You call it tanking, the Dolphins call it rebuilding

You call it tanking, the Dolphins call it rebuilding
Reading Time: 5 minutes.

Buckle up Miami fans, 2019 isn’t going to be pretty. 

Chances are, 2020 is going to be a rough ride as well. 

Winning isn’t a priority for the Dolphins as it currently stands, as the franchise puts itself in a position build to an NFL team that can stop going 7-9, 8-8, 9-7 and start putting together consecutive 10, 11 wins season. 

It’s why Adam Gase, in Stephen Ross’ eyes, had to go. 

If you’ve read the columns, the blogs, the twitter threads, Gase wanted to win now. 

In 2019, Ross wanted someone who was thinking long term. 

Someone who was tired of papering over the cracks and willing to put the man hours in to fix this team. 

“If it takes a year or so, two years, three years, we’re going to be there,” Ross said after the firing of Gase.

It starts at quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill is all but gone. We all know that. Too much time and energy was spent trying to get the best out of him, in the hope he could take the team to the next level. 

And to give him credit, he almost did. That first season under Gase, we saw what a healthy Tannehill could do.

But then he got injured and he struggled to stay healthy. 

So his days as the started in Miami are over. His replacement?

No one knows. If the rumours and stories are to be believed, it won’t be a veteran in free agency. 

Teddy Bridgewater or Nick Foles won’t be deemed as the short-term answer in 2019 because this team isn’t a competent QB away from winning the Super Bowl.

So that leaves you with David Fales, Jake Ruddock or Luke Falk as the current guys on the roster.

Does the front office believe that there is someone in the draft who can come in from Day 1 and lead this roster to glory?

We honestly don’t know yet.

There’s every chance that a quality starter in the form of Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray can have the impact Baker Mayfield had in Cleveland in 2018.

Reason, the roster isn’t as bad as everyone believes it is.

There are some extremely talented players in the Hard Rock Stadium locker room.

They have their long term shut-down corner and left tackle in Xavien Howard and Laremy Tunsil.

In Minkah Fitzpatrick they have a future blue-chip stud.

In Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, Kenyan Drake, Kallen Ballage, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Bobby McCain, Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant they have enough talent to win 8+ games if the coaching staff know what they are doing.

Under Gase and Matt Burke, fans found out the hard way that they didn’t.

So the rebuild is on and it will start in the draft.

As mentioned earlier, Ross wants someone who is thinking long-term.

We heard the stories about how Ross wanted to move back in the 2018 draft and acquire more picks, instead they stayed where they are and took Fitzpatrick.

It wasn’t a bad move as Minkah was an amazing draft pick.

But where this team severely lacks depth, stocking up on picks may have been the better choice.

It certainly will be come April.

Moving back once, if not twice, come Day 1 of draft night could see the team pick up three to four more picks could really transform the franchise.

If the team doesn’t believe that their quarterback of the future is in this draft, taking one at 13 would be counter productive.

Instead, try and pick up an extra first next year and go from there.

For instance, trading 13 for a mid-20s pick and 1st next year.

Then, with that pick, see if you can move back a few spots and pick up an extra second and day 3 pick this year.

Obviously that’s a best case scenario but Ross will want someone who is open to that kind of thinking.

With those picks, if they can hit on a pass rusher, some O-line and a perhaps even more secondary help, the incoming coaching staff will have put in place a team that is a quarterback away from competing.

Obviously, some players will be shown the door.

Free agency will be seen as the chance to dump players, be it via trades or cuts, and any player coming into the building will be value for money.

Andre Branch has been released and Kiko Alonso is the most obvious candidate, to fans, to join him over the next few weeks – there will be others.

Devante Parker has probably played his last down for the franchise. Charles Harris may not get another chance to prove his worth.

Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones may be seen as expendable as the team frees up cap space and gets something, be it late picks, in order to be more flexible when it comes to moving up and down the draft.

However, just because some very good players will be walking out the door, it won’t be to tank.

Brian Flores will not want to come in and lose 16 games in his debut season.

The players in the building won’t want to lose 16 games next season.

Ross will not want a losing culture to develop in Miami.

“Everyone took Steve’s words in the press conference out of context,” Dolphins GM Chris Grier said at the start of the combine. “You’ve been around Steve – he’s a volatile, very competitive person. We’re not trying to lose games. We’re going to do what’s best.

“We’re not trying to tank or lose every game. We’re trying to build it right and see how it plays out.”

Rebuilds don’t need to be complicated.

With the building blocks the Dolphins have, all it takes is hitting home runs in the draft to help the team escape mediocrity.

Look at what the Jaguars became pretty much overnight thanks to some stellar drafting – and that was without a quarterback.

The Colts got Andrew Luck back but the work they did in the draft is what propelled them back into the play-offs.

The Browns had the players, just needed a new coaching staff and to hit with their early picks to make them relevant again.

That’s what the next 12 months will be about – working out what Miami has in the building and what needs to be brought in to turn the franchise around.

Ross will feel he has the long-term staff in place now, the front office to offer that support behind the scenes and the foundation to finally knock the Patriots off their perch – which is ultimately what this is all about.

The AFC East is set for a major shift, if teams can capitalise on the eventual departure of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

The Jets and Bills have a head start. Both have the QB in place, on rookie deals, and a ton of cap space to build a powerhouse over the next few seasons.

Perhaps the thinking from Ross and the next coaching staff is that they want to be standing on top of the pile when the Patriots are in transition, as opposed to fighting for the wildcard scraps – it’s not sustainable long-term.

The rebuild may be long and painful.

It may be quick and easy.

But change is certainly at the doorstep of the Miami Dolphins.

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