Even as the 2019 off-season has become the regular season, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier’s jaw dropping fireworks display of wheeling and dealing continues to turn heads, burn up social media and captivate the rest of the NFL, and even amaze those inveterate soreheads themselves, the press.
The Dolphins now have a ridiculous five first and four second round picks in the next two drafts, including three first rounders next April, after sending disgruntled defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for their number one pick in 2020. In case anyone wasn’t aware, the Steelers currently have the same W-L record as the Dolphins, 0-2, and although Mason Foster looked surprisingly good against Seattle, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is reportedly done for the rest of the season. The slot in which Pittsburgh’s first round pick ends up falling could very well be in the top ten, maybe even in the top six or seven picks.
Of course, part of what makes a season, and a fire sale like this one so much fun is the varying reactions from the fan base, by different factions of Dolphin fans. When I read a few days ago from one guy that he mainly reads the articles on here announcing players being traded, or about to be traded, so he can read the comments, presumably from irate fans complaining about the ‘culture’ of the team, I just about fell out of my chair; he’s so right. What if two NFL players from different teams we’re talking with one another during pregame warm-ups, and one of them asked the other how he liked playing for his new team? ”So how’s it going down in Miami, man?” ”Dude, I’m so excited! The Dolphins were 7-9 last year, without even having me on the team, and now, everybody thinks we’ve got an outstanding opportunity to go 8-8 this season!” Can you imagine a conversation like that taking place between two players? Neither can I. That would be some amazing team culture if it ever happened. I’m pretty sure it never has.
Another bogus narrative making the rounds recently is that having a slew of high draft picks won’t help a team, because if it did, the Cleveland Browns wouldn’t have been so bad for so long. Uh, no. The reason the Browns have been so bad for such a long period of time is because they’ve repeatedly used a high pick to select the wrong quarterback. This has been going on in Cleveland since at least 2007. They picked Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel and DeShone Kizer in 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2017, respectively. Only Kizer (round two, 52nd overall) wasn’t a first round pick.
The whole ‘culture’ discussion sort of reminds me of a May, 1975 satire done by ‘Mad’ magazine on the classic 1974 film, ‘The Longest Yard’ (Burt Reynolds, Eddy Albert). Paul Crewe (Reynolds) had been previously banned from the NFL for point shaving before ending up in prison for other offenses. The prison’s warden wants to organize a football game between the inmates and the guards, but many of his fellow prisoners are leery of playing on Crewe’s team because of his sordid history in the NFL. One of them says to Crewe, “We’re just rapists and murderers, but shaving points on a football game, it’s. . . it’s un American!”
But, hey, I get it. I know a season like this can be difficult to endure, especially when your favorite team has been outscored by a margin of 102-10 in its first two games. All I can say is, keep the faith. The team needs you, needs all of us more than ever right now. Don’t want to spend your hard earned money on Dolphins merchandise and gear? Then don’t. Steve Ross has got plenty of money; I’m sure he won’t experience much hardship as a result of less merchandise being sold. But Miami only figures to be really, atrociously bad this season. I think that by about the midpoint of the 2020 season, the Dolphins will again be playing some inspired football. For now, let’s all try to be thankful that the team at least isn’t sticking with the status quo, and mindlessly doing the same thing that has failed so miserably so many times in the past. And how about a big round of applause for a general manager who’s been on fire these past few weeks.