It has been said that man is the only animal who will break his neck to save face. If this is so, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is probably in traction as we speak, wearing one of those protective ‘halo’ devices. Figuratively speaking, of course. Probably a good deal more gullible than most of us would like him to be, he’s had a tendency to believe just about anything someone close to him tells him, since becoming majority owner of the franchise a decade ago. Whether it was Jeff Ireland telling him Tony Sparano couldn’t coach, Joe Philbin telling him Ireland couldn’t draft or Adam Gase telling him that the more Pro Bowl players they waived or traded, the more likely they were to win a championship, you get the sense that if he trusts you, you could sell Stephen Ross just about anything.
I don’t know who got to him most recently, or if perhaps he started off on this new tack all by himself, but I like where he’s headed with this team. As a diehard Dolphin fan for more than forty years, what other choice do I have, you ask? Good question. Still, as Ross himself said at Miami’s season ending press conference, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Never one to quibble over costs, Ross went all in with his new head coach, former Patriots defensive wunderkind Brian Flores. The last time an NFL owner hired a guy named Flores, Tom Flores won league championships for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders after the 1980 and ‘83 seasons. Has the ghost of Al Davis been resurrected over South Florida? Hey, if it’s the Davis of the late 70’s and early 80’s, you’ll get no complaints from me. Relying on a ferocious defense, a relentless running game and speed to burn at the offensive skill positions and the defensive backfield, the Raiders were the most feared team in the NFL for many years.
While Stephen Ross is, of course, far too nice and well meaning a guy to be compared to Davis, you get the sense that he’s leaned from his mistakes over the past few seasons. We can chide him all we want for not knowing a whole lot about the NFL game when he arrived, but other than those owners who inherited their teams from their fathers, who really does know very much when they first purchase a team? Ross wasted no time inking Flores to five year guaranteed contract, and unless Flores fails badly, which looks doubtful, he’ll coach every one of the eighty games of that contract, and hopefully a lot more. With a veteran, NFL tested coaching staff featuring guys like Jim Caldwell, Chad ‘Bird of Prey’ O’Shea, Patrick Graham and others, Flores figures to be well equipped to make the halftime adjustments other Dolphin coaches have been unable (Philbin) or unwilling (Gase) to make in recent years.
Of course, you still have to have enough good players on your side of the field for those adjustments to do you any good, but now that GM Chris Grier has most, if not all of the decision making power to himself, I like the Dolphins’ prospects over the next few years. As for the decision to bring former Oakland and Green Bay front office executive Reggie McKenzie into the fold, well, I never said Ross was a genius, only that he’s learned some things. It’s hard not to be voted NFL executive of the year when you’re picking in the top five slots of the draft every April. Still, even McKenzie purportedly brings some salary cap prowess with him to South Florida.
As long as Miami doesn’t do anything stupid, like drafting Kyler Murray in the first round, etc, I like this this team’s chances. Speaking of Murray, not long ago, I said that if he tips the scales at 195 pounds or more at the combine, I’d eat my hat. It looks like he may end up doing just that, so I’m cruising the Internet in search of edible hats. On the other hand, since I’ve already proven that I can eat just about anything with little to no ill effects, I could probably eat my one of my regular hats, as long as I can do it in two or three sittings. Once again, it’s an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan. It may not necessarily be an exciting time to expect a lot of wins immediately, but it’s an exciting time to see what kinds of moves the team will make, and who they’ll let go or trade versus who they’ll keep. Have a great week, everybody.