Friday, January 22, 2021

Miami Dolphins Risking Everything on Two Unknowns

As the Miami Dolphins begin the 2019 NFL season on record setting pace, two key unkowns will affect the franchise for years to come.

Just two games into the season, the Dolphins are on pace to be the worst team in NFL history. New players are being jettisoned every week, the latest being Minkah Fitzpatrick, with little sign that the team is trying to improve it’s talent base at all.

They’re not looking to pick up young talent from other teams practice squads, or include them in incoming trades. No, the Miami Dolphins are in full-blown tank mode, just like the cross-town Marlins have been for the past 2 seasons. They are actively trying to lose, so it’s no wonder the good players, the professionals, on the roster aren’t happy about it. 

Anyone who pretends these players should be happy and show loyalty to a team that has shown no loyalty this offseason is kidding themselves. You can’t say this is a business, this is the only way to build a team for the future, and expect young men to give up half their careers on the hope that the Dolphins finally have the right GM and coach

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier Is Driving This Tank

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier

Chris Grier has now been the Miami Dolphins GM since the 2016 draft. His record, to say the least, is patchy. But the entire rebuilding of this roster rests on his shoulders. The former scout now has to prove that he can improve his drafting record dramatically.

Of the three players Grier took in the first round prior to 2019, two have been traded away, and the other is Charles Harris. Christian Wilkins is off to a solid start, but it’s too early to evaluate any of the 2019 picks.

His second-round picks were Xavien Howard, Raekwon McMillan, and Mike Gesicki. Howard is one of the best in the league, McMillan is still a work in progress after missing his rookie year with a torn ACL, and Gesicki has been disappointing thus far.

In fact, of Grier’s 23 picks prior to the 2019 draft, only 12 remain on the roster.

Minkah Fitzpatrick was his guy. So if Minkah didn’t want to be part of a tank, or as some fans are claiming, wasn’t a team player, that’s also on Grier. Fair or not, GM’s are responsible for the players they pick.

For those blindly trusting that Grier will make the right decisions, it’s worth remembering that he traded up to take Leonte Carroo in the 2016 draft, a player no longer in the NFL, let alone with the Dolphins. And the Dolphins basically punted the Fitzpatrick pick down the line 2 years.

Brian Flores Has Proven Nothing Yet

Having worked his way up from scouting assistant, to linebackers coach/defensive play-caller, Brian Flores story mirrors in many ways that of cross-town head coach Erik Spoelstra. All of Flores’s experience comes with the New England Patriots, but it’s all at a much lower level than his current role.

In fairness to Brian Flores, he made a positive impact on me during training camp and preseason. He is attempting to bring discipline back into a team that has been suffering from too many sloppy penalties over the last 5-10 years.

His first game was not as impressive, and some of the decisions have been perplexing. Putting Josh Rosen in late in games after Ryan Fitzpatrick has been, well, Ryan Fitzpatrick, seems largely pointless. You can’t judge a QB late in a game where the other team is already up by 30+ points.

Calling two timeouts inside the two-minute warning of the second half, down 59-10 with the Ravens having the ball made no sense. Unless he was hoping they were gonna run the score up further this is just baffling.

And that’s the thing with Flores, no-one knows if he’s going to be any good at this. We have 14 more games to find out. Can he get any improvement from these replacement players that he has to field?

Miami Dolphins HC Brian Flores Needs To Show Progress Over The Season © NFL
Miami Dolphins HC Brian Flores Needs To Show Progress Over The Season © NFL

The Minkah Fitzpatrick situation also reflects on Flores. There were no reports of Minkah being disruptive last season. But this season he didn’t like what the coaches were asking him to do and he didn’t want to learn six different positions. Now you can say he just needs to suck it up, but this is one of the few concrete things we have to judge Flores on.

The loss of arguably the third-best player on defense isn’t something to brush under the carpet, especially when all you get back is a number one pick, and trade down from the first pick in the 4th round, to a middling 5th round pick.

Because make no mistake, he should be being evaluated on improvements, and player relationships, not on results. 

Unless he’s just a patsy brought in to lose 16 games with the worst roster in NFL history and then jettisoned for an experienced coach come the end of the season. I hope not for his sake and the reputation of the franchise that was once so highly regarded.

No More Slogans

At the same time, it’s not the best option to be as extreme as a fanbase. Two seasons ago memes of In Gase We Trust flooded the internet. Last season the fans just wanted him out. Now it’s “trust the process”. Blindly following the latest trend has got us where we are today, and now would be a great time for the fanbase to become more educated, and form their own opinions.

Calling for Flores, or Grier, to be fired after two games is plain silly. We need to evaluate Flores over the whole season before trying to assess whether he is the right man to continue. Grier is clearly going to be given at least two drafts to put together his plan.

I genuinely hope that these guys can pull it off. They are trying something that has never been done in the NFL before. So to blindly follow them and not analyse what they do would be foolhardy at best.

This is going to be a long process, whether you trust it blindly or analyse it. Either way, true fans always support their team through thick and thin. #finsup

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