By: Jason Sarney
An American treasure that we lost this week once said, “You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.”
The late, Great, Kenny Rodgers passed away earlier this week and the Country Legend’s most famous song correlates very well to the Miami Dolphin's off-season at the moment. After a year of staking chips and a week of bringing in even more assets, the Miami Dolphins are ready for the month that is leading up to the big event that they have been waiting for.
The Gambler, in this case, is Chris Grier. The hand the Miami General Manager was dealt when the smoke cleared after a 5-win season in 2019 was essentially like a 2-6 off-suit, if we are speaking Mr. Rodger’s language of poker.
Grier, who threw in hands that never led to a winning pot like Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kiko Alonzo, Kenyan Drake and Kenny Stills, has been grinding this session of Hold’em as if he were “Kinish” in the legendary movie, Rounders. For the uninitiated to one of Matt Damon’s gems of a film, “Joey Kinish” was a character who literally made a living grinding out money through winning hands of poker.
The NFL is not poker, but it is certainly similar in mindset and strategy, as well as patience, preparation and planning. Chris Grier is not dealing with actual chips here but the virtual cards dealt to the teams around him at the table will dictate what he is able to do with his cards.
Back to the 2-6 off-suit.
As the chip-leader in the 2020 draft, Grier has the luxury of being the bully at the table. Meaning, he could bluff, raise, re-raise and essentially control the table or board of the NFL Draft.
Most players would fold’em, if they were looking at that 2-6 off-suit to open betting, as many aren’t willing to grind it out and risk a flop to start things off.
Worse yet would be to slow-play the hand, and even have a card thrown on 4th street that remarkably helps another team at the table and flushes you out. And then, as the stress mounts, you may have to swim through a potentially murky river of useless cards while losing precious chips. Remember, in this example, the Ace up the sleeve doesn’t help you here in this particular case.
What any savvy player would do in Grier’s case, would control the pot. Control the board and dictate the moves. We all know what he is holding from a pick standpoint. 14 picks in 2020 and 9 in 2021. Call the 2021 the chip reserves in his pocket that he’d prefer to not reach for, but in a pinch, they are there for him.
Grier must play his hand precisely right and at the same time, he needs the right cards to fall in the appropriate order.
What are the odds he lands a 3-4-5 on the flop? Not good.
So, the odds of a standard draw of 1-2-3-4 in terms of players selected before Miami at #5 are very low to land the Ace that can lead to high-percentage winning hands every time they play ball. In actuality, the odds of four players taken, mixed with no trade ups from other teams, as well as say, Tua Tagovailoa just sitting there at #5 are basically the same as expecting to hit your straight right off the bat.
What Grier must do, is eliminate the competition by using his chips, raising and re-raising until other players on those teams, the General Managers, simply know when to Fold’em.
As the clear chip leader, Grier as the opportunity to stare down four other teams at the table, and simply push more chips in to secure his hand, and that could even mean wining it before seeing the other cards.
There must be a trade up to the Top 3 if the Miami Dolphins will land a Top 2 quarterback in the 2020 Draft. If that is their intention, and the Franchise savior at QB is sitting and waiting for them this season, then chips must be pushed in. And they must be pushed in early, a few weeks (or cards) before the hand is complete on April 23rd-25th.
The Miami GM, who has been grinding it out as a satellite player in the Miami Front Office for 20-years, is ready for the Main Table. It’s the World Series of NFL Drafts in 2020, and ironic as this piece and life itself is, we all should have been in Las Vegas to see it unfold.
Regardless of what the other 31 competitors are planning with their hands, the Miami Dolphins will walk taller the next few weeks than most. Much like a person with several bracelets from past successes and victories, Grier and the Miami Dolphins are looking for their first collaborative “score.”
If they play their cards exactly right, and the chips fall where they may, in April, September through February can sooner than later can get Miami that bracelet.
Although in the NFL, they don’t shoot for bracelets.
They grind it out, each and every day of the year…for a ring.
Follow Jason on Twitter @Jason_Sarney