By Marc Cox – Miami Dolphins Writer
This is a strange season for the Miami Dolphins. Owner Stephen Ross said as much last December on firing Adam Gase. Gase wants to win now, although a casual glance in the direction of New York may suggest otherwise. The Miami Dolphins, however, were changing direction. For ten years, Miami had not won more than ten games nor fewer than six. That was going to change, and the first step was likely to be win fewer than six. The message was consistent. This a rebuild that may include some pain for longer term gain. Heads were nodded in agreement. At last a plan. All aboard the tank rebuild train.
It is the same as one Friday, dedicating yourself to a new diet and fitness regime that starts on Monday. Yes, I will eat healthily. Yes, I will hit the gym every day and by this time next year I will be rewarded for all my hard work. Sounds good on Friday, doesn’t it? How does it sound on Monday when you are contemplating the amount of spinach required? How does it feel on Tuesday when, muscles aching, you’re back in the gym? Not as much fun is it? Even though you know it will be worth it in the end, the beginning does not feel good.
For Miami, it’s Tuesday. We’ve committed to the plan. We know the long-term benefit and that, in the end, this will be all worth it. But man does it hurt. Even with expectations suitably managed, freed from the tyranny of winning, this is not an altogether enjoyable experience. This is not a demand to abandon the plan. The roster has flaws. Many, many flaws. Guys are going to get beaten in the trenches, beaten underneath, beaten wide and beaten long. That’s fine. However, there are some things that are not fine. What follows is a three-point plan. Not for victory. Philip Rivers and his Chargers team, Melvin Gordon or not, will have too much for Miami. No, this plan is to alleviate the pain and make coming back on Wednesday bearable.
Catch the damn ball
There are 40 seconds left in the half, first down at the Dallas 12 yard line, 4 points down. Quarterback, Josh Rosen from the shotgun spots a wide open Devante Parker. Parker, a former first round pick, in his 5th year after the Dolphins activated his rookie contract option year to pay him $9 million dollars. Given that context, the drop following a short throw by Rosen to his numbers was outside the purview of a rebuild. A rebuild lets you atone for previous free agency splurges in an attempt to make it to the play offs. It does not give carte blanche for the entire team to be forgiven for basic mistakes. Devante. Catch the damn ball. And you, Preston Williams
Don’t drop the damn ball
There are 31 seconds on the half, first down at the Dallas 7 yard line, 4 points. Quarterback, Josh Rosen hands the ball off to running back, Kenyan Drake. Drake, who has been rumoured to be one of the locker room malcontents about both the 2019 season and his usage in the game plan. Given that context, fumbling the ball is outside the purview of a rebuild. A rebuild lets you accumulate draft capital. It does not give carte blanche for the entire team to be forgiven for basic mistakes. Kenyan. Don’t drop the damn ball. And you, Jakeem Grant.
Enough with the excuses
Your quarterback is young, behind a weak offensive-line, learning yet another scheme from yet another coordinator. He had a tough year last year but let’s see what he has. This year could be the making of him. Sound familiar? It should do. These were the things that were said about Ryan Tannehill for seven long years. Always on the brink of a breakout season, always a reason why it didn’t quite happen for him. The truth is, Ryan Tannehill is not going to win a Super Bowl. These are also the things being said about Josh Rosen. If you want a truly great Quarterback, one that will lead you to the top of the mountain, find one that can succeed when things are stacked against them. If your guy needs everything to be perfect then he’s not your guy. The NFL is too brutal of a sport to sustain perfect situations for long. Rosen is in a ‘prove it’ year. That is what he must do. Prove it.
For the rest, to quote any number of NFL players – ‘it is what it is’. It will be good to see the ‘improvement in all areas’ that Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea wisely identified on Tuesday afternoon with the media. But like the Friday night resolutions it comes with a caveat reflected in the prayer of St Augustine – ‘Lord make me chaste – but not yet’.
The Chargers have been unconvincing this year but unconvincing should be enough to take a win back to the West Coast. The Antonio Brown saga has overshadowed pretty much everything this year including the Melvin Gordon psychodrama that has come to an end this week, although not soon enough to play against Miami. Joey Bosa will hope to have more joy in this match-up than against the Texans where he ran into the calibre of left tackle that the Dolphins simply do not possess. Perhaps Miami could trade for that Texans left tackle. What was his name again?
Prediction: Miami 14 Chargers 32.
(Feature Photo – Credit: Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)