Have you ever heard the line about trusting the process? I mean you are reading a football blog, dedicated to one team, which is run by fans, so obviously you have heard that clichéd old line. As I have mentioned in this space before though, these things work their way into the vernacular for a reason, they are usually true in some way. The Miami Dolphins have a process, finally, and they trust it.
Many fans are breathing heavy with fear about injury. The stalled starts by DeVante Parker and Branden Albert, the season long loss of Louis Delmas, the concussion to Albert’s backup Jason Fox, and the sure knowledge that if something happens to Ryan Tannehill the season is over before it begins have sent many into a panic.
The Dolphins, to their credit, have barely reacted at all. They have installed a program that is based around internal growth and development. They have created a process for filling in those holes and now they are seeing the dividends.
It is important to trust the process, especially if you are going to invest in expensive players to mix into your homegrown youth. I know the malleable nature of the NBA salary cap or the non-existence of one in baseball gives many, mostly casual, fans a sense that the NFL works in a similar way, but it does not. The NFL operates with a hard cap. Simply put, your team must operate under that cap, there are no other options.
There is however one way to create more space the following year. That is to rollover any unused cap from the season prior. Which is what the Dolphins must do with the almost $11 Million dollars they are currently under the cap and why they should consider cutting Zack Bowman and C.J. Mosley as well. That would bring their rollover to almost $13 Million and leave them operating just under the projected $152 Million cap once the rollover is adjusted in and the Rookie holds are accounted for in 2016.
Thinking about the future is part of the process. Which is why Dallas Thomas, if he really is the best option at Left Tackle will play as the blindside protector for Ryan Tannehill. Does this represent a slightly higher, though impossible to predict, chance that Tannehill will take a hit? Sure, let’s say it does, it also represents the last real chance for the starters to practice at full speed against other starters.
If you don’t think walking through most parts of any production, at least once, is important then I have no arguments that will sway you. However, if you can see the value in making sure the communication lines are clear, that protocols are clear, that you are making the most efficient use of that 15 minutes between halves, or seeing your starters run a 4 or 2 minute offense. Well, that is preparing for the future.
The process can only work if you stick to it. This is of course true of any process, any system, maybe your core operation can sustain one or two deviations, but if you are always tinkering with it, it breaks down. Breaking down, isn’t that something that the Dolphins have done enough times in the last decade plus almost another decade. In any of that time you never heard about cheap ownership, just about the flawed teams and team constructions.
Looking back though it seems that, for a lot of those years since Shula left, there was a lack of process or vision. Right now, the team you are looking at is the product of two offseasons of Dennis Hickey’s process and, like it or not it, is coalescing into the vision we first heard about when Joe Philbin arrived 4 years ago. A mobile QB who can make all the throws, a 6 deep receiver group, a zone blocking offensive line, and a defense that is/will be stocked with young talented players. While maybe not all of those things are filled perfectly, they are headed in that direction.
Do you know why I feel actually good about this season? Not like last season where I knew they were not ready yet, but wanted them to be. I thought they were a 9-7 team, I said so, but I predicted 11-5, because I write for a Fan Blog and this is for fun. No what I feel is nothing like that. I am not hoping for anything this season.
I have expectations, not of the record or even the playoffs, if you recall the last time Miami went New England did not, with an 11-5 record. I just don’t look at any game this season and shrug it off, like we all did last year at Denver, a game they should have won.
I expect the Miami Dolphins to beat the teams they are supposed to, then I expect them to win most of the coin flips, and finally I expect them to be in with a chance to win every game against favorites. I have these expectations because I see the process unfolding and the results are encouraging, the possibilities are exciting.
For Dolphins fans it is not the silliness of a whose better, Ryan Tannehill or Andrew Luck, debate. It is that somehow that debate made its way into the national conversation. If that does not represent a massive change in the way the media is beginning to view this team, I am not sure what it signs you are looking for.
The process dictates that Tannehill plays tomorrow. It mandates that the team was never signing Evan Mathis. It allows for DeVante Parker to be ready for the regular season. It has set this team up to be in the best condition it has been in for many years. The process has put the 2015 team in a position for success and it has done so without mortgaging the future.
This column was written by Ryan Winters. Follow him on Twitter: @WintersNFL
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