When we look back at the long and storied history of the Miami Dolphins, who entered the old AFL in 1966 and became an AFC team after the 1970 merger, I think we would be hard-pressed to find as many time periods as exciting as the one the team, and its fans, find themselves in right now. There were the three consecutive Super Bowl appearances, after the 1971-73 seasons, the two AFC championships in the ’80s, and, of course, the excitement generated by Jimmy Johnson becoming head coach and de facto GM of the team in 1996.
Yet, since bottoming out seven games into the 2019 ‘tear down’ season, the Dolphins have made almost every move brilliantly. There are a couple of beat writers from the South Florida papers whom I correspond with every now and then, and when I spoke to one of them after last Spring’s draft, he and I both agreed that we could not recall any other year, ever, in the team’s history, in which we both wholeheartedly agreed with every single move the Dolphins made. And by that, I’m referring to the moves that were made, at the time they were made; anyone can second guess a free agency acquisition or draft pick six months or a year later. By contrast, during the team’s post-Marino/Jimmy Johnson plummet, there were all kinds of moves that made us want to throw a brick at our TV or computer screen, or take a hammer to our mobile device, mere minutes after it was announced. Thankfully, the team isn’t making those kinds of head-scratching moves nowadays, yet, for the second year in a row, they have a top-five pick in the first round. A smart front office, plus lots of draft capital usually equals future success, and we can only hope that this regime can have even a fraction of the results that other teams in similar situations, like the late 80’s/early 90’s Bills and Cowboys or the Ravens of the early 2000s, were able to have. All three franchises endured some wretched years before using their accumulated draft capital to substantially upgrade their rosters, and all three of them eventually advanced to the Super Bowl.
Of course, in today’s NFL, the Internet and other technology have leveled the playing field to a much greater degree than was the case a few decades ago, and players that in years past flew largely under the radar are known even to many fans, so it’s a lot harder to unearth hidden gems than it used to be. Still, Miami’s front office has already shown that it can find some of those guys, and with four picks in the first two rounds this year, coupled with the rapidly improving talent they already have on the team, good things look to be on the horizon. Add to this the fact that many NFL teams could very well end up having to let good players walk due to a smaller than expected salary cap, and we have the potential for a team that could blast off into the stratosphere in another couple of years. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it quite a few more times: it’s an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan.