Whoa, whoa, whoa let me explain.
Miami is on a collision course with the #1 pick in next year's draft. Notice I said the #1 pick not the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. We should let Tony finish the season because the team will either turn it around or they will suck out loud all the way to the a top 3 pick. Let's consider 1 given and 2 potential options that we could follow after such a disastrous season. First, the given is we get a new Head Coach. I know this didn't work out well last offseason but bear in mind that
(A) Ross will now be desperate and cave to just about any demand and
(B) the new HC will have a top 3 pick in each round to work with which means they will be able to do a quick rebuild to address our deficiencies.
OPTION 1 The new HC uses our first round pick to select a new QB (Andrew Luck or the next guy in line if we are picking 2nd or 3rd) and uses the remaining pick to address RT, TE, FS, NT (If a 3-4 coach) and depth issues not necessarily in that order. The coach then molds the team to be a hungry attacking team that dictates the game to the other team instead of playing to what is available. Is it any surprise we fall apart in the red zone when we are playing with what the defense gives us? They don't have much to give on a very short field so no wonder we look confused and bewildered inside the 20.
OPTION 2 The new HC sees the brilliance of the Bill Belichick approach and trades back to pick up new picks (Especially if we have the #1 pick) since we have a suitable QB in Chad Henne. Remember Henne has posted 90.0 or better QB ratings in 2 of our 3 games thus far. Also remember that with even a decent RT, Henne would only have 1 INT not thrown on a desperate Hail Mary when down by more than 1 score. If Henne had only 1 INT thus far his QB rating would be 91.7 which would rank him 12 with Joe Flacco (0.2 off). Also if not for the last possession against Cleveland (necessitated by our missed FG, fumble at the Browns 20 , and general lack of killer instinct) Henne would have a QB rating of 95.3 which would make him a top 10 QB. If we hold the #1 pick we should be able to trade with any of the top 5 teams and pick up at least a first round swap and a 2nd round pick and probably another pick or a 2nd round pick the following year. This would be akin to Jimmy Johnson rebuilding the Cowboys but without trading the only real star on an otherwise lackluster team. If we are picking 2nd or 3rd, we could trade back up to 10 spots and still address our issues while picking up another pick in the later rounds (likely round 2 or multiple picks starting in round 3 or 4) to go with that round's top 3 pick. Everybody now knows that in this day and age you have to build a dynasty through the draft and having 5 or 6 picks in the top 100 would be a huge opportunity to create a rock solid team on both sides of the ball.
- We have a pound the rock RB in Daniel Thomas and a very strong left side of the line but must improve the RT position (could upgrade RG while we are at it) and we have an alpha receiver in Brandon Marshall, a slot machine in Davone Bess and a VERY underrated #2 in Brian Hartline as well as an all-around TE in Anthony Fasano. We also have a much improved QB in Henne. Prior to our last possession yesterday, Henne had a 121 QB rating. God only knows what Daboll and Sparano were thinking on the last possession but it is clear they can't keep their wits when under pressure. We needed about 12 yards for a high-% field goal but no runs (even with the TO) and long-developing pass plays that the Browns just sat down on. Instead of looking for the first down and winning field goal, we started flinging it all over the place against a medium to long pass coverage. Why not fling a short screen to Bush and let him take it out of bounds? You bring in a guy like Reggie Bush for this purpose and don't use him? Ridiculous!
- As for the defense, Mike Nolan isn't looking like the man with all the answers anymore. We still aren't getting pressure at the end of games and with our offense playing not to lose, Nolan has to play to win. We have a D-line that can play 3-4 or 4-3 and has strong depth and should get better (especially in Jared Odrick's case) with more playing time. Our LBs are getting better at covering TEs (Still have a ways to go) but they need to get more pressure on QBs when blitzing. Our secondary, dear God WTF is with our secondary? WE need a free safety big time! WE also have 4 corners that are very capable (I'm talking about Jimmy Wilson not Nolan Carroll so don't shoot me) but keep making half-assed mental errors and getting burned for it. Our defense has regressed like we couldn't have expected and Nolan will not be retained by a new coach if he can't straighten it out before season's end.
Point blank reality check: Andrew Luck will NOT turn this team into a contender.
Whoever the new coach is will have the 2012 draft to serve notice to the team and the league that we are building a dynasty by building a team full of great players that doesn't need a superstar to win the big one (A la Green Bay last season - Aaron Rogers was good but wasn't considered elite until after last season). We can draft Andrew Luck and improve (Marginally) but without the remaining holes being plugged we will be limited. This team has a tremendous amount of talent but the mentality is SORELY lacking. Anybody notice how Henne has improved so drastically but still chokes on end-zone passes that require pinpoint accuracy or they will get picked? Henne has had 3 different throws sail high of his target because he doesn't want to risk a pick in the end zone (Playing not to lose the FG as opposed to playing for the TD). This is the biggest flaw left in Henne's game and is a DIRECT result of the coaching mentality of Sparano. Tony Sparano is the ultimate proponent of the play not to lose coaching strategy and it has proven not to work again and again (Especially since Wannstedt took over in 2000) in the years since Shula. It's hard to remember the days of running up a 31-0 rout of the Chargers in the playoffs (1992) when we can't even put up 20 points (let alone a 20 point lead) against a Browns team with a new coaching staff, a 2nd year QB and without its principal offensive weapon. What the Dolphins need is an Offensive-minded head coach that is not afraid to take chances and is willing to win a game based on his teams ability as opposed to what his opponent allows. I didn't see Buffalo playing to what NE gave them. Buffalo played their game and ran head to head with the top team in the AFC. Granted Brady and NE helped them out with turnovers but Buffalo has to catch the INTs or they don't happen. Buffalo has now put up 113 pts on KC, Oakland and NE (an AVERAGE of 37.7 pts/gm) while we have managed only 53 pts over 3 games against NE, Houston and Cleveland (an average of 17.7 pts/gm). THe kicker is that even though we are averaging 20 fewer pts/gme than Buffalo, we are averaging only 25 seconds less time of possession than the Bills. 25 seconds less time and 20 fewer pts? Chan Gailey > Tony Sparano. There is just no ignoring it. Sparano will lose his job but 1 more loss will cement this season as playoff-less and why bother bringing in a new HC with less than 1 week to prepare for a powerhouse like San Diego? Let Tony finish the year and then show him the door. It will show the Head coaching candidates that Ross will stick with a coach if it is in the best interest of his team and will almost assuredly lead to a high drafting position. Unfortunately this means we have to suffer through another season like 2007 but at least we can move on with a new HC that knows what he is doing (Unlike when Parcells put his own cronies in charge of the asylum).