There's always a certain amount of gambling involved when building a team. Research is done, film is watched, rewatched and then re-rewatched, teams do everything they can possibly do to make sure they get that sure thing.
But in the end, all it amounts to is a slightly higher chance of making a good bet.
Now I am not a gambling man myself, but I know many people who are and a lot of them take what the oddsmakers say very seriously, as they could hold the key to a big payday if they make the right bet.
As of right now, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas give the Miami Dolphins a 66 to 1 chance to win the Super Bowl, that's 25th out of 32 teams in the NFL. Not exactly favorable odds, and it's a justified stance to take.
On paper, Miami has lost a lot of sure talent on both sides of the ball. Olivier Vernon moved on and took a huge deal with the New York Giants, Lamar Miller got fed up with not having the ball in his hands and went to be the feature back with the Houston Texans.
The Dolphins released their best starting cornerback since Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain in part because of the drama and headaches caused by his wife. Brent Grimes has since landed a little farther northwest and now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Folks can argue the rightness or wrongness of these moves until the end of time (and they undoubtedly will), but the fact remains that Miami either moved on from or forcibly removed established talent and replaced it with...what exactly?
Miami's new Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum has a history of going all in and hoping it pays off, at least in the short term. From 2009 to 2010, the New York Jets - with Tannenbaum as their general manager - made it to two straight AFC Championship games with Rex Ryan as their head coach and Mark Sanchez as their quarterback.
To get that far, someone must have been doing something right. I'll wait for you all to decide who.
The gamble paid off, but press your luck for too long, and you will eventually hit a whammy. The Jets began to fall apart at the seams and Tannenbaum was fired after several draft picks fell through and the salary cap put the franchise in a terrible position for years to come.
Now the Miami Dolphins are putting all their chips on the table in hopes of creating a great 2016 and potentially a great future, but the hand they're playing is shaky, both figuratively and literally.
Many of the players Miami has brought in to supplement the roster since the recent talent drain are huge gambles for one reason or another, and depending on whether they hit or miss, the Dolphins season could either be one of the biggest turnarounds in recent history, or a sudden nosedive towards the darkness that franchises like the Cleveland Browns have been trying to escape from.
Miami traded the 8th overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for their 13th overall pick and two players: cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Here, they gambled that they could still get a great player after trading down in the draft, and Maxwell would return to the form he had in Seattle and Alonso would recover from his injury and become rookie of the year material all over again.
"We got (LB) Kiko (Alonso) and we got (CB Byron) Maxwell." Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said recently. "That’s two penciled in starters."
It's good to see Joseph feels that those two players can fill the void left behind by previous departures, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a huge gamble to count on things working out.
Win the bet, Miami manages to fill the void left by Brent Grimes and potentially solve their linebacker problems at last. Lose the bet, Miami created a whole new hole at cornerback that still needs filling and linebacker remains an issue.
Speaking of the 13th overall pick, on the surface it appears Miami gambled and won big when Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil fell right in their laps. One of the most talented left tackle prospects to come out in recent history, but now Miami is gambling that all the concerns surrounding Tunsil are unfounded, and also that his body will hold up as he's had injury history in college.
Win the bet, Miami has fixed the left guard spot for 2016 and also drafted the man who will eventually replace Branden Albert as the franchise left tackle and will protect Miami's QB for the next ten years. Lose the bet, Tunsil turns into another Jake Long and begins to fall apart after a few years, or worse, he gets suspended because he wasn't able to stay clean.
The list of bets on the table goes on and on. Much of Miami's talent currently consists of players who are coming off of devastating injuries and are trying to come back to form, players who are barely out of college and are still trying to learn the ropes of the NFL, or players who are question marks because there's still no clear indication of what they're really capable of.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be under his third head coach going into his fifth year in the NFL, and even now there are still big questions regarding what the former Texas A&M QB's ceiling really is. Miami gambled and gave him a 4-year extension worth $77 million, and it's yet to be determined whether that gamble will pay off in the long run.
The entirety of the Dolphins offseason has been spent making bets on players that could either win them the ultimate prize, or crash and burn and break the bank and the team. If cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu works out, Miami will have found an excellent slot corner for the next several years. If Tony Lippett develops into an NFL cornerback, the next several years could be set at that position.
If Ryan Tannehill takes the next step...
If Jay Ajayi can stay healthy...
If Cameron Wake can come back to form...
If Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh, DeVante Parker...
If even half of these mentioned gambles turn out to be busts, the Miami Dolphins could find themselves set back for even longer than what was originally pictured, and that was already a significant amount of time. There's more riding on this season than one might think.
The expectations for the Dolphins 2016 season are understandably - and rightfully - low, but whether Miami wins more games than they lose isn't the biggest thing at stake here. By playing the cards in their hand, Miami is betting their future. Either they'll hit the jackpot and set themselves up for great success in the future, or they'll lose out and find themselves with more holes than they had going into this year's offseason, and further prolonging the rebuilding process.
Whether the impression is that they're already rebuilding or they're trying to win now, it doesn't change the fact that the way the Dolphins have done things this offseason shows that the organization is going all in, betting on themselves.
The results of 2016 will determine whether they won or lost that bet.
This column was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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