48 regular season games ago we thought we had the answer. We thought we were going into year three of a rebuilding mode headed by a qualified leader that claimed to be going nowhere. Then he left.
32 regular season games ago we completed the worst season in team history.
Then things changed.
16 regular season games ago we were AFC Champions. We hosted a playoff game. Let me repeat. Following the worst season in the history of our team we won the AFC East and hosted a playoff game. One more time. AFC Champs, home playoff game.
Last season was completely expected and I doubt any of us had that team projected as better then a 10-6 team. Considering the amount of injuries this team got hit with last year I think 7-9 is commendable. The fact that there was still a chance to make the playoffs in week 17 shows that it wasn't that bad a year.
After the jump you'll find all the reasons in the world why the Trifecta is doing an elite job in rebuilding this team as well as perspective when someone complains about the architects of a 1-15 to 11-5 turnaround regardless of 2009.
Jake Long is a huge reason I trust these guys. Who knows who Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron would have picked for us in 2008. The idea of those guys being in charge of a 40 million dollar payday scares a hell out of me. The Trifecta hit with the most important pick we've had since the Ronnie Brown selection.
Think of the short period of time they've had. Two free agent periods and two drafts. Consider all the players they've acquired that have become the core of this team. Here's 25 players they've acquired that are the polar opposite of players considered a bust.
1. Jake Long-Potential Hall of Fame player.
2. Karlos Dansby-Forget the money, it's not yours and it was well spent. He's one of the best at his position.
3. Chad Henne-Although he hasn't proven to be the answer he's the damn closest thing we've had to a long term answer since Marino.
4. Randy Starks-Affordable free agent acquisition in 2008 that also looks to be a long term answer.
5. Kendall Langford-3rd round pick that seems to be a long term answer.
6. Devone Bess-Undrafted free agent who should rule out the Wilford blunder. This guy is a long term answer for us at WR and with the addition of a #1 he could have a Welker type season.
7. Sean Smith-Another long term answer at amazing value in the 2nd round.
8. Vontae Davis-Guy was more of an answer in 2009 as opposed to a question. Appears to be a long term answer.
9. Lousaka Polite-Free agent acquisition that seems to be a long term answer as well as an obvious fan favorite.
10. Donald Thomas-I've seen some hate towards this guy lately but I think we're quick to forget he was a 6th round pick in 2008 and was coming off an injury in 2009. Give this guy time.
11. Phillip Merling-Another player that seems to fill a long term answer. Especially as a complement to the previously two mentioned DEs.
12. Brian Hartline-4th round pick that might have gotten a little lucky at times last year but still gained confidence.
13. Chad Pennington-What he brought to this team in 2008 can never be forgotten. He instilled confidence as well as quality at the QB position. Henne might not have been as good as he was in 2009 if not for Pennington. Having him back for 2010 is a nice surprise.
14. Dan Carpenter-Solid long term player who went undrafted.
15. Cam Wake-Whether he succeeds or fails in 2010, I do not know. I do know that up to this point he's come as advertised and the fan base seems excited about him. I'm looking forward to him displaying skills he has yet to display.
16. Jake Grove-If he stayed healthy this year he'd be higher on the list. Free agent acquisition that must be highlighted if guys like Wilford and Wilson are being highlighted as busts.
17. Anthony Fasano-2008 was better then 2009. Lets hope that he bounces back in 2010. He's a quality player and when you consider that we got him and Adoyele for a 4th he becomes an even better transaction.
18. Jason Ferguson-Got him for a 6th round pick. Argue all you want about his suspension but for the last two years he's been an answer for us when healthy.
19. Jason Taylor-I consider him a acquired player since they traded him first. The difference between bringing back Ferg and JT is that we've already acquired JT's replacement, his name is Cam Wake. Wake will fill the role that JT covets as the 3rd down rusher. By not resigning JT they might be showing him respect since they might be convinced that he'd be cut at the end of camp.
20. Lex Hilliard-Solid player from the 6th round who has shown us flashes.
21. Chris Clemons-As a 5th round selection he showed ability. Now if they instill the instincts he needs he could be a long term answer for us in time.
22. Nate Garner-Originally a 7th round pick of the Jets, he was awarded to the Dolphins off waiver. Although still listed as a tackle on the Dolphins website he seemed to be groomed for a role at guard last year. I'd imagine the success of Garner last year has a lot to do with the attempted trade of Smiley.
23. Joe Berger-Solid free agent acquisition who showed great versatility.
24. Tyler Thigpen-Quality player they acquired for a 5th round pick. At the rate teams are looking for QBs I'm sure they'll turn a profit on that 5th pretty soon unless they get that value back in a Pennington trade.
25. Justin Smiley-When healthy he's been a solid answer for us although we're about to trade him. As long as we get at least a 4th for him I'm good with that. I'm of the opinion that playing next to Jake Long makes a lot of players better.
Now another 12 players that some might consider busts but since they're still here they do have a chance to turn it around. Either way these players were acquired and not inherited and are listed alphabetically.
Charlie Anderson, Erik Walden, Kory Sheets, Kory Sperry, Lionel Dotson, Pat White, Patrick Turner, Quentin Moses, Reggie Torbor, Richie Incognito, Tony McDaniel and Tyrone Culver.
Here's 14 players that they inherited from previous team acquisitions. I feel like each of these players has gotten better since this Front Office has taken over. Not only that but the fact that they were able to keep 14 players two years after a 1-15 season shows that they have done the best with what they had. Not only that but many of these players required new contracts over the last two years so the Trifecta approached these players with an open mind and not as if they weren't "their" guys. Once again in alphabetical order.
Brandon Fields, Channing Crowder, Greg Camarillo, Jason Allen, Joey Haynos, John Denney, Patrick Cobbs, Paul Soliai, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Ted Ginn Jr., Vernon Carey, Will Allen and Yeremiah Bell.
How about another 17 players they've acquired that have yet to get the opportunity to prove their worth. From a pure numbers standpoint there should be more then a couple that develop out of these 17.
Andrew Gardner, Andrew Hartline, Brian Johnston, Dimitri Tsoumpas, Evan Oglesby, Ikaika Alama-Francis, J.D. Folsom, John Nalbone, Julius Pruitt, Lydon Murtha, Nate Ness, Ray Feinga, Rolly Lumbala, Ryan Baker, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Taurus Johnson and Tristan Davis.
So there you have it. 25 players that I would consider solid acquisitions, 12 more who have contributed and could get better, 14 inherited players who they've continued to develop and 17 players who have yet to receive the opportunity to succeed or fail.
I don't choose to "blindly follow" the Trifecta. I choose to follow the Trifecta based on their track record as well as what they have brought us so far which is stability, integrity and respect.
For all the reasons I just outlined I choose to believe in the Trifecta when they decide to draft guys like Pat White, trade guys like Justin Smiley, not resign guys like Jason Taylor and sign guys like Gibril Wilson.
Sometimes they're wrong but the majority of the time they've been right so show some faith in the men we've all been waiting to lead us for a very long time.