Hold Onto Your Butts: the 2020 Dolphins Offseason

*Author's Note: It took a lot of self control not to just title this article "Tua Tua Tua Tua TUA TUA TUA TUA DOLPHINS TUA TUA MIAMI TUA" so I could get as many views as possible. You're all welcome.

Unbelievably, it's that time of year again: my annual descent into madness. Even more unbelievably, the 2019 Miami Dolphins finished the season 5-11. The fact that Brian Flores wasn't even on the short list for Coach of the Year is a grave injustice on par with every Superbowl the *Patriots have ever won. Hot diggity damn, that Week 17 win was just the best, wasn't it?

The Dolphins' 2020 offseason is poised to be one of the most active and significant that the franchise has seen in quite some time. It's the most exciting offseason I can remember, but nonetheless, I'll try to keep this short and it won't be so don't even worry about it. As of this writing (which, admittedly, is early just because I wanted to do it before Free Agency so my speculation can be as baseless as possible), we've got 13 draft picks (with another likely coming via compensatory pick), $94 million in cap space, and 20 in-house free agents, 17 of whom were paid under $1m in 2019.

So as the great philosopher Will.I.Am once asked: Whatcha gonna do with all that junk?

I never like to prognosticate the team's actions, but I always like to make armchair recommendations that never have any real consequence to vaguely suggest that NFL GMs are about as effective as I (a guy who took 30 years to realize that pipe cleaners aren't just used to make children's crafts, but actually clean pipes) am at making personnel decisions.

Kate! We have to go baaaaaack!

I'm capping my look back in time at my theoretical drafts at 3 years since that's how long it usually takes to get a good read on a draft class and because it's already unwieldy and I'm lazy. The following chart shows the hypothetical picks I've made in past offseason articles against the real picks the Dolphins made, an assessment of their success in 2019, and a sometimes very subjective winner between the two.

Me Success (2019) Dolphins Success (2019) Winner
Round 1 Zach Cunningham, LB (HOU) 142 tks Charles Harris, DE None Me
Round 2 Demarcus Walker, DE (DEN) 4 sacks Raekwon McMillan, LB Excellent run stopper and leader Dolphins
Round 3 Eddie Vanderdoes, DT (HOU) 8 tks Cordrea Tankersley, CB Solid rookie year, then injured Tie
Round 5 Kyle Fuller, C (SEA) Backup G Davon Godchaux, DT 75 tks, 2 sacks; building block Dolphins
Round 5 Stacy Coley, WR (XFL) None Isaac Asiata, G None; retired Tie
Round 6 Jalen Myrick, S (XFL) None Vincent Taylor, DT 6 tks for BUF Tie
Round 7 Sefo Liufau, QB (Retired) None Isaiah Ford, WR 244 yds and a growing role Dolphins
Round 1 Roquan Smith, LB (CHI) 101 tks, 2 sacks Minkah Fitzpatrick, S 6th in DPOY voting, but for PIT Me
Round 2 Marcus Allen, S (PIT) Backup S Mike Gesicki, TE 570 yds, 5 TDs Dolphins
Round 3 Sony Michel, RB (NE) 912 yds, 7 TDs Jerome Baker, LB 126 tks, 1.5 sacks Me
Round 4 Adam Breneman, TE None Kalen Ballage, RB Record setting badness Tie
Round 4 Straight Nobody None Durham Smythe, TE Blocking TE with 65 yds N/A
Round 6 Tanner Lee, QB (FA) None Cornell Armstrong, CB 4 tks with HOU Tie
Round 7 Bradley Bozeman, C (BAL) Starting LG Jason Sanders, K Mountaineer Shot Tie
Round 7 DaeSean Hamilton, WR (DEN) 297 yds, 1 TD Quentin Poling, LB None Me
Round 1 Christian Wilkins, DT (MIA) 56 tks, 2 sacks Christian Wilkins, DT 2 PBU; building block True Tie
Round 2 Amani Oruwariye, CB (DET) 19 tks, 3 INT Josh Rosen via Trade Not much Me
Round 3 Beau Benzschawel, G (DET) Rotational G Michael Deiter, G Starting-ish G Tie
Round 4 Ross Pierschbacher, G (WAS) Rotational C Andrew Van Ginkel On the rise after IR Tie
Round 5 Stanley Morgan, WR (CIN) 18 yds Isaiah Prince Cut and picked up by CIN Me
Round 6 DeMarcus Christmas (SEA) PUP Myles Gaskin 133 yds, 1 TD Dolphins
Round 7 Jordan Ta'Amu (XFL) None Chandler Cox Blocks sometimes Dolphins

EgregiousPhilbin vs. Miami Dolphins Draft Records

2017: 1-3-3
2018: 3-2-2 with one N/A
2019: 2-2-3

Debatably, I'm 1-1-1 in 3 years, but not by much, and, again, it was decades until I understood The Count on Sesame Street isn't just a vampire, he also literally counts stuff.

I do this to illustrate not only how much fun one can have when they have nothing but free time and no life goals, but also as a brief point about tanking. The draft is like throwing darts at balloons at the county fair. Sure, the first overall pick can be a franchise changer (Peyton Manning), but it can also just be a good to great contributer (Jake Long, Eric Fisher, Jadeveon Clowney) and sometimes it's a complete waste (JaMarcus Russell).

Teams that are bad, like truly really actually very bad, like the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns, don't turn their franchises around based on one player. The 2008 Lions took Matt Stafford at 1.1 and improved to 2-14. The 2017 Browns took Baker Mayfield first overall and improved to 7-8-1. Not exactly turning on a dime. You have to build a house with the foundation first and a 5-11 season with a talent deficient roster is a far better foundation than an 0-16 one with the same group. Joe Burrow might be the second coming and he might be a JAG. Tua could be a 20 year savior or a first year retiree. The reality is that no one knows and, even if they're right (like with Andrew Luck), the second coming may not be enough to drag a team, kicking and screaming, to victory all by himself (like with Andrew Luck).

It's far more important to have a coaching staff that can adjust their strategy to fit their players, motivate them to grow, utilize their strengths, and build chemistry, cohesion, and a winning attitude. For the first time in a long time, it appears the Dolphins might have that.

The Shape of Things to Come

With so much freedom, what to do, what to do. The recent firing of Chad O'Shea and hiring of Chan Gailey gives us a little direction.

I see the hiring as 3 pronged:

1) Gailey has familiarity with Fitz and can help bridge from him to a new QB (regardless of when that QB arrives).
2) The spread, if that's the way we go, is an easier system for a future QB to start with and is similar to what a lot of college QBs run.
3) Gailey is an experienced OC on a young staff. Like with Sean McVay and Wade Phillips (prior to his needless firing), there's something to be said for blending youth and experience.

Factoring in these bits of info, we can determine a few offseason goals:

- Shore up the OL because the spread will ask more of them and they are currently a hate crime
- Generate a pass rush because it was as effective as treating your sunburn with a cheese grater
- Lock down the secondary, especially if X ends up being human garbage (reserving judgment for now, but it's never a good look)
- Decide our strategy at QB and find someone to implement it

As painful as it might get, I guess we should talk about the QB question. I separate it into two possible approaches:

Option 1: Drop back pocket passer (Brady, Brees, Ryan)
This style is the more traditional quarterback, but often requires a more complete team, a well oiled system, or both.

Draftees that fit are Burrow, Tua, Herbert, Fromm, Eason, Stanley, Gordon

Option 2: Mobile dual-threat (Jackson, Watson, Wilson)
This style can improvise more effectively and add a running element, but can also require a tailored system and carry a higher risk of injury.

Draftees that fit are Love, Hurts, Newman, Ehlinger, Mond

Ultimately I think either QB style can eventually work. It really comes down to what they think will be effective against NFL defenses long term. Lamar Jackson is having great success now, but Baltimore has the top run offense and a stout defense. The coaching staff tailored the offense to his strengths (as they should) and he's taken off. Defenses might come up with something to consistently stop him, they might not. All I know is that if you plopped him in Miami instead of Baltimore on draft day, I don't think he's anywhere near the MVP conversation. Point being, it's really hard to find a Superman, but there are plenty of capable Clark Kents out there who can run your offense, if you put them in a position to succeed.

If they opt for a pocket passer not named Josh Rosen, Burrow's the guy (a few mocks have me getting him at 1.18, but that's gibberish), but won't be available. As good as Tua is, I worry about his injury enough to drop him down my board. If the Dolphins take him, I won't rage. But in my simulation, I'm led to Jake Fromm, who I like for his poise, experience, and time in a system that requires him to read the defense. Plus, he can be had later in the draft, allowing us to go BPA earlier. If they go dual threat, I prefer Love to the rest.

Live Together Die Alone

Resigning our pending free agents is a pretty easy task this offseason in the sense that there aren't big names demanding huge contracts. Everyone can be had affordably and even more money can be freed up by making a few cuts. WR is the position I struggled with most because I'd be happy if Albert Wilson came back at a lower value and if Jakeem Grant stuck around. But for the sake of shakeups, I'm leaving them both out.

Let Walk:
Aqib Talib, J'Marcus Webb, John Jenkins, Clive Walford, Deon Lacey, Ricardo Louis, Samaje Perine, Trevor Davis, Chase Allen, Kendrick Norton, Evan Brown

Evan Boehm, Walt Aikens, Mike Hull, Vince Biegel, Adrien Colbert, Taybor Denney, Isaiah Ford, Matt Haack, Trent Harris

Reshad Jones, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, Kalen Ballage, Sam Eguavon

Not Penny's Boat

My free agency philosophy is always the same: buy the best young players at the cheapeast positions (interior OL, LB, RB) and don't sign huge back loaded deals that kick the cap down the line and smother the team like the pillow you're holding over your husband's face right now. And don't forget: we have $94 million in cap space. That's stupid! We can afford to front load every contract so that if we swing and miss on anyone, we can atone for that mistake without taking on lots of dead money. Plus, we can be a little splurgy and grab one or two big players. I'm not advocating signing every free agent listed, but below are some targets that should fit our scheme and improve some of our many deficiencies. With so much cap room, I didn't even bother calculating potential contracts because we can straight make it rain in this piece.

Quarterback: None
Running Back: Carlos Hyde
Or: Jordan Howard, Austin Ekeler, Matt Breida
Tight End: *Mo Alie-Cox or Blake Jarwin
Wide Receiver: Randall Cobb or Chester Rogers
Offensive Line: *RT Jack Conklin and G Brandon Scherff
Or: RT Germain Ifedi, *G Andrus Peat
Defensive Line: *Yannick Ngakoue
Or: Leonard Williams, Carl Nassib
Outside Linebacker: *Vic Beasley
Or: Bud Dupree, Markus Golden, Jamie Collins
Cornerback: Byron Jones
Or: Ronald Darby, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hilton, Grant Haley
Free Safety: HaHa Clinton-Dix
Or: Justin Simmons, Jordan Lucas

4 8 15 16 23 42

My draft philosphy works in tandem with how I look at free agents. When drafting, seek the best players at expensive positions earlier (CB, OT, DE, QB). Once we do that, we can go BPA for a metric shitload of picks.

As always, I use FanSpeak to simulate the draft, no trades for simplicity, and a random cross section of big boards over 10+ drafts to get a reasonable understanding of who the 'experts' (HAH) think should be available at each spot. Of course, by the time the real draft rolls around, half of these guys will be gone 3 rounds earlier and the other half won't get drafted at all. But hey, that's half the fun.

1.5 - Jeff Okudah, CB Ohio State
1.18 - Josh Jones, OT Houston
1.26 - Yetur Gross-Matos, DE Penn State
2.7 - Jake Fromm, QB Georgia
2.24 - D'Andre Swift, RB Georgia
3.6 - John Simpson, G Clemson
4.39 - Antoine Brooks, Jr., S Maryland
5.16 - Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR Liberty
5.27 - Cam Brown, LB Penn State
6.6 - A.J. Green, CB Oklahoma State
6.18 - Chauncey Rivers, DE Mississipi State
6.23 - J.R. Reed, S Georgia
7.32 - Isaiah Wright, WR Temple

Destiny Found

2020 Dolphins Depth Chart
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Josh Rosen Jake Fromm
FB Chandler Cox
RB D'Andre Swift Patrick Laird Myles Gaskin
LT Josh Jones Julie'n Davenport
LG Michael Deiter
C Evan Boehm John Simpson
RG Andrus Peat Shaq Calhoun
RT Jack Conklin Jesse Davis
TE Mike Gesicki Mo Alie-Cox Durham Smythe
WR DeVante Parker Preston Williams Allen Hurns Isaiah Ford Antonio Gandy-Golden Isaiah Wright
DE Yannick Ngakoue Yetur Gross-Matos Trent Harris Chauncey Rivers
DT Christian Wilkins Davon Godchaux
MLB Raekwon McMillan Mike Hull Cam Brown Terrill Hanks
OLB Vic Beasley Jerome Baker Vince Biegel Andrew Van Ginkel
CB Xavien Howard Jeff Okudah Bobby McCain Nik Needham Cordrea Tankersley A.J. Green
FS Antoine Brooks Walk Aikens
SS Eric Rowe Adrien Colbert J.R. Reed
K Jason Sanders
P Matt Haack
LS John Denney

No matter what the Dolphins do in 2020, as of this moment I've put my trust in the coaching staff and I've got some hope. It feels like the team finally has a path and now we're off to get the players who can take us down it.

"A leader can't lead til he knows where he's going." --John Locke, the LOST character, not the philospher.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.