So, here we are once again, on the precipice of yet another franchise-altering offseason, one which we all hope will bear postseason fruit. An increasingly anxious, irritable fan base waits to see what havoc Chris Grier, Mike Tannenbaum, and Adam Gase will wreak upon the Miami Dolphins’ 53 man roster. That’s one of the fringe benefits of a 6-10 season: you know the team isn’t going to stand pat. Wholesale changes are coming, and that makes the draft and free agency a little more interesting.
To avoid the same failure that has become all too familiar to Dolphin fans over the past twenty years or so, the team must avoid succumbing to the same mistakes they’ve made in past offseasons. A lot of folks don’t like it when I bring up the lopsided disparity between offensive and defensive players selected by Miami in the draft, but since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, no other team has expended eight of twelve first round picks on offense and no other team has spent a first round pick, a second-round pick, three third round picks and a fourth-round pick on wide receivers in a three year period, as the Dolphins did in 2014-16. Of the four players, Miami acquired with that bounty of draft picks, only trade acquisition Kenny Stills is considered a lock to start for the Dolphins this coming season.
But there have been other pitfalls, too. As Daytona Dolfan, 39 Is Number One and other fans who have followed the team for a long period of time would probably agree, it’s painfully frustrating to watch the Dolphins make many of the same mistakes today that they made back in the 1980’s and 90’s, the kind of mistakes that cost Dan Marino a Super Bowl ring. Namely, trying to cover up bad players with great players. One the reasons the Dolphins have done so poorly against the Bills and Jets over the past twenty-five years or so is not because the Buffalo and New York have had more great players than the Dolphins have had; it’s because they’ve had fewer bad players. If you compare football players to poker chips, virtually all NFL teams have pretty much the same number of blue-chip players. Unless they’re extremely shrewd, like New England or Pittsburgh, or they have a lot of top five draft picks on their roster, like Jacksonville or Detroit, a few years ago, most teams have the same number of top-tier guys on their roster. What ultimately determines how competitive an NFL team can be is the number of red chip players, versus white chip players they have. For whatever reason, the Bills, Jets and other AFC teams have been able to identify and acquire more red chip players while the Dolphins have struggled to find, and keep those type of players, resulting in their having an overall weaker roster with less depth to cope with injuries.
As for Miami taking a quarterback in April’s draft, the guy I like is Lamar Jackson. While his size and arm strength don’t appear to be overly special, what I really like about this kid is his razor-sharp instincts; like all great athletes and great quarterbacks, he just always seems to know exactly what to do and when to do it. He’s the type of QB Can break a defense’s back, because when they’re in position to stop one play, he’ll hit them with another. That’s something you just can’t teach.