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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
So much for my football hiatus. Just like Michael Corleone, when I thought I was out the Dolphins pull me back in. We are two games into a weird season and the results are not good. If you're riding the excuses train I suggest you stop reading at this point.
Plenty of teams overcome slow starts and have successful seasons. But for those trying to compare this version of the Dolphins to last year, or even Adam Gase's 2016 squad, I don't think this is the hill you want to die on by screaming "Patience!". Last year Chris Grier took a moderately priced sedan and stripped it down to the frame. He then asked Brian Flores to drive it through a 16 game season thinking Miami could secure the 1st overall pick for Tua Tagovailoa. I respected Flores giving the brass the double bird and winning five games. Those wins plus Tua's injury must have had Grier channeling Chevy Chase when he punched Wally the Moose's nose upon realizing the park was closed after a grueling odyssey in Vacation. This year Grier purchased the decent sedan and opted for a sun roof, shiny rims and a few extra bells and whistles to improve the journey. Well...
I don't need to rehash the details of the big free agent contracts. You guys can read them in any article from a local Miami paper. We all know Miami spent a pretty penny on the likes of Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah. Top 15 pick Christian Wilkins is back along with big money Xavien Howard, stat piler Jerome Baker and overachievers like Bobby McCain, Eric Rowe and Nik Needham. This isn't a defense starting UDFAs and 7th Round castoffs like last year. They are a lucky fumble away from giving up an average of 30 points per game. You cannot counter with hypotheticals about an injured player being why they lost to Buffalo. The Patriots had several key defensive players opt out of the season and Buffalo was missing two impact starters on Sunday. This defense has no excuse for looking like a dumpster fire two weeks in a row. They should at least be a top 20 unit given the money and draft picks spent to address it the last two seasons. Top 20 is not a compliment by the way.
On the offensive side of the ball you can make similar arguments. Miami drafted a 1st Round left tackle in Austin Jackson, gave big money to guard Ereck Flowers, acquired decent running backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, and have some very talented guys like Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker catching passes. Ryan Fitzpatrick is who he is and while I admire his work ethic and energy it loses its luster when he becomes the infamous Fitztragic. He'll get lucky and carve up an arrogant defense from time to time, but defensive coordinators have notes as thick as War and Peace on how to game plan for him. Why are they asking him to throw Miami to victory? History proves he cannot consistently do that. This offense needs an identity because they can no longer parade around as a merry band of misfits. There is too much talent to waste this season. Either commit to the run and grind teams out, or hand the keys to Tua and see if he can maximize the talent around him. We've watched his peers Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert exceed expectations with similar surrounding casts.
As for the coaches, I am tired of the cliches. Look, I can't call a play for a team of six year old flag football kids. I'd dial up go routes while my 4 ft tall QB gets two feet of distance on his throws. I realize Brian Flores, Chan Gailey and Josh Boyer are intelligent guys who see things none of us could decipher. But I don't want to hear "It starts with me. I need to do a better job preparing our team." Then the QB says, "It starts with me. I need to make the throws." And then we get every player saying, "It starts with us, we need to execute." We get it guys, you've mastered the art of saying nothing in interviews. You go 16-0 in that department every season. But it doesn't fly this year. You have talent to optimize. You've been through the same abbreviated offseason as every other team. You have guys logging significant snaps who played in Miami last season so spare me the not gelling argument. You have veteran additions who played at high levels on winning teams. You're going to continually say these redundant remarks and before Thanksgiving the playoffs will be out of reach.
I don't blame anyone who doesn't have a shred of excitement after what we have watched so far. We've been spoon fed hope and patience since Mike Tannenbaum made way for Grier and Brian Flores was hired. Culture, hard work, discipline, yadda yadda yadda. We've heard it before. After two weeks this looks like the same inconsistent product we have witnessed for 20 years. At it's current pace they could be staring down a 1-7 or 2-6 start. Unacceptable. Something has to improve in a timely fashion. Banking on cupcake victories over cream puff opponents or claiming moral victories only masks the true identity of a bad team. This should not be a bad team given the resources spent to assemble the roster. Miami needs quality wins in the not too distant future to change the narrative. It is not time to panic, however in my opinion this team no longer as the luxury of excuses or patience if the losses begin to pile up.