of us have been alive for?

Would the plethora of fans advocating for Miami to not “waste a pick in 2019” be justified? Would the group of fans yearning for the team to get their quarterback in 2019 be validated?

The short answer is: (insert The Rock voice here) it doesn’t matter where Miami drafts their franchise quarterback, just as long as they draft the right player. We won’t know who that right player is until their career begins, so fans won’t be justified until the 2021 draft at the absolute earliest. That said, we’ve gone back the past 10 years and analyzed just how teams have fared the year leading up to them drafting a quarterback in the first round versus the year after their rookie quarterback was drafted.

Let’s just say, there’s no absolute science, but there’s no concrete reason to avoid this conundrum.

The Breakdown

Some fans see drafting a quarterback in the 1st-round of the draft as the “endgame” when it comes to finding a starting quarterback for their team. Draft a quarterback in the 1st-round of 2019, and you’re marrying yourself to that prospect throughout their rookie contract.

While that may be right for players you misdraft like Charles Harris or DeVante Parker, it doesn’t necessarily apply to quarterbacks.

Yes, you do lose a prospect at another position, so you can automatically assume that misdrafting a quarterback is a missed player somewhere else on your roster, but do we all agree that there is only one position on a team’s roster that genuinely matters?

When comparing the two seasons, we wanted to see if teams saw a noticeable gain or drop between the two years. The main purpose? To see just how much the Miami Dolphins screw themselves over in 2020 if they select a quarterback in 2019.

The prevailing thought is that the Miami Dolphins will be out of the running for a QB in 2020 if they draft a QB in 2019. Judging by how teams have fared the past decade, there is no evidence to suggest that the Dolphins will be out on a 2020 quarterback. Especially when you take into account the Dolphins current roster status and talent, I think it’s safe to say that an improvement from 7-9 is very unlikely.

Take a look at the last 10 years and see how kind (or terrible) history was to these franchises:

Note: the draft slot listed is where the team was originally slated to draft – not necessarily where they actually drafted that year (plenty of teams traded up to acquire their quarterback). We wanted to show their original draft slot as that was a better indication of the team’s success between the two years.

Some fun stats to take note of regarding this information:

  • Teams moved an average of 3 draft slots lower the year after they drafted a quarterback in the 1st round (lower meaning they went from #7 overall to #10 as an example)
  • Of the 31 selections, 15 teams (48%) ended up drafting within the top-10 the following year
  • Of the 31 selections, only 12 teams (39%) ended up drafting later than #13 (where Miami is currently slotted to draft in 2019) the year after they drafted their QB in the first round.
    • And of those 31 selections, only 9 (29%) teams ended up picking 20th or later
  • Of the 31 quarterbacks taken, 17 of them (55%) have led their teams to the playoffs
    • With 11 of those 17 (65%) quarterbacks going deeper than the 1st round of the playoffs
    • 5 of those 17 (29%) ended up going to the Super Bowl
  • Of these 31 instances, teams ended up improving their record after they drafted their rookie QB 17 of those times (55%)
    • 11 of the 31 teams (35%) did worse the year after
    • 3 of the 31 teams (10%) ended up with the same record

What can we take away from all of this? There is no scientific evidence to confirm that Miami will select the right quarterback, but it also indicates that Miami wouldn’t be in a “worse spot” in 2020 if they drafted a quarterback in 2019.

Outside of Matthew Stafford in 2009, Cam Newton in 2011, and Andrew Luck in 2012 (all 1st-overall picks), the quarterback classes were pretty stale from 2009-2016. Sure, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow and Teddy Bridgewater led their teams to the playoffs throughout that time, but none of those quarterbacks are necessarily viewed as franchise QBs at this time.

Though with that being said, how many of us would enjoy Jacksonville’s run to the Super Bowl? Or the Tennessee Titans upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs after Mariota caught his own pass? How electric would the fanbase have been watching RGIII and Bridgewater lead Miami to a division title? Even Tim Tebow has been a more-successful quarterback than anyone the Dolphins have had this century.

While the answer isn’t always available, it’s evident there are answers. It’s just a matter of finding a legitimate long term solution and not one of these quarterbacks who bring temporary success.

How should the Dolphins approach this dilemma? Do they make their selection and stick with it or do they finally decide that finding the right quarterback is worth the risk & hassle?

Advocating for a Quarterback in 2019

What do you have to lose?

Outside of the obvious aspect that you do not have a 1st-round talent at another position (a snowball effect that plays into the team’s total cap space when you account for the fact that you have to spend on a roster spot that would have otherwise been filled by elite, cheap talent), there isn’t much the Dolphins can lose by drafting a QB at #13.

Frankly, as long as the quarterback you select isn’t horrendous, you can still flip him for a 3rd or 4th-round pick the following year (see Josh Rosen).

If you get the selection wrong, you may have even enhanced your draft status the following year rather than hurt it; which means you’re in an even better spot to draft your franchise QB in 2020.

Of all the 1st-round QBs that have “failed” over the past decade (to keep it simple in this instance, any QB that didn’t lead their teams to the playoffs “failed”…there are 14 total QBs in this instance), 8 of those teams ended up with a lower draft pick – though that stat is a bit misleading:

  • Between all 14 of those teams that “failed” to pick the right QB, they slid an average of 1.5 draft slots lower
    • 8 of those 14 teams ended up picking in the top-10 the year after they drafted their QB
  • Of those 8 teams that ended up with a lower pick, 3 of them had the #1 overall pick when they drafted their QB – making it pretty easy to “beat” that statistic

Assuming Miami doesn’t trade-up and make the wrong selection, all of their 2020 draft picks will still be available to use in a trade if you want to move up to grab one of the diamonds coming out of the 2020 draft. You’ll even have all of your 2021 draft picks to help make that trade a reality.

Pros:

  • Potential franchise quarterback (this is kind of a big one)
  • Maintain all future draft capital
  • Tank properly for 2020 (if pick is wrong)
    • Given Miami’s current roster and how rookie QBs perform, it’s safe to say Miami would get a better draft pick in 2020 rather than falling further than #13
  • At worst, a really good backup quarterback

Cons:

  • Missing 1st-round talent at another position
  • Hurts cap space if player is released
    • Hurts cap space by requiring team to spend on replacement for position you could have drafted

Advocating for a Quarterback in 2020

You have EVERYTHING to gain.

Sure, 2019 may solve Miami’s quarterback problem, but will it make the Dolphins a contender for years to come? Or are we looking at the potential of overdrafting the next Andy Dalton at #13 and setting ourselves up for continued (albeit, slightly elevated) mediocrity?

There’s a difference between a quarterback and a difference maker, and the 2020 draft class provides the potential for 3 outstanding difference makers to join the fray: Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. By some accounts, even the next-tier of QBs in the 2020 draft (K.J. Costello and Jacob Eason) are better than most of the 2019 QBs coming out.

Even the Miami Dolphins front office recognizes that 2020 is the more-optimal year to set their franchise up for success. With all of these recent trades netting Miami 2020 draft picks, it seems the team is gathering all the ammunition they need to get the quarterback they want at the turn of the decade.

Assuming the Dolphins didn’t trade any 2020 or 2021 draft capital, they will be in a prime position to grab the man they want in 2020.

Trade the farm. Trade valuable assets in 2021 and potentially 2022 if need be. We’re beyond strategically trying to draft our quarterback (no more 2nd-round picks on the Chad Henne‘s, Pat White‘s and John Beck‘s of the world). Take that risk, whatever the risk costs.

  • Of the 20 quarterbacks drafted in the top-10, 11 of them took their team to the playoffs
  • Of the 11 quarterbacks that were drafted in the top-5, 7 of them took their team to the playoffs
    • With Baker Mayfield being one of the quarterbacks who hasn’t (yet)
    • Another is Brandon Weeden, and he was technically selected 22nd overall (the Cleveland Browns originally had the 4th-overall pick in the draft, so the stat is a tad skewed. For your entertainment, after a bunch of maneuvering that spanned multiple seasons, the Browns eventually traded up to select Trent Richardson with the #3 overall selection the same year Weeden was drafted)

While there’s a chance you draft Mark Sanchez, there’s a better chance you draft a playoff-caliber quarterback. Unless Miami is tanking for Trevor Lawrence in 2021, it’s time they identify the risk they want to take and execute accordingly.

Pros:

  • You’ve probably drafted someone equivalent to Eli ManningPhilip Rivers, or Ben Roethlisberger rather than someone like Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder
  • You’ve (hopefully) utilized 2019 to build a better roster around your QB so he isn’t getting sacked 184 times in his first 4 years like Ryan Tannehill did
    • This also coincides with having the ability to field an expensive team that can make a deep run in the playoffs while your quarterback is cheap

Cons:

  • If you get it wrong in 2020, you’ve now wasted 2-3 seasons simply misidentifying the most important position
    • Quite frankly, this would absolutely justify Chris Grier being fired, and you could argue Brian Flores should follow suit

Why Not Both?

So why not take a flyer on a quarterback in back-to-back years? Are you afraid of losing out on one (potentially) really good player for the sake of waiting yet another year to take your risk?

A friendly little reminder of who the Dolphins have drafted in the 1st round since 2008:

  • 2018 (11th-overall): Minkah Fitzpatrick
  • 2017 (22): Charles Harris
  • 2016 (13): Laremy Tunsil
  • 2015 (14): DeVante Parker
  • 2014 (19): Ja’Wuan James
  • 2013 (3): Dion Jordan
  • 2012 (8): Ryan Tannehill
  • 2011 (15): Mike Pouncey
  • 2010 (28): Jared Odrick
  • 2009 (25): Vontae Davis
  • 2008 (1): Jake Long

By drafting a QB at #13, it’s possible you miss out on someone like Laremy Tunsil or Minkah Fitzpatrick, but there’s also a solid chance you’re drafting someone like Parker or Harris.

You may end up with “very good” players like Ja’Wuan James or Mike Pouncey, but would you rather have someone like James or Pouncey, or would you rather take a minimal risk to get this franchise to the point where it can have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-2003?

Pros:

  • Multiple quarterbacks on your roster giving you security or a huge trade chip
  • There is virtually no detriment to your future cap space, given the rookie contracts
  • Unless Miami royally screwed it up, you can exhale and enjoy the next decade of your football fandom knowing the Miami Dolphins have the right player at the right position

Cons:

  • Missing a 1st-round pick at another position

By the way, the last time the Dolphins had a losing season before 2003 was 1988. Before that? 1976. You know why? The team had legitimate franchise quarterbacks.

While there is logic behind waiting until 2020, there isn’t much preventing the team from getting a head start in 2019. Confidence? Stagnating quarterback development? I guess those are a couple of concerns if you give a quarterback competition (at least those were the main reasons for avoiding competition for Ryan Tannehill), but the Miami Dolphins need to identify a player that can lead them to, at the very least, a playoff victory.

At this point, we aren’t necessarily asking for a Super Bowl. Hope would be a good start. Drafting a quarterback in 2019 provides hope. Drafting another quarterback in 2020 virtually guarantees success.

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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