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Tanking as clickbait: Call the Dolphins rebuild what it is - a rebuild

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There are so many articles and conversations out there right now indicating the Miami Dolphins are planning to “tank” their 2019 season in an effort to position themselves for a top draft pick in 2020. They are going to “tank” the short term in an effort to win in the long term. They are “tanking” for the future.

And every time the word “tank” comes up, the masses descend. They argue that Miami should “tank.” They argue that the Dolphins will not “tank.” They say a new head coach would never agree to “tank.” They say free agents would stay away from a team for years if they see them as willing to “tank.” They say that the development of the latest #LoseFor... or #TankFor... or #SuckFor... hashtags are genius. Or they are dumb.

Whatever they are - the word “tank” is nothing more than clickbait in order to get those arguments coming again.

The Dolphins are not going to “tank” the 2019 season. They will not.

They are not “tanking” anything.

The Miami Dolphins are rebuilding. Period. That is it.

The Dolphins do not have a lot of salary cap space - they can create more, but they will still lag far behind the rest of the league when all of the salary cap cuts are completed - so they will not be big spenders in free agency. Rebuilds do not target free agency, they target the draft.

That is not “tanking,” that is rebuilding.

Teams with a new head coach typically take three years to (a) change players to fit the new system, (b) learn the new system, and (c) master the new system. That is exactly what the Miami Dolphins will be doing as they enter year one of a new head coach’s regime. Brian Flores did not come to Miami to “tank.” He came to Miami to rebuild the team in his image and to fit his system.

That is not “tanking,” that is rebuilding.

The dictionary says to tank is “fail completely, especially at great financial cost” and, in sports, it is “deliberately lose or fail to finish (a game).” The Dolphins are not failing completely at great financial cost, and they are not deliberately losing or failing to finish a game. They are fixing years of quick fixes that have been at great financial cost and, just because the team is looking to get younger and build through the draft does not mean they are trying to “deliberately lose.”

And they are not going to “fail to finish a game.”

That is not “tanking,” that is rebuilding.

The Dolphins want to get younger. They want to get healthier. They want to fix the issues - like the offensive line and the run defense - that have plagued the club for years. They do not want to tank - they want to fix.

Getting younger. Getting healthier. Getting better.

That is not “tanking,” that is rebuilding.

“Tanking” is a sexy word because it makes people talk. It makes people argue. And, it makes people click. The Miami Dolphins are not tanking. They are not holding out better players and calling plays that will fail in order to purposely lose a game. They are getting younger. They are fixing their faults. And they are doing it the way great teams have been built.

They are rebuilding.

You will continue to hear how the Miami Dolphins are “tanking” the 2019 season. You will hear out they will fail to find a quarterback in order to make sure they will lose. You will hear how everything is designed for 2020. You will hear how the Dolphins love this 2020 quarterback prospect and that is their target. You will hear how the Dolphins actually love this other quarterback prospect, and he is their real target. You will hear how they are all in on getting a specific player.

You will hear how they have to tank this year to get there next year.

You will even hear how “sources” have said the Dolphins, behind closed doors, are even using the word “tank” for the 2019 season to focus on 2020.

You go ahead and tell Kenyan Drake, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Xavien Howard, Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, and Reshad Jones that they need to sacrifice one year of their career, their bodies, so the team can lose. Tell them to lose on purpose. Tell them to “tank.”

You try to re-sign players like Cameron Wake, Ja’Wuan James, Frank Gore, John Denney, or any of the other soon-to-be free agents with the promise that they are going to lose as many games as possible.

Last year, all we heard pre-draft was how the Dolphins loved all the different quarterbacks. How did that work out? Somehow - without a head coach and coaching staff in place - the Dolphins now know their exact draft plans two drafts ahead of time?

Every year we see players rise and fall dramatically during the college football season, the draft prep, Pro Days, the Scouting Combine, and in team meetings. A player who today looks like a lock as the first overall pick could end up falling out of the first day by this time next year. Plus, how many other teams will be looking for a quarterback in 2020 - and could be worse than Miami, or have the ammunition to trade in front of Miami? Yet, already, Miami is locked onto a player, a system, a plan that involves intentionally failing and “knowing” they will get the guy.

I have always thought the 2020 Draft is the time to get your next quarterback. And, maybe having a higher draft pick is the right way to do it in the long run. None of that means a team has to “tank” in order to be there.

Rebuild yes. Find the younger players who can grow with the head coach and the rest of the team, starting this year. Let presumed-to-be head coach Brian Flores find the players who fit his system and let general manager Chris Grier acquire those players. Let the team grow.

A young team, growing, is not a team tanking. It is a team growing. Rebuilding.

Maybe the Dolphins are going into this season not caring if they challenge for the AFC East and are looking to build through the draft. Maybe they will lose a lot of games. Maybe they will look to 2020 to select a quarterback.

Maybe that is all just called rebuilding.