When he woke up Monday morning Chris Grier was the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins. With the exact details of his responsibilities shrouded by the presence of an Executive VP, Grier likely didn’t know the potential wreckage he was driving into on his Monday commute.
Unexpected to most, Stephen Ross acted swiftly. Reports of Adam Gase’s dismissal became public knowledge around 10 A.M. EST. Still, a cloud of mystery hovered about the next moves this once proud organization would enact in the coming days.
Or, in this case, the coming hours.
Ross took to the podium with Chris Grier. The announcement was made that the former General Manager would take a promotion up to the head of all football operations.
The man whose job Grier takes over, Mike Tannenbaum, has been re-assigned to a non-football working role within the organization. Essentially, he’s Jack Barker from Silicon Valley. Or Milton from Office Space – whichever you prefer, probably age-dependent.
Grier sat alongside Ross as the pair answered questions regarding Miami’s vision and plan going forward. Ross, visibly weary, announced his intentions to be a hands-off owner. Entrusting everything on the football side to a scout that rose up through the ranks within the organization.
“When you talk to people in the NFL, he’s one of the most respected people in the league. He’s been here a long time and he’s earned the respect of everyone in the organization. I’m confident that I already have the best person for this job.”
Ross’ glowing review of Grier isn’t unique.
Grier, the son of former Patriots Executive Bobby Grier, has worked alongside some of the more illustrious names in NFL lore.
Beginning as an intern in 1994, Grier was promoted to a position as a regional scout from 1995-1995. Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll were each able to call Grier a colleague during his tenure with the Patriots.
Grier would migrate south to Miami for eight years (2000-2007). Then when his former boss, Bill Parcells, signed on with Miami, Parcells made Grier the director of college scouting.
With Parcells leaving the franchise three years into his contract, Grier remained in the same role through the 2015 season.
After being named General Manager in 2016, Grier is now in the same chair previously occupied by Tannenbaum and Parcells before him.
Walking down Grier’s memory lane serves a purpose. Grier, himself, addressed the media today to talk about his vision moving forward.
“I’m not [going to] just throw it out there for you guys, but look at who I started with,” Grier said about his roster building philosophy. “Parcells, Carroll, Belichick, Saban a lot of those guys influenced me and I still talk to them.”
As a fly on the wall during the Saban, Cameron, Sparano, Philbin and Gase eras, Grier has seen it all. And the breadcrumbs of those mentors brings his philosophy largely to one area.
Seeing the failures of previously renowned offensive guru Adam Gase (and may as well toss the milquetoast Joe Philbin into that pairing), Grier figures to turn back to his roots. Parcells defines the old school while Saban, Belichick and Carroll’s programs are featured defensive stalwarts.
Miami has made quick work of identifying a list of coaching interviews to conduct over the coming days and weeks. Before we uncover those candidates, a few more quotes from the 12-minute presser from Monday.
Stephen Ross [paraphrasing]:
– The decision to move on from Adam [Gase] was made last night (Sunday).
– Today, we are no further than when I bought the team. We have a good young roster and attacked the remaining issues with some older free agents and a few draft picks. But to continue to operate under that practice would be the definition of insanity. We’ve done the same things over and over since I’ve been here and it lands us in that 6-10 to 10-6 range – that’s not good enough. It’s time for the organization to take a different approach.
– Tom Garfinkel has done a terrific job with making the game day experience great for the fans. With that, and the stadium renovations, we’re proud of that, but we aren’t proud of what we’ve done on the football field.
– We want to build a sustainable winner. Even if it takes some time, we’re going to look to build this thing the right way.
– Chris Grier is more qualified to do this job than anyone we could’ve found. He will have total responsibility, make all the football decisions and report to me. The Head Coach will report to Chris.
Chris Grier [paraphrasing]:
– It’s important to have an aligned vision with the Head Coach. I’m not going to be rigid in my views and dismiss new ideas, but we need to have the same vision.
– It’s about knowing who we want to be and staying with that vision and building this thing the right way.
– The process begins immediately, as soon as we’re done with this press conference.
The term immediately shouldn’t have been taken lightly – Grier meant it. Since that press conference, the Dolphins have announced their interest in interviewing five separate candidates for the vacant Head Coach position.
Vic Fangio –
Tied to Head Coaching jobs in the past, Fangio has instead kept to his craft of coaching dominant defenses – and boy did he ever in 2018. Fangio will not be available until the Bears are eliminated from post-season contention (they play Sunday vs. Philadelphia), but his work transforming that side of the football was instrumental in Chicago’s first trip to the post-season since 2010.
Fangio does two things; chew gum, and built great defense – and he’s all out of gum. Fangio directed the number one defense in the NFL in 2018, up from his 2017 work where he had the Bears in the top 10.
Those big jumps took some time as the Bears ranked 20th and 24th in total defense in Fangio’s first two years. The 2014 defense Fangio took over was 30th in the NFL.
The story was the same in San Francisco prior to his arrival. A good defense in 2010 (13thoverall), Fangio’s four years brought back two second-ranked defenses, a third-ranking and a fifth-ranked squad in 2014.
Fangio was at the forefront of the coaching vacancies around the league in 2017, but declined to move on because of what he was building in Chicago. He also felt that coaching defense in Chicago was a privilege and something he didn’t take lightly.
Fangio spent one year at the college ranks with Jim Harbaugh (who brought him to San Francisco for the 49ers job thereafter). Prior to that, Fangio was on John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens staff in 2008 and 2009 (a holdover from Brian Billick’s Ravens’ staff).
Fangio, age 60, has been coaching football since the 1970’s. He’s never been the Head Coach anywhere, but neither was Bruce Arians until his Coach of the Year 2012 season with the Indianapolis Colts.
“He’s an evil genius.” – Khalil Mack
“He’s a mob boss – the godfather all the way.” – Aaron Lynch
Eric Bieniemy –
The next in line from the recent lineage of offensive geniuses, Bieniemy is the latest apple to fall from the Andy Reid Tree. With the success of Matt Nagy in Chicago, Bieniemy will likely have his pick of Head Coaching gigs this off-season – if that’s what he desires.
Bieniemy just took a good offense and turned it into a revolutionary one in Kansas City. The running backs coach from 2013-2017, Bieniemy took over the offense along with new Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Under Bieniemy, Mahomes threw for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns.
His first year as a coordinator in the NFL brought back number one ranks across the board. Total offense, scoring percentage, scoring offense and yards-per-play, nobody outdid Kansas City’s 35.5 points-per-game in 2018.
A second-round draft pick in 1991, Bieniemy played for nine years before returning to his alma matter, Colorado, to coach the running backs. Playing with the Eagles in 1999 Bieniemy established a relationship with Andy Reid that would turn into a coaching job 13 years later.
Following up Reid’s mantra of being a teacher above all, Bieniemy is a stickler for the details.
And it works.
Eight of the 11 Head Coaches from the Reid Coaching Tree have gone on to make the playoffs. Three of them went to a Super Bowl (Ron Rivera) and two of them won it (Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh).
“He yells, he screams, he says funny things and it is awesome. We have affectionately termed these funny things Bieiniemyisms.”
Eric is a phenomenal football coach. I can’tcan’tspeakspeak for other people on that,butyougoout,openthedoorandtalktoeverybody. At the Senior Bowl, I talk to guys and say let’s talk some ball. As long as a guy loves ball, he’s got aptitude and is willing to work, I’m all in on it, man, and that’s what Eric is.” – AndyReid
Bieniemy won’t be available for at least two weeks – his Chiefs are onto the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Mike Munchak –
The only man on this short-list with NFL Head Coaching experience, Munchak has earned the admiration of multiple teams in the league with coaching vacancies.
Munchak took over the Pittsburgh OL job in 2014 after being dismissed from Tennessee (as the HC). During his time in Pittsburgh, Munchak has turned mounds of clay into one of the best offensive lines in the NFL – most notably with Alejandro Villanueva. The massive six-foot-nine, 320-pound tackle was a project after serving as a Captain in the US Army – now he’s one of the best in the business.
“What makes Coach Munchak, great first and foremost, is that he’s a great person. He’s a person that has a great set of values that works harder than anybody. He’s a person that truly understands the game from a technical aspect. He’s not going to really worry about things that just happen in football where other coaches might spend too much time thinking about those little mistakes.
He’s such a good person and he’s such an admirable man in every single way. The way he behaves, the way he carries himself. He’s very consistent, treats everybody the same. He’s always the same person. It gets to the point where you really don’t want to let him down. You want to play your best for him.”
There probably doesn’t need to be another character reference beyond that one.
Munchak was an underwhelming 22-26 with the Titans. He never found a quarterback (the team traded up for Marcus Mariota the year after his dismissal) and, frankly, never had a roster worth much more than the middling .500 returns he provided.
Brian Flores –
A member of Bill Belichick’s staff since the 2004 season, Flores has worked his way up the ranks. From a scouting assistant, pro scout, all the way up to the Defensive Coordinator in 2018, Flores is well-versed in the scope of an entire football operation.
With a patchwork group on the defensive side, Flores coached the Patriots defense up to the 7th lowest yards allowed in 2018. Only five teams allowed fewer points than Flores’ defense.
Something this blog has harped on is the lack of teaching being done by Miami coaches. The first thing Bill Belichick references with Flores is his ability to do just that – teach.
“I think Brian and our defensive staff has done a good job in teaching the players and installing our system,” Belichick said.
“I’m excited for where he’s at right now,” said safety Duron Harmon. “He’s worked to put himself in this position.”
Flores won’t be available for two weeks at the earliest – his Patriots have a first-round playoff bye.
Kris Richard –
Coordinating the defensive passing game and coaching the DBs in Dallas, Richard’s connection to Chris Grier goes through Pete Carroll.
Richard spent the first 10 years of his coaching career in Seattle. He was promoted to Assistant Defensive Backs Coach in 2009 when Carroll arrived and his ascension would continue at a rapid pace.
Richard became the Defensive Backs Coach in 2012 before taking over as the full time Defensive Coordinator in 2015.
Coaching the Legion of Boom could entice Richard to look at what Miami has to work with in the secondary. Xavien Howard (Richard Sherman), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Earl Thomas), Reshad Jones (Kam Chancellor) could make up an intriguing defensive scheme for Richard to build in Miami.
“He’s got a great presentation about him,” [John] Schneider said. “He’s got a great way of teaching guys like in a real, clear concise manner not like guys are having their heads spinning. That’s probably the best way to describe it.
“He’s had rooms where he’s had a lot of strong, alpha personalities, and he handled it.”
Richard’s Cowboys play the Seahawks Saturday in the NFC wildcard round.
As we know, both of the Harbaugh brothers bear a special interest to Stephen Ross. If the Ravens are eliminated from the post-season on Sunday, expect the rumors around a trade between Baltimore and Miami to resurface for the services of John Harbaugh.
Lincoln Riley is still nothing more than a hot name at this point on the college landscape. Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell declined an interview with the New York Jets, but remains open to the idea of a jump to the league.
Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule has been linked to some NFL jobs – he turned around a Baylor program that was headed for utter purgatory following a 1-11 season and its own scandalous nature.
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) is another name that has been mentioned for HC jobs in the NFL. Colts DC Matt Eberflus, Saints Assistant HC Dan Campbell and Dolphins Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi all figure to garner interest as well.
We’ll have you updated with any and all changes the Dolphins make in the coming days both on LockedOnDolphins.com and the Locked On Dolphins podcast.
Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts
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.
Something special cookin’ down in Miami! 🤫 https://t.co/GDuC4Aogu5
— Jakeem Grant (@_TheDreamIsHere) November 9, 2020
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.
tua’s first career interception? pic.twitter.com/GkSn8KGeBw
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 8, 2020
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.
.@Tua said SEE YA
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2020
TUA WITH THE JUKES!!! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/FKScMk6wmR
— LasnerSport (@LasnerSport) November 8, 2020
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.
Ted Karras on Tua
That one scramble where he split those guys was exceptional. I don’t think any moment is too big for Tua. He works hard and has earned the respect of everyone in that huddle.
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 9, 2020
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.
Darrell Daniels took it BACK. What a TD! #RedSea
— NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2020
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)
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) November 8, 2020
But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:
Deep ball DIME from Kyler Murray to Christian Kirk.
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) November 8, 2020
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.
Teria sido Wilkins que machucou Williams? pic.twitter.com/RdR0rHfapJ
— Phins BR 🐬 (@PhinsBr) November 8, 2020
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).
Xavien Howard has been flagged for pass interference 4 times now (3 accepted, 1 offsetting). It's the first time he's been flagged more than twice in a game.
Including the offsetting DPI, Howard's 4 PI penalties are the most by a player in a single game over the last 20 seasons pic.twitter.com/fanl15HP0i
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2020
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.
According to @ESPNStatsInfo; DeAndre Hopkins has yet to be targeted; that has only happened one other time in his career where he wasn't targeted in the first half – ('13 vs. the Raiders).
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) November 8, 2020
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.
Will take Austin Jackson time to get rust off; wasn't sharp there in that regrettable series. Though Jesse Davis is now at RG, I would expect to see Kindley again today. Fins trying to fit six guys into five spots, figure out what's best
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) November 8, 2020
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.
The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises
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.
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.
Miami undertook rebuilds in 2005 and 2008 under Nick Saban and then Bill Parcells. In both cases the decision was made that they needed to build a TEAM, and THEN get a QB. As a result of those priorities, they passed on Aaron Rodgers for Ronnie Brown, and Matt Ryan for Jake Long.
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 15, 2019
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.
I love draft grades! A few From 2017
8. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina PanthersGrade: D+
10. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs Grade: C-
12. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans Grade: C+
22. Charles Harris, Miami Dolphins Grade: A
28. Taco Charlton, Dallas CowboysGrade: A-
— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) April 26, 2020
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.
First look at Tua Tagovailoa in a Dolphins uniform: pic.twitter.com/7N3Fh95Mqt
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 7, 2020
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.
Interesting stuff here. At press time, the Dolphins are the 2nd youngest team in the NFL by .1 years of age (Jacksonville). After having the 7th oldest roster in 2018, Miami had the youngest in 2019 and now 2nd youngest in 2020. https://t.co/Ns5IoesIQd
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 6, 2020
"He's a really good player. One thing that's really special about Noah is his maturity," Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones said of Igbinoghene. "It's really cool to see a young guy like that come into the league and be so prepared."
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) September 9, 2020
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.
NBC's Peter King picks Dolphins to win AFC East and be 4th seed, behind Baltimore, KC, Tennessee. And (if you missed this), CBS/NFL Net's Nate Burleson said Dolphins have best chance of any team of becoming a dynasty excluding KC: https://t.co/dOm5zhhVkV
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) September 7, 2020
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.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 4, 2020
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).
Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)
There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL
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.
I really though back in 2011 after the first opening drive of the season that it was the Dolphins year. This drive by Chad Henne was BEAUTIFUL. pic.twitter.com/dt7WlZoINy
— Cedrick Allen (@SeeCeddyRun) April 16, 2020
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.
Jay Cutler really sold his involvement in the Wildcat 😂 pic.twitter.com/WsjyRHyzoC
— NFL on ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsNFL) October 1, 2017
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.
The 18th pick in April's draft turns 21 today! https://t.co/teEPyKtGSe
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) August 11, 2020
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.
The Miami Dolphins have drafted a possibly transcendent QB, traded for an explosive, young, proven NFL RB, taken potential studs at LT and RT, added depth and strength to DL and interior OL and taken two talented, versatile DBs. How’s your draft going?
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) April 25, 2020
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.
Austin Jackson is young. He needs time to develop his technique and his play strength. I don't think he's ready to start in the NFL right now. He's got the talent to develop into something special, but a bunch of these "high upside, raw technique" guys don't get better in the NFL
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) April 24, 2020
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.
- Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts November 9, 2020
- The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises September 10, 2020
- There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL August 12, 2020
- Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts July 27, 2020
- In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game July 27, 2020