One of the inherent consequences of speculating about ‘what if’ the Miami Dolphins did this, or that, or ‘what if’ we had acquired this player or that player, etc, is that, since the Dolphins have only been to the playoffs twice in the past fifteen seasons or so, and haven’t won a playoff game since January 2001, any such debate or discussion is most likely going to have a negative feel to it. We can go on and on about how they should have drafted Drew Brees, instead of Jamar Fletcher, in 2001, or signed Brees, instead of Daunte Culpepper (a move I strongly agreed with at the time), or that they shouldn’t have traded up for Dion Jordan in 2013, etc.
All of that notwithstanding, I can tell you that I strongly agreed with most of the moves the team made a season ago and support virtually every decision and acquisition that they’ve made thus far in 2018. In just one year, I’ve gone from being one of the team’s harshest critics to someone who’s drinking the Kool-Aid like a man dying of thirst in the desert. Two consecutive first round draft picks on defense and a slew of what I believe were shrewd free agent signings will do that for you.
So, today, I want to talk about some of the moves the team could have made that we’re fortunate, as fans, they didn’t. Remember how hard Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to sign Jeff Fisher, to coach the team, in 2012? Ross vowed that he wouldn’t be outbid for Fisher’s services, even sending a helicopter to pick him up and bring him to the team’s headquarters in Davie. In the end, though, Fisher chose ‘Cranky Stan Kroenke’ of the Rams, and the Dolphins are better off for it today. I’m not saying that Joe Philbin was necessarily an upgrade over Fisher, but it least it was easier to fire ‘Philbert’ than it would have been to fire Fisher, a respected defensive mind in league circles. In all likelihood, the team would have stumbled along for another couple of years before Ross ran out of patience, and missed out on the opportunity to land Adam Gase.
If you think we’re lucky to have missed out on Fisher, here’s another one for you: remember how much former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland loved to make big, bold moves? Although it would have been difficult to match the king’s ransom the Redskins gave the Rams, for the right to draft Robert Griffin III in 2012, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Ireland could have bet the ranch on RGIII; if he had, Miami would have had to suffer through some really bad times as a franchise. The only thing worse than missing on a high first round pick is missing on a high first round pick and then having to give up your next two high first round picks to another team, because the player you mortgaged the future for didn’t pan out, and you traded those picks away, to get that player.
Speaking of Ross, although he’s made his mistakes since taking over as the team’s owner in 2009, his unwavering commitment to bringing the Dolphins back to respectability is beyond question. You’d never know it, though, based on the way he’s treated by the press. The poor guy can’t catch a break. When the NFL informed him that he’d have to make expensive upgrades to what is now known as ‘Hard Rock Stadium’, if Miami wanted to host another Super Bowl, Ross asked the city of Miami for some help. Now, before we say, ‘Good, the city shouldn’t have paid for it’, keep in mind that he didn’t ask them to pay for the stadium improvements carte blanche; he simply asked them to chip in a small portion of the cost. They said no. So, he asked for a small tax break. Again, no dice. Finally, Ross swallowed hard and shelled out the entire $350 million dollars that it would cost, out of his own pocket, to ensure that the improvements would be made. Unlike so many other owners, he never once threatened to move the franchise to another state. Somehow, the name, ‘Las Vegas Dolphins’, just doesn’t sound right.
You’d think, after all the ‘Welfare For Billionaires’ rhetoric that was bandied about in the press during the discussions to have Miami-Dade help out with expenses for the improvements to the stadium, that Ross would be more appreciated. You would be wrong, however. After it was announced that Ross would pay for the upgrades himself, he became a target once again, in the national media, for ‘setting a bad precedent’, that because of his actions, other owners, who might not have the resources to pay for similar improvements themselves, could be forced to sell their teams, if they found themselves in the same situation.
So, in sum, I think we have a lot to be thankful for these days. The Dolphins appear to finally be on the right track to fielding a winning team once again, Brady and Belichick are getting older and I still see ten wins on the schedule in 2018. It’s an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan.