As the Miami Dolphins inch ever closer to the start of Summer training camp and the eventual regular season, the inexorable reality that this is a season unlike any other in the fifty four year history of the franchise continues to at once captivate and confound the team’s fan base.
Never before has the team’s front office intentionally left the roster so undermanned that the team, at least on paper, may not be able to beat a single opponent on its sixteen game schedule. I personally don’t believe it will be that bad; as I’ve said previously, I look for them to win about four games. They have two quarterbacks who are capable of making big plays and their receiving corps remains one of the better ones in the division. The defense, despite being in a state of transition, in apparently moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment, still has some star power in the secondary and the return game, with Grant and Drake, remains solid. Still, Vegas has the over/under for the Dolphins’ win total at either five or five and a half games. You’d almost have to be overly optimistic to believe they’ll win any more than that.
This rebuild is going to be a long process, folks; perhaps we’d be best served to regard the 2019 and 2020 seasons as a single entity, with the payoff for what promises to be an abysmally bad season this year being the first or second overall pick in next year’s draft. It’s going to be a long ride, relax and enjoy it.
There are a couple of highly questionable narratives making the rounds that I want to address here. The first is that those of us who want to see a top two draft pick next Spring are advocating that the players and/or coaching staff intentionally lose games. This accusation has reared its ugly head on several occasions the past few years, and I think those who are making it know, deep down, that that’s not at all what we’re saying. It’s just much easier to keep the outrage manufacturing facilities running at full capacity if we can try and make another point of view look as bad as possible. Guys, we aren’t the ones who gutted the team’s roster and we aren’t the ones who let two starters on the offensive line leave town, while trading down from the 48th overall pick, when there were still plenty of quality offensive linemen available. The team’s front office, at the behest of ownership, did that. We aren’t the ones who let a guy who remains one of the best pass rushers in the game, in Cam Wake, leave town, while doing virtually nothing to replace him. The team’s front office, at the behest of ownership, did that. Don’t want to root for the team to lose? Don’t worry -- the team’s top brass has already done the heavy lifting for you, by ensuring that the team will fail to be competitive in most of its games this season. Relax and enjoy the ride.
The other bogus narrative being bandied about is that if the Dolphins, as expected, use the first or second pick of next year’s draft to select a quarterback, then the second and fifth round picks Miami gave up for Josh Rosen were a complete and total loss. Let me see if I’ve got this right: a team that hasn’t had one good quarterback for the past twenty years now has a chance to have two high first round picks at QB, both of whom will be on cheap rookie contracts for the next several years while the team evaluates them, and can eventually trade whichever guy they don’t keep (unless he hits free agency first) and that’s supposed to be a bad thing? It’s amazing how far we’re willing to sprain our necks when we’re trying not to see something. I don’t have anything against Josh Rosen; I think he’s a great kid, and he throws a really nice, very catchable ball. Special thanks to EJPLAYA from the Himalaya, for pointing out that Rosen apparently was ranked in the NFL’s top five, on accuracy of throws longer than twenty yards last season. When the team drafts another quarterback high next Spring, and they will, unless someone offers them an RGIII like bounty for their pick, by no means will it mean that they’ve given up on Rosen. All it will mean is that they want be absolutely sure that they’re able to get, not just good, but great, play from the position for the foreseeable future.
Finally, I think we need to talk about exceptions again. When someone says, “The vast majority of the time, such-and-such happens”, and we respond with, “Yeah, but it doesn’t always happen that way”, we’re not demonstrating that the rule is null and void. All we’re doing, in essence, is trying to make a ten percent outcome outweigh the other ninety percent. If I hold up a jar that contains a hundred jelly beans, right now, and show it to everybody, what are we all going to notice, the 98 candies that are green, or the two that are yellow? Would you believe that if you reached in the jar without looking, and pulled out one jelly bean, that there would be a greater likelihood of grabbing a yellow one, when only two out of a hundred were yellow? Of course not, but that’s essentially the argument we’re making when we say it doesn’t matter whether we’re drafting in the top five, because Tom Brady was a sixth round pick, etc. Was Doug Marrone a better coach when he took the Jacksonville Jaguars to the AFC championship game a couple of years ago than he was with the Buffalo Bills a few years back? No, he just had better players in Jacksonville.
I think everybody just needs to take a deep breath, and realize that this franchise is going to take a while to turn around. We’re in the car, on our way to see what looks like it will be a pretty good movie, but it’s one of those three hour marathons, not a quick, hour and a half to two hour flick. Can we please try not to beat the hell out of each other before we even get to the theater? Relax and enjoy the ride, folks.