While Miami Dolphins fans are scouring the internet for seeds of hope, the reality is this franchise has not yet clawed itself out of the mud and doesn’t appear to be breaking out of NFL purgatory any time soon.
Whether Adam Gase is an impact coach or not, this roster is FAR from elite and actually poses more questions regarding talent than a season ago when it won six lousy games.
They lost three impact players across the board, in their best young edge rusher in Olivier Vernon, their top corner in Brent Grimes, and their best runner in Lamar Miller. Replacing that trio is Mario “I’ll Play Hard When the Moment Strikes” Williams, average and overpaid Byron Maxwell, and Arian Foster, who has missed 23 games over the last three seasons and turns 30 in two weeks — the age of steep decline for most backs.
The only possible immediate impactful addition is rookie offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, who was a tremendous value pick for the Dolphins at 13th overall but also no sure thing this season, undergoing a position switch to guard while also adjusting to the speed and size of the pro game.
The worst thing the Dolphins could do is win between six and eight games again, as they have in nine of the last 10 seasons. Vegas appropriately has Miami’s over/under at seven wins in 2016. Even if they somehow found a way to break out of the cycle and into the playoffs as a Wildcard with everything breaking in their direction — health, close wins, Tannehill’s growth, Brady’s death, etc. — it’s not like they will have stumbled upon a sustainable winning formula. It would be an anomaly, one that would still end in pain and handles of empty whiskey.
For NFL sustenance, some combination of an elite quarterback, a slew of impact players on both ends of the ball, and impactful coaching is required. The Dolphins have no checks in any of these boxes.
While Ryan Tannehill may still ascend, his ceiling is blatantly less than elite and closer to above average. His team does not possess the quantity of star players needed to make up for his shortcomings. Gase could be an excellent head coach who gives his squad an inherent Belichickian advantage but the key word is “could.” Never forget the stock of most NFL head coaches is at its highest when 0-0.
So where does that leave us?
Stink the joint up even more than usual.
There’s no blueprint for building a contender but the most efficient way of playing franchise quarterback roulette is to get the top pick and pray. Pray that Deshaun Watson or Brad Kaaya is the next great one. The latter may be 20 years old but he’s actually New Miami Stadium’s best quarterback. (And what kind of name is that, albeit a temporary one? Dolphins Stadium was fine.)
How does one tank in the NFL? It’s difficult obviously with so many players impacting any given week and so many games decided in random fashion but trading some costly veteran talent for picks is a start. Ship off Mike Pouncey. Start Dallas Thomas at center until both Tannehill and Matt Moore are beheaded — I promise it won’t take long. Dig up Pat White’s corpse — our new QB1!
It doesn’t matter how you stink just as long as you stink terribly. One win or less.
But how can you tank in a new, renovated stadium?
That new stadium feel isn’t going to keep fans coming back if the team continues to pump out sludge. The shade and bigger video boards isn’t suddenly going to make fans forget about spending the equivalent of a two-night stay in a five-star hotel so their family can experience this horrifying display of football in person, wasting eight hours of precious weekend on a team that doesn’t deserve a commercial-less speed viewing on DVR.
Sustainable winning is all fans really care about in the end. For Dolphins fans, hope should no longer be in the equation as we’ve been screwed over too many times. Hope is for Browns fans.
Win six to eight games, as they’re expected to do, and they’ll be perpetuating the cycle of suck that has plagued this franchise for the last 12 years.
Tanking and praying is the Dolphins’ best course of action.