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What Last Weekend’s Playoff Games Taught Us Dolphins’ Fans

Lessons learned and other tidbits

Miami Dolphins News Conference Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

If you polled most NFL fans at the beginning of the 2019 season, would you have expected the playoffs to turn out the way it has? Let’s narrow it down even more. I bet most didn’t expect the Ravens, Patriots (well I did at least), Seahawks, Texans, Bills, or Vikings to be knocked out and have the Titans heading into the AFC Championship game. I had the Ravens winning it all, and so did many other fans and experts. Just shows that really anything can happen any given Sunday (or Saturday) in the NFL.

The one thing I think we can all agree on as a fan base, and cheers to, is that our rival teams are out (Patriots, Bills, Jets, Ravens, Steelers). I can enjoy the playoffs now knowing that every team I despise will also be watching the games from their couches as well. Just typing that out put a smile on my face. What a time to be an NFL fan.

Takeaways from the Playoff Games

I give my weekly picks on each week as part of The Phinsider group and I remember looking at who all projected the Titans to beat the Ravens and it was something like 20% or less.

(Apparently I’m kinda good at this whole picking winners thing...anyways)

I had a gut feeling that Tannehill would play well, but figured that his team wouldn’t be able to stop the Ravens, especially Lamar. I mean, we’ve all been watching the Ravens run all over previous teams all season. I thought it was a given they would win. I was wrong. Most of us were all very wrong.

I tweeted out on Saturday about how proud I was of Tannehill and the Titans, and it seems many agreed with me.

It’s almost bittersweet in a way. I’m a bit disappointed that we couldn’t experience a playoff run with him leading our team (besides the 2016 season where he got injured) like he is with the Titans, but I also know it had a lot to do with our coaching staff and it was in our best interest to move on from Tannehill. He needed a team with a better scheme fit and we needed a true rebuild and fresh start. I absolutely wish him the best. I wish the best for many of our former players that we lost because of a horrible Adam Gase as head coach. This leads me into why I think we learned some lessons as a fan base.

  • Having a head coach who players trust and who makes players want to play their best makes all the difference. Let’s take this tweet for example.

I’m old enough to remember when my newsfeed was filled with so much disdain, and at times hatred, for players like Tannehill and Parker. I will be the first to admit, I had very little faith in DeVante Parker. I have, and most fans have, admitted and apologized for doubting his talent. However, I never really doubted Ryan or other players like Kenyan Drake or Mike Gesicki. I believed their supposed lack of talent had a lot to do with our coaching and a head coach (Adam Gase) who wanted to create a “win now it’s your fault not mine culture” and believed those players just didn’t have the talent/skill/discipline for it.

Watching Tannehill win the starting quarterback position then leading his team to post-season playoffs and beating both the Patriots and Ravens at their home stadium, shows to us how bad of a coach we had in Adam Gase. I know there are fans right now thinking or saying out loud, “Move on from Ryan. You’re obsessed. Get over it. He had less than 200 yards in last two games.” I have seen many replies fans have made to me about him and to other people.

If you check out Simon Clancy’s replies you will see some of them. Tannehill’s performance shouldn’t be a surprise. We watched Tannehill in 2016 starting to prove that he can be a quarterback that could lead his team to victories, if given an o-line (which we had for a small bit that year) and some weapons around him (like Landry, Ajayi, Parker and Stills). We all fell for the Gase hype that year because a first year coach got the Dolphins’ into the playoffs. We were blinded by the hope for more. However, that soon faded after Gase started letting players walk or trading them away blaming it on “culture” and that is was their fault and nothing to do with him (never trust a coach who takes no blame for failure).

I know Tannehill is no longer a part of our team, and I’m not wishing for us to get him back nor wishing we still had him. I just want some fans to see that he wasn’t to blame for our failure. I think Jeff Darlington sums up my feelings quite well here.

My last bit on Tannehill before I get to my next point. Tannehill went through five offensive coordinators, three head coaches (not to mention two interim coaches), one of the worst o-lines every year, one of the most sacked quarterbacks a couple of those years and not much of a run game. He was set up for failure. Something that was mentioned by Travis Wingfield on his podcast is worth noting as well. Mariota at starting quarterback Derrick Henry had about 3.6yrds per carry. Tannehill as starter and Henry is now averaging about 5.4yrds per carry. So the Titans success is not just because of Henry.

This leads me to my next point.

  • We need to stop blaming a bad season on one particular player and saying, “They’re just not good.” When we first drafted Mike Gesicki in 2018 we had lots of hope for him to come out killing it. It didn’t exactly happen and many fans were quick to dismiss him and call him a wasted draft pick. Several others said the same thing about Kenyan Drake. How are those players doing now under new head coaches? Gesicki had a breakout season.

Even though some fans and Gase were quick to dismiss him, I truly believed he just needed more time/experience and the right coaching. Kenyan Drake is playing like the top RB I believed he would be and I’m sad it’s not with our team. He is one player I wish we could have found a way to keep, but I believe after everything he was just ready for a fresh start. I don’t blame him.

I’ve already said this, but we all have seen DeVante Parker absolutely crushing this season and records. You really can’t ignore how coaching impacted these players success.

  • Lastly, we learned that we need to find our franchise quarterback and build around him and his strengths. Tannehill is playing so well because he is protected by one of the best offensive lines and has a top running back. We have to focus on an offensive line this free agency and in the draft. We need to probably focus on o-line in the 2021 draft too (as well as quarterback if we don’t get Tua or he is too injured or whoever we pick doesn’t pan out). This rebuild is going to take a couple of years.

Other News

Dolphins coaching related, as reported by Cameron Wolfe of ESPN, “Patrick Graham is leaving his role as the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator to take the same role with the New York Giants, a source told ESPN. The Dolphins are planning to promote defensive pass game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer to defensive coordinator to replace Graham.Flores is going to be picking some new coaches going forward.” This, of course, if after the Dolphins already firing O’Shea (OC). I’ve seen several people asking what all this means and what is Flores doing? Well, you guys, clearly nobody knows. Nobody really knows what they are doing. Just as Travis tweeted out yesterday, all we can do is just let Flores do his thing.

Several players have shared how much they respect Flores. I’m going to just wait and see what happens and trust the process. After all, what else is there to do but complain? At least we’re not the Jets.

By the way, last night’s CFP Nation Championship game was fun. I said right before the game, during a podcast, that I thought this game would be close but ultimately the Tigers would pull off the win. I guessed correctly. Congrats LSU on your 42-25 victory over Clemson. If we don’t end up drafting Tua, I wouldn’t be too upset if we went with Isaiah Simmons. The guy can play basically anywhere on the defense it seems.

I’m going to miss football after the Super Bowl, but I’m definitely going to enjoy watching our Dolphins rebuild this team to how it used to be.

The AFC Championship game is this Sunday at 3:05pm ET with the Titans vs the Chiefs and the NFC game will be following at 6:40pm and it’s the Packers vs the 49ers. I’m not sure who I will pick for the winners. I would assume the Chiefs will win, but I also thought the Ravens would win last week. No matter who wins, I believe it will be two very good games. Just imagine if the Titans win. I kinda would love to see Tannehill playing the Super Bowl in Miami. It would be so Dolphins.