The Dolphins have come a long way from when the last game of the NFL season ended to where we are now. For the first time in Ross's career as the Miami Dolphins owner, he decided that the organization's future was more important than his relationships with a defeated Adam Gase and especially Mike Tannenbaum. This was interesting in the sense of how often during his tenure Ross would stay loyal one season too long. So kuddos to you Mr. Ross. You made a big boy decision to fix a decision you shouldn't have made in the first place. Kuddos and a golf clap to you.
Then Ross promoted Chris Grier to be "The" voice in the Dolphins organization and the only individual to have his ear of influence. This initially worried me because Grier was a body that sat in the middle of the storm of disfunction caused by tension between egos. But Grier has shown that he has a basic understanding of how he wants a team built with his staff signings of Brian Flores and Marvin Allen (Assistant GM). It remains to be seen if it will translate into success, but Ill give you a tentative gold star until we see more. But this column is to let you know, Mr. Ross, that your job is far from over.
You have done a lot for this organization and have sacrificed millions of dollars to rebuild the fan experience for Dolfans at the stadium as well as your advocacy for social justice and change. You have allowed for individuals to run the team how they have wanted and all we have received is 2 playoff appearances during your ownership tenure, no playoff wins, regime turnovers approximately every 3 years, and egos clashing that lead to turmoil within your organization. This is unacceptable and its time to step up and be the owner you need to be.
Dolphins fans don't care how much you trust the people you have in place right now. There should be expectations that the offensive line be the immediate focus for this football team. The position has been neglected for so long and the only vocal common denominator from those destructive regimes that remains is you. Dolfans are fed up with watching our quarterbacks take hits consistently and needing to rationalize poor play on such a glaring need. Its unacceptable and it needs to stop. NOW.
The very next demand as the owner of this organization should be to address the quarterback situation. I can care less if it is Ryan Tannenhill for the next season or not. But I want to make it very clear...If he is not the answer, do something about it! Draft a quarterback that either competes or has the tools to be that franchise quarterback. And if he is, then get the man an offensive line and supporting cast. I truly do not care where you go, but regardless of what the decision is, the time to make changes is now.
Mr. Ross, you have built several relationships with men who have dedicated their time and body to this organization (Such as Kiko, Wake, and more). I get that, and your emotions and connections with individuals have led us to this crossroad. There will be difficult decisions that you may (or should) sign off on that will hurt in the short term, but pay off in the long term. This is not a New York style business where you can delegate heavy decisions to your closest allies. The emotional and difficult decisions you make today will effect this team for the next 2-3 years (For proof just look back at the decisions made 2-3 years ago and see how many of those paid off vs which didn't).
I do believe that Mr. Ross has it in him to lead this franchise into a tenure of consistency and winning. He has made good decisions so far this offseason, but that can all go away with one bad decision. I know that no matter what Miami Dolphins fans say, Ross will do what he wants regardless because it is his team, as he should. I am not an angry Dolfan, but a Dolfan who writes this column as a filter and microphone to other Dolfans who are fed up. Dolfans want to stop following the team, are arguing with one another, and are stuck holding on to golden days of Marino, the 72 Dolphins, and more to rationalize their dedication to your team. DolFans have spoken and we await your action Mr. Ross...not just your words.
This story was written by Carlos Camacho. Follow him on Twitter: @DolfansVoice
In a league that is full of offensive firepower and weapons, the Adam Gase led Miami Dolphins attempted to follow the trend. Gase attempted to replicate the success and potency of that historic Broncos offense, but failed. What threw more salt in the wound was watching teams like the Chiefs, Rams, and Saints succeed while being led by their respective quarterbacks. Now I know that Dolfans will read this and go straight to the "Dolphins/Tannenhill failed the other" conversation but I'm asking that you look deeper. I'm here to talk about where the Dolphins are heading and what they will need to succeed in the future.
I'm talking about franchise quarterbacks.
When someone says franchise QB, it can truly mean a number of things. Does it mean that they have to be "Elite" like Brady or Rodgers? Does it mean that they have to be a 1st round blue chipper like Haskins, Murray, and the 2020 class? Does it mean Superbowl/playoff success? How about regular season wins? I'm sure you catch my point...So this begs the question, what does "Franchise QB" mean for the Miami Dolphins? Lets take a look.
Of course Miami would enjoy having an elite quarterback and probably will strive to do so somewhere in the next few drafts. But lets be honest, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers are not going to walk in the door out of nowhere. So lets move on from that thought.
Drafting a quarterback is realistic and provides (For the most part) optimism and hope for an organization. But just drafting a QB, even in the 1st round, does not make a player a franchise quarterback. For as many Dan Marinos and Peyton Mannings there have been Ryan Leafs and Jamarcus Russells in the world. Which leads us to my main point...
The Miami Dolphin's best/quickest chance to win consistently is to run an offense centered around a system based quarterback.
Now I am identifying this as a bare minimum for the Fins. I look around the league and I have seen guys like Jered Goff, Eli Manning,and Joe Flacco go to (And in Manning and Flacco's case win) Superbowls. Hell there are some people in social media world who would argue that Brady is a result of the system he plays in (I don't agree but to each their own). We have seen guys struggle in systems after being considered a franchise quarterback, such as Kirk Cousins going from Washington to Minnesota. We have seen individuals who could be successful franchise quarterbacks but have been let down by the system's flaws and/or their skillset not blending with the system (Ryan Tannenhill anyone?) It is not necessarily a bad thing for the Dolphins to find someone whos skill set can run Flores' offense that isnt considered a top tier quarterback.
Now one could argue that Miami has that system's based quarterback in Tannenhill, and that they let him down due to the pieces that are surrounded him (most notably the offensive line). Its true, maybe (I don't believe so) Ryan can be the system QB for Flores and the offense he dreams of running. But running the system is not only X and Os, its about the surrounding parts. And under failed regimes, that's where Miami has to make the biggest improvement, not at quarterback. Having solidified personnel will make finding a franchise quarterback (Elite or systems) easier and allow for more risk taking (Like drafting a stud rookie or trading up for one). This practice was successfully performed in Kansas City.
The Dolphins have the blueprint of how to win. They want to be physical in the trenches, have players do their jobs, and be versatile. If we stumble upon an "Elite" quarterback by luck (Because that's the only way it would truly happen) then so be it. But Miami should truly focus on rebuilding the supporting cast on offense and a defense that can produce on the road no matter the environment , weather, and etc. It is easier said than done but that is the task Chris Grier and the Dolphins have. Flores is tasked with creating a system that is sustainable as a unit, and not relying on one person to make things happen like the Fins have in the past. And the Dolphins need a system based franchise quarterback.
This story was written by Carlos Camacho. Follow him on Twitter: @DolfansVoice
Remember the last time the Miami Dolphins traded for the local guy? Remember the pain of a 2nd round pick just at the cost of ticket sales? Remember when team doctors said the other guys shoulder wasn’t attached? That Culpepper/Brees mess still haunts us all. I know the fans in Miami are waiting in excitement to see if their hometown guy Antonio Brown will beat the Vegas odds of +5000 and come home. (By the way, +5000 puts the Miami Dolphins in the bottom third in case you were wondering)
What good rebuild doesn’t come with a massive high-profile trade to acquire a guy entering the moon phase of his career? All talent depleted rosters need to overpay and trade away young draft picks, right? That’s totally the way to be successful!
Here are five concrete reasons why it just doesn’t make a lick of sense to trade for Antonio Brown:
First, the Miami Dolphins are the 8th oldest team in the NFL right now. Take out the Saints and Patriots, who have 60-year-old quarterbacks to re average the playing field, and the Dolphins are likely in the 6th spot.
Second, the Miami Dolphins can’t afford him. Sitting at around $11 million in cap space for 2019, The Miami Dolphins are 26 out of 32 teams regarding having money available to spend on players for their team. The Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars are projected to be over the cap in their current situation and will need to make some significant changes to get below the cap.
Also, let's not forget that the Miami Dolphins are five pro bowl players away from competing for a playoff position, not one. Sure, the team can spend a boat load of money on one or two pro bowl players, but just ask Mike Tannenbaum how that works out for teams.
Then, through media reports, it has become abundantly clear that Antonio Brown seems to have an attitude problem with a top five quarterback. If he has had so much trouble with a top tier player, how is he going to do when he is faced with a bottom five quarterback or a bottom tier quarterback?
Lastly, it’s just not the Patriot way. According to Spotrac.com, the Patriots are contracted to spend $20.5 million dollars amongst wide receiver and the running back position combined. With the new coaches in Miami being brought up in the New England Patriots system, it does not appear that they are going to sway from what has been successful.
The bottom line is that the Miami Dolphins need a youth movement, not a Brown movement. We are not one player away like the Colts or 49ers. Sure, the Fins could do some salary cap gymnastics and clear space but that does nothing to address their aging roster devoid of young pro bowl talent. The Dolphins hired a scout as a GM and surely he’s good at picking the right guys in the draft, right? Drafts win championships. Locking up a pro bowl player whilst on his rookie deal multiplied by 5, wins championships!
If Coach Flores learned anything from Bill Belichick it’s that he will let a player go one year early and will bring in a guy he only sees as extreme value who has “lightning in a bottle” upside. A rebuild is a rebuild, it’s a drafting youth movement. Collect draft picks, not trade them.
Good players across a position is the Patriot way which is not one aging stud and a bunch of roster filling guys. Believe it or not, the Miami Dolphins have some recently drafted guys who can lead the youth movement. We aren’t starting from zero, but we also aren’t starting from one man away.
The Miami Dolphins are rebuilding, it’s that simple. Ain’t nobody got time for high priced free agent diva’s, even if it might be fun for a year!
This story was written by Steven Paulsen. Follow him on Twitter: @SarcasticPhin
With the 2019 NFL draft quickly approaching, the PhinManiacs team has developed their first mock draft. The focus, as has been discussed in numerous sports columnists, is not the first round quarterback draft pick, but instead, building the offensive and defensive lines. Setting this foundation will make for a longer future for whoever ends up quarterbacking the Miami Dolphins.
Round 1, Pick 13
Teddy Bridgewater- New Orleans Saints
Bridgwater provides the perfect combination of fan buzz (From Florida) and logic. Both sides could benefit from this... Miami gets a stop gap that has potential to hold the fort for anywhere between 1-3 years (allowing a young QB to develop) and Bridgewater has a chance to start once again for his hometown team.
Ryan Fitzpatrick- Tampa Bay Bucs
Now these may not be the Dolfan favorites but hear me out. These are good options if the Fins draft a guy this year that they expect him to develop for a year (or at least half the year). Fitzmagic has shows that he can be inconsistent but that he can also hold the fort until the "future" is ready. And if he could do that for a whole season (Or even half should a rookie get drafted this year) then its a win considering our future QB could learn from the sidelines.
Frank Gore- Miami Dolphins
Frank was amazing for the Fins. He is the unofficial poster child for everything that is Miami. I would say that Drake and Ballage both learned from Frank and in all honesty, the RB group was one of the bright spots for the Fins when utilized correctly. I am in favor for a reunion with old reliable.
Mike Davis-Seattle Seahawks
Mike Davis has shows glimpses of being able to not only handle starter carries, but also produce when called upon. Not to be overlooked, is the fact that he was also a part of a loaded stable of backs in Seattle. Davis would slide in as the broke man's filler for Gore. He's also young and has shown an ability to block in the pass game.
Rob Kelly- Washington Redskins
Yes...Kelly is 2 years removed from a productive season. Yes Kelly is coming off of an injury that kept him out of last season. But, when healthy, Kelly has shown he can be a bull between the tackles. Again, the Miami backfield was and can be a strength. Adding Kelley, who is still young and with lowered expectations can find a solid niche in Miami.
Marquise Gray or AJ Derby- Miami Dolphins
Well, Gray was out for the year before starting a season he was named the starter for. And Derby was also hurt ,but had a chance to perform, where he wasn't all that impressive. Gray would make sense to come back as a compliment to Gesicki (Hopefully he takes a few steps as well next season). Derby has an interesting skill set when used correctly so he shouldn't be completely dismissed as a depth filling option either.
Luke Willson- Seattle Seahawks
Willson is an interesting player that has shown flashes in Seattle. I don't necessarily believe that Willson will blossom in Miami, especially with the hope that Gesicki develops. But Willson and Gesicki on the field at the same time (with the right mind pressing the buttons on offense) could provide 2 solid receiving safety blankets for whoever is under center.
Maxx Williams- Baltimore Ravens
Maxx Williams has been a major disappointment for the Ravens. So much so that they drafted another TE 3 seasons after bringing Maxx in hoping he could be the future at the position for them. He's had injuries and has yet to develop his pass catching skills since joining the NFL. However he is still young (24 Years old) if coached up correctly and effectively, he can be a compliment to Gesicki and pay a consistent role with this team for longer than a "Try it before you buy it" deal.
Kevin White- Chicago Bears
With the Bears not picking up White's 5th year option, it all but assures his time in Chicago is over. There's no way to sugar coat it, White (Along with draft mate Davonte Parker in all honesty) have yet to meet their lofty draft expectations, or any to be quite honest. But his tools are still tough to look past. Imagine White and Parker FINALLY reaching their potential together in Miami? (I swear I'm being semi sarcastic). But at the very least, a flier on a big target since the Fins may struggle overall seems like a scratch tickets worth purchasing?
Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers
Funchess has had the opportunity to establish himself as Cam's top weapon, especially when Benjamin was traded to Buffalo. However, Funchess has remained inconsistent and struggles with drops. He's a solid target at 6"4 and is only 24 years old. Depending where his final price tag ends, Miami might want to consider if the WR corp has some changes to it.
Adam Humphries- Tampa Bay Bucs
As the Bucs 2nd best weapon on offense, Humphries has established a name for himself. Although he may not be totally known around the league he should be. He caught 76 catches this season with 816 yards and 5 TDs at 25 years old. If Amendola does not return and Humphries somehow makes his way into free agency, I would strongly recommend the Fins shoot their shot.
Offensive Tackle/Offensive Guard
Ja'Wuan James- Miami Dolphins
James showed the Dolphins the ability he has and how is worth the money he is asking for (Remember the Chicago game?!?) he has moments where we wonder if he went blank in the brain but he was clearly one of the most consistent performers the Fins had. With a rebuild coming, it might be good to keep one of your solid performers, especially when he and Tunsil are the only salvageable pieces of that leaky offensive line.
Cameron Fleming- Dallas Cowboys
Fleming is a familiar face and name as he was a part of the Patriots offensive line prior to joining the Cowboys last offseason. Flemming has had some moments with Dallas where he showed he can play in the league. If the Dolphins can be patient and play to his strengths, this move could pay off and this 6'6 320lbs monster can help the fins moving forward (Should they move on from James or for depth).
Mark Glowinski- Indianapolis Colts
Glowinski is one of my personal favorites on this list. He is versatile and has shown he can handle multiple positions on the line. Although Guard is not his natural position, he has filled in beautifully on that stout Indy line. Again,with a solid coaching staff willing to wait for the payoff, he can prove to help a position in Miami that has haunted us for over a decade.
Rodger Saffold- LA Rams
Saffold is a pro-bowl guard that has been one of the main components on a line that has elevated the production of Todd Gurley and protected Goff on an offense that is in the top tier of the league. Saffod is in his 9th season (and 30 years old) so he doesn't fit the mold of the "rebuild". But...if the Fins draft a rookie QB and he has a chance to start sooner rather than later, then maybe opening the checkbook makes sense for a position that has been sorely neglected for too long.
The Miami Dolphins have had a solid receiving core for the past several seasons. With the addition of Kenny Stills and Devante Parker in 2015 the Dolphins thought they had one of the top young receiving corps in the NFL.
Flash forward to 2019 and Devante Parker will more than likely get cut this offseason and Kenny Stills has been good but very inconsistent. Parker has shown flashes of talent but he has had his career riddled with injuries. Stills on the other hand has had some productive seasons, especially with the quarterbacks he has played with, but he has also been inconsistent. Stills only catches about 50% of all passes thrown his way but is a touchdown machine scoring touchdowns in his four seasons with the Dolphins. Although Stills is a good receiver he does not have Antonio Brown, Deandre Hopkins, or Julio Jones type talent. The Dolphins however do have three receivers that with the right coaching could turn into our franchise receivers.
The first player is Albert Wilson who by far the most explosive offensive weapon the Miami Dolphins had last year before his season was cut short due to a hip injury. If Wilson did not get hurt, the Dolphins offense would have looked very different last season. Wilson single handedly won the Dolphins game against Chicago with this run after the catch. If Wilson can stay healthy and can clean up his routes, he could possibly be a top 10 receiver in the NFL.
Now the Dolphins also have two other receivers that have shown flashes, but either they could not stay healthy or they did not get enough opportunities. Those players are Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo. Grant is at very undersized receiver at 5’7”, but he plays like he is 6’3”. Grant has worked his tail off every offseason to become more than a return specialist. The most remembered play of Grant’s receiver career is when he mossed Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler in a primetime game. When Grant did, that many Dolphins fans wondered where this was all season. If Grant can stay healthy and keep working his tail off the be a better receiver, he could continue to improve and grow with the Dolphins.
And with Leonte Carroo, he has also been a player that lacked speed but has displayed solid hands. Carroo never really was given a fair opportunity under Gase to show what he can do in game. Carroo did have some game action these past couple of years, but got very few targets. The one moment that all Dolphins fans should remember is the amazing catch he had against the Colts just this past year. Carroo mossed the corner then ran into the end zone. That play shows he has potential to be a solid receiver and it also showed that if ever gets into a footrace he should just run out of bounds.
All three of these receivers are young and they should be able to take the next step in these upcoming seasons under new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea and Head Coach Brian Flores.
This article was written by Tanner Elliott. Follow him on Twitter @Elliott302Tj
Nick Foles, the backup Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, reportedly declined his $20.6 million mutual option with the team for the 2019 season and will pay the Eagles $2 million to become a free agent, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Since the news broke, oddsmakers have determined that the Miami Dolphins will be a top suiter for Foles stating that the odds are 5/1 for the Philadelphia backup to join the Dolphins during the upcoming season. Although the oddsmakers find it favorable for a Fins/Foles signing, the chances of this happening are slim.
First, although Nick Foles was the Super Bowl MVP of the 2017 season while leading the Philadelphia Eagles to their first ever Super Bowl victory, he has never proven to be a consistent quality quarterback. He has had some significant success, such as his 2013 Pro Bowl season with the Eagles and his 2017 Super Bowl run and MVP selection, but he has also proven to be very inconsistent as a starter. His statistics as a starter are:
As it relates to the Miami Dolphins, all of the reports coming out of Davie since the hiring of Chris Grier and Brian Flores refer to this upcoming season as a cost cutting year. The reports state that the players who are earning the highest salaries are probably going to be at risk the most to being released or traded. As Chris Grier and Brian Flores are setting the foundation for long standing success, cutting costs in 2019 will help to fund future players on the squad. Nick Foles will be looking for a multi year contract in the $20 million plus range per year and the Miami Dolphins will not want to pay that much money during a rebuilding phase.
In addition, every indication from the Dolphins organization through various news outlets is that the team will be undergoing a significant youth movement. Players who are 28 and older are at risk of no longer being with the team in 2019 as the foundation for long lasting success will begin with younger players being added to the squad and being developed by the newly named coaching staff. The odds are much better that the Miami Dolphins will give the younger quarterbacks currently on the roster, Luke Falk and Jake Rudock, a chance before bringing in a high priced 30 year old quarterback in Nick Foles.
Although it would be nice to have a Pro Bowl and Super Bowl MVP quarterback on the Miami Dolphins team, the chances of this happening are very slim. And, although the odds are in favor of Nick Foles landing with the Dolphins, I wouldn't get my hopes up, and I definitely wouldn’t bet on it!
This story was written by Ian Berger. Follow him on Twitter: @ian693
Early Friday morning, the Miami Dolphins re-signed LS John Denney to a one-year deal, according to his agent, Ian Greengross. Denney was slated to become an unrestricted free agent, when the official period begins March 13. The deal is for $1.1 million.
Denney currently leads all active NFL players in games played, and has been apart of Miami’s organization since 2005, after signing as an undrafted free agent. This past season, Denney recorded four total tackles; one solo. Denney has appeared in 224 career games as a Dolphin, and will turn 41-years-old in 2019.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
"It's a beautiful day for golf but an even better day for cancer fighting," said Jennifer Jehn, senior vice president of the Miami Dolphins Foundation and executive director of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge. "One hundred percent of our funds goes directly to cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer, and that includes all the golfer's participation out here today."
Since its inception in 2010, in honor of former Dolphins tight end Jim Mandich who died of cancer in 2011, the Dolphins Cancer Challenge has raised over $27.5 million for cancer research, and has touched the hearts of people all across the country, whether they're currently battling cancer, have a family member with cancer, or have already survived their bout with cancer.
Many of the latter, return to do their part to repay the effort put into helping them recover, both by participating on the golf course and through the main bike riding event which will be held on April 6 this year at Hard Rock Stadium.
"We've been proudly sponsoring the Dolphins Cancer Challenge for the last three years," said Alex Pascual, the commercial banking manager for BBVA Compass Banking. "I'm personally very honored to be involved in this with the Dolphins foundation and Sylvester. I'm a cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with phase 2 lymphoma in 2006, and when we did all our research and our due diligence to find out where would be the best place to get treated, everything pointed out to Sylvester."
Thanks to the golf tournament and the main event at the stadium, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has been able to make breakthroughs in the field of treating this deadly disease. But one of the most important reasons the DCC has been able to bring in the crowds it has, is that it receives support from several celebrities across all South Florida sports, from football to hockey and beyond.
Some of them even have personal stories of their own.
"There is no question that I would come and help this event because I'm a cancer survivor." said former Dolphins wide receiver, Ring of Honor inductee and legend Mark Duper. "I had kidney cancer about seven years ago, everything is good, everything is fine. I just got one kidney, but I think my other kidney got bigger, so it all averages out."
Current athletes also came out in force to support the cause; Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, and offensive tackle Sam Young - who despite being a pending free agent is on the DCC board - all made appearances.
The rate of death from cancer has steadily declined over the past 25 years according to the American Cancer Society, but the reality is that any number more than zero is still too high. This is why the event is held every year, to speed up the process of eliminating cancer once and for all.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
The Miami Dolphins franchise has been a so called laughing stock of the NFL since Dan Marino retired. Before Marino retired the Dolphins were one of the most respected teams in the history of the NFL. One reason for that is because of Dan Marino and the other is Don Shula. Shula who coached the Dolphins from 1970-1995 made the team into a winner.
During his reign as head coach, the Dolphins went to five Super Bowls and won two of those, including the only perfect season in NFL history in 1972. Without Shula as the head coach, who knows how good the Dolphins would have been. Shula has a reputation for being a leader, a tough coach and getting the most out of players. That list of traits seems similar to the traits the Miami Dolphins were looking for when looking for a new head coach.
Enter new Dolphins coach Brian Flores. Flores was hired because he is willing to rebuild this team and give them an identity. In New England, Patriots player always looked up to him and played to their fullest potential for him. Flores is also very respected throughout the league and many people endorsed him throughout his interview process. If you have not put the pieces together yet the Dolphins were looking for a coach that resembled Shula.
Now I am not comparing Flores to Shula because Shula is a legendary coach and Flores just got his first head coaching gig, but they do have similar traits. As I stated previously they are both highly respected, get the most out of their players, and are leaders. Although these coaches are coaching in a different style of the NFL, I think Flores could use an old school approach and run the team like Shula did.
Flores has two or three good running backs, like Shula did, and he might try to run the offense similar to what Shula did, but incorporate more passing. Flores will have Drake, Ballage, and possibly Bolden to be running the offense like Shula had Kickk, Morris, and Csonka.
The biggest reason I can see Flores being the next Don Shula other than the two have very similar traits is the defense. Shula was a great defensive coach and one of his defenses was even nicknamed the “No Name Defense” because Shula had a top defense in the NFL without any big name stars. Flores has a very young and an unexperienced defense that he can groom and coach anyway he wants.
If Flores puts the players in best position to be successful and the players want to play for him then this defense could be very scary in a couple years and possibly be the next “No Name Defense”.
This article was written by Tanner Elliott. Follow him on Twitter @Elliott302Tj
• Let’s start on a positive note by pointing out that the new Dolphins organizational structure is probably, finally, the right one. From Dave Hyde at the Sun-Sentinel:
‘One man at the top, El Jefe, in [general manager Chris] Grier. The head coach, [Brian] Flores, who was hand-picked by Grier. A partnership starting on the same timeline with, as Flores said, “the same principles.”’
’That’s the simple way it all should be and, oddly, the way Ross never has done it. He has been the king of the staggered starts and forced marriages of general managers and coaches that devolve into divorces and the next forced marriage.
’There remain questions of why Grier didn’t just survive this latest change but was promoted despite uneven drafts. That’s fair. But there’s no questions of who’s in charge or what the timeline to win is, as with every other season with [Dolphins owner Steve] Ross.’
I’m going to whole heartedly agree with Hyde. Having a good personnel man at the top of the organization in the form of a general manager who hires the head coach is almost always the way to go. There are, of course, organizations that work with a different structure but they almost always involve an owner who knows football at the top or an extra-ordinary individual in the head coach who can also be a GM. But generally speaking, you want a single GM who knows football and can pick talent, players, scouts and head coaches, at the top.
And there’s good reason to believe that Grier is the right guy. The last really good draft the Dolphins had was 2016 when they picked up Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, and Jakeem Grant. Probably not coincidentally, that was the last one that Grier probably was able to pick the talent without interference from former head coach Adam Gase, who very evidently was given quite a bit more power of personnel after an excellent 2016 season.
It says here that there’s a very good chance the Dolphins have the right guy in charge.
• Having said that, it may not be immediately evident that is the case. The Dolphins are in for a long, tough rebuild. They have to tear the team down before they can really build it back up and that’s probably a two year process.
They’ll have to start dumping older talent and replacing it with younger inexperienced guys. The problem is that you can’t dump all of it at once because it creates more holes than you can fill. So you gradually release and replace, release and replace, rinse and repeat until you finally get to the point that you have most of the younger pieces in place. It’s a "tear down" because you are gradually getting worse the whole time.
People have told me that perhaps the Dolphins process won’t be as bad because they have a number of younger pieces in place. I really don’t see it.
In the defensive backfield they have cornerback Xavien Howard and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. You might keep safety T.J McDonald if you have a plan for him.
Many will press to keep Rashad Jones but there’s no way that happens after he flat out quit on the team in an ugly mid-season incident. I don’t care what you think of the leadership of Adam Gase, there’s no way as an organization you can keep a guy who allows his pride to lead him to do such a thing. He’s also 30 years old which means he could be 33 before the Dolphins are competitive again.
You probably do keep the linebackers, Kiko Alonzo, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker. No one on the defensive line is even worth mentioning either because they lack the talent or the youth necessary to survive the purge. This is far and away where the most work needs to be done, especially with a scheme change on the way.
On offense, the Dolphins have made it plain that they think running back Kenyan Drake is too immature to be the future at the position. They need a quarterback, guards, a younger center, and possibly a right tackle. The wide receiver and tight end positions also need a great deal of attention.
That’s a heck of a lot of work. I’d say anyone who predicts that they’ll be back to where they are now in less than two years is being wildly optimistic.
• Having said that, there are a lot of ways to build a franchise. I’ve noticed many observers predicting that the Dolphins will not be active in the free agent market. I tend to disagree.
A good, aggressive foray into the market can be a good way to find players. You just have to be careful to find the right players. Look for th e Dolphins to go hard at younger free agents coming out of their first contract. These would be players who couldn’t be resigned by their original teams either because of cap issues or because they already have established players at the position who couldn’t be moved aside to allow the younger man to start.
In particular, look for the Dolphins to target rising players who have not hit their peak yet. The key will be projecting the players talent into a future with superior coaching and more game experience. Identifying players of this nature will be one of the keys to Grier’s success.
• One of the more interesting aspects of the new Dolphins plan will be to see how Flores emerges from the other end of it.
As is well-known, Flores will try to bring the “Patriot Way” to the Dolphins. The problem is that other franchises that have tried this over the year have failed. Sometimes miserably. From Armando Salguero at the Miami Herald:
Teams have failed miserably thinking they could copy New England’s success by hiring New England coaches.
In 2017, the Detroit Lions were 9-7 to follow another 9-7 record and playoff appearance in 2016. That was deemed not good enough so the Lions hired Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to bring the Patriot Way to Motown. He was hired by general manager Bob Quinn, who spent the first 15 seasons of his career in the New England front office before moving to Detroit in 2016.
The Dolphins run the risk of repeating past mistakes here. Defensive coordinators Romeo Crennell, Eric Mangini and Patricia all became head coaches. All failed or are struggling. The reasons why are a mystery but a clue might be found in this interesting tidbit from Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post:
’The biggest spectacle in American culture staged [Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick’s opus, but it began two weeks ago on a quiet field in Foxborough, Massachusetts. In their first practice after the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game, when other coaches might have rested players after an arduous, emotional game, Belichick put the Patriots in full pads and went full-bore. He added extra drills and additional practice periods. Mistakes were met with coaches demanding, "Do it again." At the end, players toiled through an extra 12 sprints.
’"It felt like we were running forever," [wide receiver Matthew] Slater said.’
Belichick has the gravitas to pull this off. Do his assistants?
Bringing the “Patriot Way” to Miami is easier said than done.
But the biggest problem I see is that Flores is a defensive head coach who is going to be very dependent upon the development of a young quarterback. The danger is that the Dolphins are in year three of their rebuild and the quarterback isn’t progressing fast enough. This leads to thoughts that an offensive head coach to further his development is needed.
Fortunately the Dolphins had the wisdom to hire an experienced, quarterback-centric assistant head coach in Jim Caldwell. Because he’s spent most of his time in the NFL coaching established quarterbacks, I do have my doubts about whether Caldwell can develop a rookie. But hiring quarterback-centric coaches was a priority for a lot of teams this year and the Dolphins did about as well as you could possibly expect under the circumstances. I have far more confidence in Caldwell than I do in new head coaches like Zac Taylor and Kliff Kingbury.
• And although most observers don’t seem to believe that the Dolphins will draft a quarterback this year, I wouldn’t rule it out. Grier says that he certainly has not.
“We may get to the process, fall in love with a couple of guys,” Grier said. “Last year, we liked two guys a lot, they both had good success this year. It could be at that point, we may say, ‘Hey, this is the guy.’ ”
Reportedly those “couple guys” were Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, two of the bigger and more athletic quarterbacks. I have made my man crush on Drew Lock known but if I were to speculate, the fact that Sam Darnold, who has many similarities to Lock, wasn’t one of their favorites might mean he won’t be in love with Lock, either. Dwayne Haskins might fit this profile best of the top candidates.
This article was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
Picture this. Coach Flores is sitting with all of his coaches before the beginning of training camp, looking at them in their eyes, in as serious of a look as he can give, and says “Remember coaches, we don’t want the players out there to look too good. Our job this season is to do anything but win”. Or, it’s Sunday afternoon. The Miami Dolphins are playing the Buffalo Bills for the season opener. Coach Flores walks up to Xavien Howard and says “X, you look like you’re playing at about a nine today. We need you to be more like a five if we’re gonna lose this game today.” Can you see either of these scenarios happening? Neither can I.
Recently, a report was leaked that the 2019 Miami Dolphins are going to be tanking this upcoming season. This report states that during the Miami Dolphins head coaching interviews, the expectation of losing was part of at least one of the coach interview conversations. Let me be the first to tell you that tanking, or the expectation of losing, is not going to happen! With the new coach that was hired, the coaches that he is bringing with him, the players that Coach Flores and GM Chris Grier will be working with, expectations of the Miami Dolphins fans and the expectation of the owner, tanking is not an option and will not be the case in 2019!
Coach Flores came to the Miami Dolphins with a core plan that was aligned with that of Dolphin’s general manager, Chris Grier. As mentioned in the article Give Brian Flores a Chance Before Crowning Him a Dolphins Failure, Coach Flores came to the Miami Dolphins with four Super Bowl rings, 14 AFC East championships and seven AFC Conference championships. He did not leave the most respected franchise in the National Football League, New England Patriots, to join a team where the direction would be given for him to lose. In addition, by signing a five-year contract, which is not the norm when hiring NFL coaches, Flores will be in his role for the long-haul to prove what he can do at a high-level. He will not want to start his coaching tenure on a sour note. Who would?
And Coach Flores is still bringing in assistant coaches and position coaches. Could you imagine that conversation between Flores and prospective coaches: “Here’s the plan. We’re going to lose this upcoming season. So, what I need you to do is leave the team where you’ve been successfully coaching players to join me in a new role where we plan to lose, and lose alot”. That would really be a great recruiting tool. Not only would he not be able to bring aboard successful assistant coaching candidates, but everyone would probably laugh at him for even bringing up that type of talk. And, of course, word would get out to a much broader level than just one coaching candidate of what the plan for the team was going to be: Lose and lose a lot.
The players on the Miami Dolphins roster will also not tolerate a direction to lose. NFL players are the most competitive players in football, and they are arguably the most competitive players in professional sports. Players who have made it to the NFL, the highest level in football, are not going to put tape on film where they are possibly not giving their best effort. Every player who has made it to the National Football League is one of the best in the country and they are not going to give up a year of their career to purposely lose football games or not give full effort.
Miami Dolphins fans have been through a lot over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot more losing then there’s been winning over that period of time. But, the significant majority of fans would tell you that they would prefer winning, or going down trying, versus losing on purpose. Fans are the ones who ultimately shell out their hard-earned money to support the Miami Dolphins either thru ticket sales, merchandise sales, or watching television that generates television ad revenue for the team. They deserve a high level of effort from everyone in the Dolphins organization and they wouldn’t tolerate anything less. Even the hint of a team losing on purpose could jeopardize the loyalty of a number of fans, even more than the casualties that have come from prior losing seasons. The Dolphins organization and its owner, would not take this risk.
Stephen Ross may be a lot of things: a billionaire, unfamiliar with football, a non-resident of Florida, a person who has made some questionable football leadership decisions. But one thing he is not is a loser. With all of the resources he has thrown at this football team, including the over $500 million he personally spent on an amazing football stadium at Hard Rock Stadium, the money he recently spent on the new tennis complex, the money he is going to be spending on the new Dolphins training facility, all he has done is attempt to create an atmosphere conducive for winning. Has he made some mistakes along the way, of course. But, you can’t fault him for trying. And he would be the first person to tell you that losing is not something he promotes.
Yes, he did mention during the press conference of Adam Gase’s release that the Dolphins might be a few years away from winning, which is why Adam Gase was let go. But let’s be clear, what Ross did not say was that he expected to have a losing franchise. He did not say that losing was acceptable. He did not say that losing was the plan. He was acknowledging that things needed to change with the team. And through a rebuild, it could take a few years to get to consistent winning. And not 8-8 or 9-7 winning either. REAL winning. Playoff winning and beyond.
Which leads to the real plan. No, the Miami Dolphins will not be tanking in 2019. Instead, what you will see is similar to the 2013 movie The Purge. Outside of the stadium will be the players that are getting up there in age, the players who are 28 years old and older, banging on the gates to get into Hard Rock Stadium. I can see it already: Ryan Tannehill, Sam Young, Kiko Alonso, Robert Quinn, and Andre Branch all banging at the gates yelling “let me in. let me in”. And Chris Grier, Brian Flores and company will be on the other side saying “sorry guys, we are moving on with younger players”.
After “The Purge”, the Miami Dolphins will be left with a bunch of young players. Some that were existing players on the team, some that will be brought in at a low price via free agency, and some that will be picked up in the NFL Draft in April. But, all of them will be able to create a foundation for which the Dolphins can build from and succeed in the upcoming years. So, instead of the Fins tanking in 2019, they will be fielding a different, younger, and newer looking team than in 2018. Could it be a losing season for the Dolphins, sure. But is losing the plan, absolutely not!
Shame on the coaching candidate who supposedly leaked the information to the contrary (who I’m sure is not the guy who got the job) and to the reporter who ran with the story. It can’t be farther from the truth from what the 2019 Miami Dolphins will actually be doing. They will not be tanking, guaranteed!
This article was written by Ian Berger. Follow him on Twitter: @ian693
“I think I’ve had a lot of experiences in a lot of different areas of football organizations,” says Flores. “I feel like I’ve made an impact, and my overall philosophy is to help my players, help my coaches, help anyone I’m around become the best version of themselves. I think I’ve done that. I think I want to do that on a grander scale … Hopefully we get that done here.”
Those, my friends, are not the words of a coach preparing to tank and play for the highest draft pick possible in the upcoming season, as reported by various media. Whether the season plays out that way remains to be seen, but this writer is of the opinion that Flores did not come to Miami (and bring other assistants with him from one of the most respected winning organizations in the league), with any intention of not giving his all to put wins on the board.
Does this mean the team’s front office are already at odds on what the focus of this team will be going forward?
Not at all.
“I think our vision and our core beliefs and our core philosophy of how to build a team, they were aligned,” said Flores about the team’s philosophy. “That was one of the things for me, going through the process of interviewing. I told every team this – if our beliefs aren’t aligned, then don’t hire me, because if they’re not aligned, then it’s not going to work. If they’re not aligned, it doesn’t work.”
As Flores puts together his staff in the coming days and weeks, there is one constant that he’s looking for in each person he brings to work with him in Miami.
“There are some core values, core beliefs that I will take from New England,” he says. “I would say the number one thing there is putting the team first. I think that organizationally … that’s very important to me. I’m about being selfless. I learned this a long time ago – it’s hard for two people to trust each other, let alone 11. In order to get that, we have to have guys who put the team first, are selfless and want to work with one another to do what’s best for the outcome of the group.”
With those comments, fans can expect a notable change from past regimes, where coaches came in with systems and coaching concepts and expected the players to buy into their plan, and relied on those players to learn and implement those plans.
Instead, this new staff under Flores will be more focused on evaluating players, finding their strengths, and putting them in the best position to succeed. Weaknesses will be pointed out, with coaches tasked with teaching the players the best ways to improve, and to know the hows and whys of his job on every play.
“You fix that on a day-to-day basis,” says Flores. “Everyone tries to improve every day. You take it one day at a time. There is a selflessness and a ‘put the team first’ attitude that you have to have, and that goes from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to the people who clean up at nighttime. If you can get everybody to buy into that, then good things will happen. I believe that.”
Good leaders never put themselves above others. Good leaders note the accomplishments of even the smallest contributor to a team’s success. The fact that Flores mentions that in his comments is what gives this writer confidence that the Dolphins have finally found a leader who understands leadership. He isn’t here to rant and rave on the sidelines, he isn’t here to throw iPads on the ground and yell at players. He’s here to lead. He won’t demand respect, but he’ll work to earn that from everyone in the building.
And it won’t be easy.
The Dolphins have some good players on both sides of the ball, some core talent to build upon and exploit. But by and large, this is still a team with many holes to fill before it can be considered a contender. Flores knows this, and realizes that he’s facing an uphill battle to bring this team back into contention.
But he’s also unafraid.
“I would say that every week, we’re going to go out there with the idea that we’re going to win a game,” Flores said. “There’s going to be pain involved in that, too. There’s definitely bumps in the road. There’s no doubt about that. In this game, there’s ups, there’s downs. That’s part of this game. That’s part of leadership, dealing with adversity. There will be some pain. We know that. But there’s pain for every team. We had some this year in New England. We overcame them, and I think that’s the kind of attitude and resolve I want to see from a team that I’m coaching.
“Each game is different,” he continues. “Each opponent is different. Their strengths, their weaknesses are different every week, so every week we’re coming up with a different plan. A lot of that is tied to who you have personnel-wise, what we can do versus what they can do. It could be different every week. I think in this game, you have to be multiple. If you sit in one thing, the coaches are too good. They’ll find a weakness, they’ll take advantage of it. I think that’s the case really across the board – high school, college and specifically in the pros... I think you have to be multiple and we’re going to try to do that.”
Hope springs eternal in the offseason of every NFL team, as they all start the year undefeated and with high aspirations. Flores comments give fans a lot of hope for the future, but it needs to be pointed out that this is a team in re-building mode and as such, players who are not considered to be contributors in the next 2-3 years are going to be purged from the roster as the team building with young players via the draft and prudent free agent signings (re. no big-money splash signings).
This will be a young team that will experience growing pains, but with a focus on core fundamentals, the plan is for the Dolphins to build from within and create a sustainable roster. This, along with coaches who know how to teach, will lend to a team that cuts down on penalties and mistakes, and win or lose, plays good, sound football.
“I think there are some things fundamentally that we are going to want to do as a team,” says Flores on this topic. “We are going to want to play physical. We are not going to turn the ball over. Those are coaching points you hear every week. Whether it’s a young team, old team, at the core of it, it is about getting 11 guys on the same page, and those guys have to work together.
“As a coaching staff, you’ve got to get the coaching staff on the same page. You’ve got to get the entire organization on the same page. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. That’s a cliché term but it’s the truth, specifically in football. So if there is a fracture in one place, that could be the difference between getting fourth-and-1 and not getting fourth-and-1. I truly believe that.”
Time will tell if the Dolphins have finally found the man to lead their team for the next decade. At the least, fans can take hope in the fact that the front office realized what wasn’t working, and they’ve brought in the man whom they think can correct that.
And Flores welcomes the challenge.
“I do believe that if you can get a group of young men to band together, to trust one another, to believe in one another, to practice and prepare at a high level, then you’ll win ball games. Period.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
Dear Mr. Ross,
As I watched Tom Brady and Bill Belichick hoist another Lombardi trophy up in the air in Atlanta Sunday night, I came to the realization that the sports world is witnessing pure greatness. It has taken me the last 18 years to admit that. I have despised the Patriot Way. Hearing the phrase “The Patriot Way” has been a very sore subject for this fan. And while the confetti was dropping in red, white & blue colors while Coach Belichick held his granddaughter and Tom Brady held his little girl, I couldn’t help but think what a buffoon you truly are. I am convinced that you and Jimmy Haslam have been drinking buddies for quite some time.
As I play this season back in my mind over and over again the more crystal clear it becomes that you have not even given your fans a shred of hope that things will get better. I admire that you took blame publicly. That’s never easy to do with the ego of a billionaire. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s a good start to the rebuild that awaits. However, it doesn’t solve the fact that the Miami Dolphins organization is used as a punchline in NFL circles.
Through the 1990’s, Jim Kelly and his high-powered Buffalo Bills shredded us roughly twice a year. And from the very beginning of the 2000’s, Bill Belichick has proven time and time again that he is far superior to any coach in the league and that having a GM is a waste of money when he could just do it himself. To be dominated for 30 years by two different teams in the same division has been painful. To invest so much money and time into a franchise that proves to be a slot machine that never gives a return on the investment is agonizing. It’s like buying powerball tickets and having absolutely no chance at winning.
Since your tenure began, we watched Bill Parcells walk out on a “neophyte owner” who had no respect for what the Tuna had done over the course of his career. Next was chasing Jim Harbaugh while you extended a coach’s contract only to be turned down. For this fan, it was even more embarrassing in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes that he would only have a conversation because of the fact that Dan Marino called him personally to arrange it. Good people have been running away from you like you have the plague. And then you bring in Mike Tannen-bum as the football czar who was responsible for putting the Jets in salary cap hell and paying a DT like Suh $19 million per year, more than your QB was making. I have been wondering for a long time if you have any common sense. You’re obviously successful in real estate but you have made every mistake a first-time owner tends to make…except for the fact that you keep making the same mistakes over and over without learning anything. I hope this time is different.
Here we are in 2019 and the AFC East Patriots have just tied the Steelers for the most championships in history. All won by Patriot teams that had decent talent besides Brady & Gronk. The mindset of Bill Belichick and his approach to running a team is historic and hall of fame worthy. Sure, as a fan, I have been jealous of their success. Why can’t this be us? Why can’t we be consistent? How hard is it to provide stability within an enterprise? Obviously, you’ve done that in your business career. Why is this so different? I live in New England and I listen to Boston talk radio every morning, WEEI. Playoffs and Super Bowls are expected here. And while I understand that it isn’t going to last forever, I also don’t see an end in sight for at least a few years.
As a lifelong fan, I am not even asking for a dynasty. What New England has done will never be accomplished again while I am still alive. I am simply asking to put a consistent, mentally tough playoff team in the hunt year in and year out. I am asking for the revolving door of coaches, GM’s, staff and players to have some stability and pride. A winning culture is started by the owner and front his office. You have dug yourself such a large hole that it could take many more years just to become average. And if this front office misses on another QB, it puts the franchise back another decade.
In 2013, I cancelled the season tickets that I had because my family deserves better. I spent $10k per year on tickets, travel, hotels and concessions and received nothing back in return except for mocking and being the butt of a joke. And as much as I hate to admit it, after a 3-0 start before the wheels came off against New England early in the season, I couldn’t bring myself to watch crazy eyes and his girl scout troop embarrass themselves any further. The minute a game started going south, I shut it off to preserve my peace of mind and maintain a healthy blood pressure. You assembled a group of ass clowns to run your organization into the ground. At least Jimmy Haslam (based on 2018) may have finally gotten it right. You simply cannot win in this league consistently without a marquee QB and most importantly, a mentally strong leader of men who can inspire and motivate the 53 guys to play together on Sundays.
Many younger Dolphins fans ask me why I am so negative. Like a bad marriage, you have to realize when to end the cycle of dysfunction. I have never seen the Dolphins hoist a Lombardi trophy. I was born right after the last one and watched Joe Montana take rookie Dan Marino to school back in early 1985. It has been letdown after letdown and I just have trouble drinking the stale Kool Aid that is presented to us year after year.
In 2019, I will be cautiously optimistic that maybe, you have learned a valuable lesson and are committed to the right staff and front office. I am rooting for Brian Flores to build a winner from the ground up. When I think of winning franchises, I think of the 49ers with Eddie DeBartolo Jr, John McVay, Bill Walsh and Joe Montana. I think of the Bills with Ralph Wilson, Bill Polian, Marv Levy and Jim Kelly. I think of the Steelers with Art Rooney, Dick Haley, Chuck Knoll and Terry Bradshaw. I think of the Patriots with Robert Kraft, Jonathan Kraft, Bill Belichick the GM, Bill Belichick the Head Coach and Tom Brady. I would love to have a Miami owner, GM, coach and QB to be proud of. I would love to see a competitive product on the field weekly. Is that too much to ask for?
This story was written by James Barbaro. Follow him on Twitter: @thebigbear1977
If you’ve been a Miami Dolphins fan for the last 10, 15, or 20 years, you’ve probably become a skeptic when it comes to potential changes in the front office. Cam Cameron was going to revitalize the Miami Dolphins offense. The late Tony Sparano was going to bring some of the Dallas Cowboys magic to the Dolphins franchise. Joe Philbin brought a skill of cleanliness and organization that was needed with the Dolphins, and Adam Gase was the “quarterback whisperer” that the Dolphins longed for. It’s very easy to understand fan’s skepticism, but there are reasons to give new Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores a chance to succeed before calling him a “bad hire” or “another failure in a long list of Dolphin’s coaching failures”.
First, the pedigree that Brian Flores brings to the Miami Dolphins is the best for a new coach for the Fins since the hiring of Jimmy Johnson. Flores joined the New England Patriots in 2004 as a scouting assistant and held various roles during his 14-year tenure with the Pats. Along the way, he collected 14 AFC East titles, seven AFC Conference Championships, and four Super Bowl Rings. No other Head Coach has brought this type of resume’ with them to the Dolphins organization since Jimmy Johnson. The Dolphins have talked about shifting the culture from a losing mentality to that of a winning mentality. You won’t find many coaching candidates with a tenure, winning percentage, and hardware that Flores brings along with him.
Second, the reset is here and it’s probably a few years overdue. The front office pretty much got cleared out. Gone are the days of the three-headed front office monster of Dennis Hickey, Dawn Aponte and Mike Tannenbaum, and gone are the days of Mike Tannenbaum overpaying for aged veteran free agents. Between Chris Grier and now Brian Flores, who has four years of scouting experience, they will be able to bring in young guys that they can develop, including a new quarterback. Plus, the coaching staff has pretty much undergone a full overhaul. Coach Flores will now have the opportunity to shape the Dolphins roster with coachable, effective, and efficient players that will each be challenged to “do their job” (sound familiar?).
Oh, and don’t believe the hype about the Dolphins supposedly “tanking” during the 2019 season. It’s not going to happen. No coach in their right mind, let alone a coach coming from the most respected franchise in the country, would want to join a team with the direction that they lose. Reread that statement again. It makes no sense. What will most likely happen is that the older, high priced players will be replaced with younger, less expensive players. This will allow for a team rebuild that will not just be a one-year fix but a long-term solution, which is something the Dolphins have not been able to accomplish for a long time. It may lead to a challenging 2019 season because of this approach, but, if the young guys step up, it may not be as challenging as some may anticipate.
Lastly, Brian Flores is a different guy than what we’ve had in the past. The Miami Dolphins have been searching for another Don Shula since the last time Coach Shula stepped off the field in 1995. The Dolphins have had 10 coaches in the last 24 seasons. And they all have not fit the bill. Eventually, though, the Miami Dolphins are going to get it right, and Brian Flores is going to get his shot to be the right guy!
In closing, a lot of changes are coming the Miami Dolphin’s way! We’ve seen the change in coaches already, with more to come; player changes are coming as well, with upcoming free agency and draft; and then, the play on the field will be changing also once the season begins. A lot of changes are heading the Fins way and the fan skepticism is understandable. Some changes that fans will like and other changes that fans will hate. At the end of the day, Brian Flores is the 13th Coach of the Miami Dolphins. He’s different, he’s motivated to succeed, and he’s here, like it or not. Maybe being the 13th coach will bring a little magic like another prior Dolphin with the same number. Give the man a chance.
This article was written by Ian Berger. Follow him on Twitter: @ian693
The recent hire of Brian Flores has received mixed reviews from Miami Dolphins fans. Some -fans think that the Dolphins should have hired a young offensive minded coach instead or of a young defensive minded coach.
The best thing that Flores can do as head coach of the Dolphins is to make them into a dynasty or a team that starts to have winning seasons compared to 8-8 or 7-9. Flores, General Manager Chris Grier, and Owner Stephen Ross will have to be patient with this team as they are “rebuilding”. If Grier can rebuild both lines, get our young defense to be disciplined and give the offense an identity, he should be a very successful coach for this Dolphins team. Grier knows the strengths and weaknesses of our rival the Patriots so Grier could be the key component that could finally end the Patriots dominance in the AFC East.
Brian Flores has the potential to be one of the best coaches in Miami’s history if he can coach this young team and work with Grier and agree on the direction this team needs to go in to be better and break the name of a mediocre team.
This article was written by Tanner Elliott. Follow him on Twitter @Elliott302Tj
PRESS RELEASE: Miami Super Bowl host committee launches Super Bowl LIV host city campaign 'LIVE IT MIAMI'
“Hosting the Super Bowl goes beyond the game – it’s a celebration of the vibrant culture and rich history unique to Miami. Our campaign is an invitation for the world to join Miami and live it,” Miami Super Bowl Host Committee Chair Rodney Barreto said. “And we couldn’t be more excited to have someone like Pitbull bring this to life – he truly embodies Miami lifestyle and vibe, and its people.”
To officially start the clock, “LIVE IT MIAMI” colors will light up South Florida from Palm Beach to Miami Gardens to South Beach and Downtown Miami. The Miami Super Bowl Host Committee headquarters, the iconic 47-story Miami Tower in the heart of downtown, will shine bright with the campaign colors – an iconic Miami pink and a Florida-inspired ocean blue.
“The creative will dress the community leading up to the big game and during Super Bowl week across the counties and at Super Bowl LIVE,” Barreto added. “We are excited to kickoff our year and work with sponsors to ‘LIVE IT MIAMI.’”
Miami Super Bowl Host Committee chairman Barreto, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins & Hard Rock Stadium Owner Stephen Ross and Vice Chair, President & CEO Tom Garfinkel joined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee to receive the Super Bowl LIV game ball and officially launch “LIVE IT MIAMI.”
The Miami Super Bowl Host Committee also has launched significant community programs around the 2020 game. Local minority-owned, women, LGBT and disabled veteran-owned businesses have the opportunity to pursue contracts through the NFL’s supplier diversity program, Business Connect. The community also has the chance to participate as part of the 10,000 volunteers that will serve as city ambassadors during Super Bowl week.
The Miami Super Bowl Host Committee brings together our community’s top local business leaders, community representatives, tourism officials and football personnel around a common cause – making Super Bowl LIV a historic experience both for visitors and for locals across South Florida. On February 2, 2020, South Florida will host its record-breaking 11th game at the newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium.
Additionally, Super Bowl LIV will mark the culmination of the 100th season anniversary of the NFL, and will feature special events and activities throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as part of the festivities.
Also, as part of the celebration, Hard Rock Stadium will be illuminated in the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee colors of pink, blue and gold in anticipation of the festivities to unfold. The stadium will be lit through the evening today in celebration of the Handing Off Ceremony that occurred this morning.
Flores has been with the Patriots organization for eleven years, including the past three as linebackers coach. When defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left for the Detroit Lions last year, head coach Bill Belichick, who typically makes his assistants earn their titles, had Flores call the defensive plays during the 2018 season, serving as the de facto defensive coordinator, albeit without the title.
Flores was a two-year starter at linebacker for Boston College, and a part of four bowl-winning teams in his collegiate career. He initially joined the Patriots in 2004 as a scout, and quickly moved up in the organization. In each season where he served as either safeties coach (2012-15) or linebackers coach (2016-18), the defense ranked in the league’s top ten in points allowed, including number one in 2016.
Flores is held in high regard by both peers and players, and Belichick has said that Flores is a guy who is “never late to work or takes time off. Always about the team.”
Defensive end Trey Flowers chimes in, “He’s definitely a guy that demands a high standard of excellence. You can definitely sense that intensity in the meeting rooms, on the practice fields, just that passion for the gamer that he’s got to be perfect, be precise, be fundamentally sound and physical. He’s a guy that demands greatness.”
“He always demands a lot. He expects a lot,” added linebacker Kyle Van Noy. “You don’t want to let him down.”
Flores earned his bachelors (English) and masters degrees (Administrative Studies) from Boston College. He and his wife Jennifer have three children.
Several of Flores staff have been announced as well. As of this writing, they are as follows (former position noted in parenthesis).
Offensive consultant Jim Caldwell (former head coach, Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts)
Offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea (wide receivers coach, New England Patriots)
Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty (former offensive line coach, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Tight ends coach George Godsey (quarterbacks coach, Detroit Lions)
Wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell (wide receivers coach, New York Jets)
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham (linebackers coach, Green Bay Packers)
Defensive line coach Marion Hobby (defensive line, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Defensive assistant Rob Leonard (defensive assistant, New York Giants)
Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman (special teams coordinator, Buffalo Bills)
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
As the Dolphins prepare to announce their new head coach tomorrow, we, the fans, wait with anticipation and hope for what’s to come. The past two decades have been rough as a Dolphins fan to say the least. It’s been even rougher as a Dolphins fan who grew up in New England.
Resentment is an understatement. Hate is a better word. The fact that we have to wait until Monday to announce our new coach is maddening, simply because Brian Flores is coaching the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Again. There is nothing worse than watching Patriots fans bask in the glory of their nine Super Bowl appearances. But there could be a silver lining to the Patriots success when it comes to the future of the Miami Dolphins. I already feel dirty writing this….
But in between reading harassing texts and memes being sent to me from my Patriot-loving family bragging about Tom Brady and the Patriots’ fortunes, I think about what’s to come. What can a coach from the Patriots organization bring? My hope is stability and a winning culture. God knows I’ve seen it first-hand for the past 20 or so years. But what is the secret? What is the Patriot way? And how can it become the Dolphin way?
When asked about the longstanding success of the Patriots, Brian Flores said, “It’s about putting the team first.” Miami’s projected offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea, also currently with the Patriots, added, “I don’t think it’s complicated. It’s something that’s easier said than done. You have to have the right commitment.”
Both men talk of commitment and team. And this is where the Dolphins and Patriots begin to differ. And it starts with the owner. Stephen Ross has owned the Miami Dolphins since 2008. In that time, we have seen numerous head coaches, general managers, and star players. While Ross had no problem spending his money for the good of the team, he has failed in the aspect of commitment. He has been quick to make a change. He has searched for a new coach while having a coach under contract. He’s continually looked for the next big thing, the quick fix, and it hasn’t worked. It’s not how to build a team or a culture.
During Ross’ entire tenure, and for almost a decade prior, there has been one constant in New England. His name is Bill Belichick. He is a coach that knows how to get the most out of his players. He preaches the team first, next man up philosophy. He also brings in smart players. This allows for the Patriots to game plan better than anyone else. They are able to play differently each week. They play to their strengths and to the weaknesses of their opponents.
In Miami, on the other hand, the Dolphins seem to play their style of football regardless of their opponent or the situation. This has been evident so many times over the years. Whether it’s Wannstedt throwing the ball three straight times and punting with the lead in a close game after controlling the game on the ground all day. Or Sparano running the Wildcat for weeks after opponents figured it out. Or more recently, Adam Gase refusing to run a QB sneak on 3rd and inches or him calling a WR screen on 3rd and 20. These are all examples of bad coaching and the reason we are perennially a bad team.
On the topic of “team first” that Brian Flores preaches, we have also fallen short. Every year Miami brings in the big-time free agent. Every year it doesn’t work out. How many times can we sign a Mike Wallace or a Ndamukong Suh only to end up in cap hell and miss the playoffs?
But there is hope. Stephen Ross said all the right things when firing Adam Gase. He acknowledged the mistakes he has made. He talked about a complete rebuild. Reports say that Brian Flores was always the choice. And that makes sense. He comes from a program that his built the blueprint on success. He seems to command a room and has the respect of his players. He has reportedly put together a strong staff. Though many Patriots assistants have failed in the past, the idea of a rebuild in Miami gives Flores a clean slate to find his intelligent, team first players where as others have had to work within the constraint of their new team’s roster.
If Ross can let Chris Grier do his job as GM and Brian Flores can emulate what he has done in New England, we have the potential to build our own culture. We won’t have Bill Belichick or the system quarterback Tom Brady (that’s the bitterness talking). We won’t have the favor of the referees (more bitterness), but we will have the foundation of change. And if the stars align and the football gods smile upon us, then maybe, just maybe, we can have similar success. And ten years from now there will be a Jets fan writing a similar article about the Dolphin way.
And while I wait with anticipation and hope for this to happen, I am glad I moved out of the polar vortex that is New England, away from the unbearable Patriot fans (my family), to warm and sunny Florida.
I need a shower now…
This article was written by Tim Felder. Follow him on Twitter: @t_fins
I hope this letter finds you well. As you know, the Dolphins have already undergone a number of changes since we last saw you on the field. But I want to push that to the side for a second. Whether most Dolfans want to admit it or not, you deserve a proper goodbye. Not a dishonest goodbye that sings your praises, nor one filled with unwarranted, cruel insults, and obscenities. One that truly outlines where you started, where you've been, and where we are. You (and Dolfans) deserve this and I will do my best to deliver.
Remember how you felt just before the 2012 draft? I recall there being so much buzz swirling about the Fins having the 8th pick and if a franchise QB might be available to us. Andrew Luck and RG3 were surefire locks at 1 and 2,but, you were the one that intrigued many. Your 6'4 frame and natural athletic talent in propelled you, in the eyes of most draft experts, as the 3rd best QB in the draft. Sure...you had some areas of concern which included the fact that you were still learning the position (transitioning from WR). But that made you an even more interesting prospect. If you became the 3rd ranked QB with limited experience at the position, imagine what you could be with a knowledgeable coach who excelled in developing individuals at that position? Anyways, it took 7 picks but there you were, right in front of us....OUR FRANCHISE QB! You became the 1st quarterback to be drafted in the 1st round by the Fins since Dan Marino.
DAN BLEEPING MARINO!
Before I bring up your rookie season, I want to make something clear. I am making a point to say thank you at certain points in your career (This being the first). On 8/20/12, you were named the starter by Coach Philbin (Beating out David Garrard). I could only imagine the excitement you felt being named the 17th starting QB in franchise history. And I want to thank your for that. Looking back, I have seen guys like Chad Henne, Daunte Culpepper, AJ Feely and more start games for the Fins. Whether or not you were a hall of fame QB or average QB, you provided stability at a position that the Miami Dolphins lacked for years.
Thank you Ryan.
So picking things back up from there, you are getting ready to start the season With Joe Philbin as your Head Coach and Mike Sherman (Your former college HC) as your offensive coordinator. This was done to make things easier for you and help you early on. Looking back on this, I realize this was a not just a one time situation.
You completed your rookie season and there were as many ups as there was downs. Your first game was one to forget (You finished with 219 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions in the 30–10 loss to the Texans). But, you accomplished some pretty amazing milestones as well. here are some:
- You set the record for the longest run by a QB for 31 yards (previous was Pat White with 30)
- You became the 5th QB in franchise history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a season
- You set a franchise record for rookie QBs in passing yards, pass attempts, and completions
For the first time since Marino, you gave us excitement at the position.
In your second year, there are honestly only 2 things that I personally remember. One was that Week 2 win in Indianapolis against the Andrew Luck led Colts. I remember because It wad the first time in a while that I felt proud of my QB for beating the top pick from his draft. I truly felt it was a statement win for you...I really did. But, the second thing I remember from this season was the amount of times you were sacked. I'm sure you remember, but for the sake of the article, you were sacked a whopping 58 times...58! It was brutal! But every sack you took, you bounced right up and played through whatever pain you endured that season.
For that, Thank You Ryan.
In your 3rd season, your former college head coach and NFL offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was fired and Bill Lazor was hired. You needed to learn a new offense and build a relationship with new coach. I will never know how challenging it was,but you took on the challenge and did not complain one bit. In the opener, you beat Tom Brady and the Patriots which immediately got me pumped up for the season! However it didn't last and we ended the season with a loss to the NY Jets and missed the playoffs.
Just part of the growing process right?
Despite not making the playoffs, you were offered and signed a 6 year $96 million extension with the Dolphins. I, like other Fins fans, had my reservations about this. But lets' be honest, your offensive line was bad, your surrounding pieces weren't great, and you endured a tough recent OC coaching change. You were given the benefit of the doubt Ryan.
Looking back, we committed too quickly. At times you showed some flashes and potential of being "The Guy" but at other times you struggled with simple miscues softened by excuses. But, we bought in because we remembered the QB prison we lived in before you.
The season following the extension, you teased us yet again...Shame on you Ryan.
You set the all-time NFL record for consecutive completed passes with 25, completing your first 18 passes of the game and the final 7 of his previous game. You also became the 64th quarterback in NFL history to post a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, you became the 4th QB in NFL history to throw for over 3,000 yards in your first 4 seasons in the league.
But despite your individual accomplishments, the Dolphins finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs.
After this, the team was at a cross road. Especially after the faith put in in the form of an extension with no playoff appearances to show for it.
But as the theme continued through your career, you never had a "True" supporting cast and an offensive line. This was when the cosmic divide between DolFans truly began...
RT supporters-People who sold their mortgage and BELIEVED you can carry this team deep in the playoffs
RT Opposers-Those who saw through the flashes and stats and wanted a backup plan(or at least solid competition to elevate your play) or even wanted you out.
This was a pivotal point in your career.
In 2016, the Miami Dolphins brought in QB guru Adam Gase to be your head coach. Adam worked with the Great Peyton Manning and was specifically hired for you. He was supposed to be the key to unlock your success...
Supposed to be...
After a rough 1-4 start, you rallied the troops and helped put the Dolphins in a position to clinch a playoff spot. Then,your first major NFL injury occurred. Calais Campbell injured your leg and because of this, you could not play in your first playoff game (Despite being a big reason why we were in that position). Miami ended up making the playoffs with Matt Moore and lost but one point was clear...RYAN TANNEHILL CAN LEAD US TO THE PLAYOFFS. Especially with a supporting cast and a strong offensive line.
Despite the injury, it was clear you earned the respect of the team and the fans based on your performance and your determination to come back for that playoff game. You were OUR quarterback.
In 2017, you tore your ACL on a freakish non contact play in training camp which led to you missing the season. This led to the Jay Cutler experiment. (For your sake and mine, lets gloss over this).
Then came this past season (Your most pivotal and career defining season). We were all excited to see the big payoff. You seemed to break out of your shell, tweeting and interacting with fans on a level that you didn't before. The expectations were high as we held on to how you last performed in 2016. You showed us that you could be that franchise QB that can led us to the playoffs. And now that you were healthy, its time to put it all together...Right?
Coach Gase made things worse by not holding you accountable and protecting you from criticism. Fair or not, the perspective around the league and in Miami was that you have been coddled for far too long. Players were fed up with being blamed for your short comings.
Fair or not, this ultimately destroyed you in Miami.
We failed to make the playoffs, Coach Gase and Tannenbaum were fired, and now here we are. You are sitting and waiting to see how the front office and coaching staff will be built. And you await your ultimate fate.
Ryan, you need to know that this isn't personal. I truly do think that the backlash and frustration you have heard and felt is coming from a passionate place in fans. Fair or not, you were supposed to be the leader of this franchise when you signed that contract. But in the end, you couldn't meet the expectations set fourth of you. I admit that some were lofty and probably unattainable, but a lot of this blame has to be shouldered by you.
And honestly, now is the time...
Thank you for things like the Miamiracle, the records you set, and the consistency you provided for this franchise at the position. But its time for you to move on and start fresh somewhere else. This is something you need, but most importantly, what the Miami Dolphins needs to build towards a successful future.
Good Luck Ryan Tannehill.
This story was written by Carlos Camacho. Follow him on Twitter: @DolfansVoice
It's hard to believe this year marks the 34th anniversary of the last time the Miami Dolphins appeared in a Super Bowl, but here we are, three decades later. In 1984, Dan Marino demolished just about every NFL record into the stars on his way to engineering the Dolphins to a 14-2 record, an AFC Championship, and a trip to Super Bowl XIX to face off against Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. The battle of two Western Pennsylvania High School football legends. Dan Marino, a city boy from Central Catholic High School and Joe Montana from Ringgold High School about 25 miles south in Washington County in the coal mining town of Monongahela. The Dolphins would lose 38-16 in the title game, but it was automatically assumed that the Miami Dolphins would be back in no time with a QB like Marino. The future was looking bright. Nope. Never happened. Not since.
We sit here 34 years later wondering how it all went wrong and how Marino never got back to the Super Bowl. It's depressing to even discuss. He was 23 years old when that game ended. What went wrong over the next 34 years?
In 1985, the Dolphins won their 4th straight AFC East title and appeared in the AFC championship game where they lost to Tony Eason’s New England Patriots. Dan Marino had an offseason holdout after his record setting 1984 campaign and Mark Duper was injured for most of the first half of the season and the Miami Dolphins were only 5-4 through Week 9 before getting their act together to win the last 7 games.
In 1986, it fell apart and the Phin’s ended the season at 8-8. In the middle of the 1985 season, Shula gave up their 1st and 2nd round picks in 1986 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the hope that Hugh Green was the missing piece to the defensive puzzle. While Green went on to have solid years with Miami, he wasn’t the X factor that Shula was looking for. The Miami defense gave up an average of 34.5 points per game in all 8 of their losses. While Marino threw for 44 TD passes that season, they couldn’t overcome a porous defense.
1987 & 1988 were even bigger disappointments for Shula’s Dolphins. They recorded an 8-7 record in 1987 (NY Giants game was cancelled) and in 1988, Shula’s last losing season as Miami head coach, they went 6-10. In both years and in all 17 losses, their defense gave up an average of 28.74 points per game. The offense scored an average of 16.9 points per game in those losses.
From 1988 through the 1993 season, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed became Miami’s Achilles heel. Led by Harvard grad Marv Levy, the Buffalo Bills dynasty was as frustrating for Dolphins fans as the Patriots recent domination of the AFC East. Why? Because we had Dan Marino and Don Shula at the helm. Every time Marino took the field, we felt something good was going to happen. But this was a different era. To win in the NFL thought the 1980’s and 1990’s, a strong run game was required. And Miami never had one. We were a one- dimensional team for a long time. And every defensive coordinator knew it. #13 ruptured his Achilles tendon in October of 1993 and Scott Mitchell came onto the scene.
The 1994 season was the beginning of the end. While Marino won comeback player of the year with 30 TD passes and Miami won the AFC East , the Dolphins fell short in the divisional playoffs to the Chargers 22-21. Joe Robbie had completed the sale of majority ownership to Wayne Huizenga and Don Shula was being forced out of Miami behind closed doors. Shula would coach his last season in 1995 where Miami lost the wildcard game to Buffalo 37-22 and the Jimmy Johnson era was about to begin. Could the curse be over?
In 1996, former Hurricanes and Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson came to help Dan Marino get that elusive ring he had been waiting for. The three biggest things that happened in 1996 under Johnson’s watch was they drafted Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas and they had their first and ONLY 1000 rusher in Kareem Abdul-Jabaar under Dan Marino’s guidance since he was drafted. The years following never seemed to blossom the way Johnson’s Cowboys did. By the time Jimmy came to Miami, Dan was truly on his last legs. He had been beat up and was taped like a mummy when he took the field. His last game was a 62-7 drubbing by Jacksonville where Damon Huard played the 2nd half. It always broke my heart that Marino went out like that.
Marino led the league in passing yards per game four times, led the league in passing yards total five times, led the league in passing touchdowns three times and went to the playoffs 10 times.
One player during the entirety of Marino's career ran for 1,000 yards. John Elway was an all-time great quarterback drafted in 1983 like Marino -- he didn't win any Super Bowls until Terrell Davis showed up. Marino's defense wasn't ever consistently great either. Only five times in his 17-year career (1983, 1984, 1990, 1995 and 1998) did the Dolphins have a defense ranking top-10 in points allowed.
Run the ball and stop the run. The axioms remain true today to a degree but they were requirements in the '80s and (much of the) '90s if you wanted to win Super Bowls. It was just a different era.
All of this is to point out the Dolphins had an all-time great quarterback on their roster playing at a high level and staying relatively healthy (despite taking a beating) for 17 years. SEVENTEEN YEARS. In an era where passing wasn't encouraged and defenses could destroy quarterbacks. If Marino played now he would likely average 5,000 yards a year over a decade stretch and single-handedly take the Fins to multiple Super Bowls.
Time and talent conspired against him, and Miami failing to win a title with one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks is a flat-out shame.
Since Dan Marino hung up his spikes, the Miami Dolphins organization has been a disaster marred with terrible decisions, terrible ownership, terrible coaching and terrible overall draft choices. The fan base is as fractured as any. The current owner who I can’t even bring myself to type his name has been taking this fan base on a wild goose chase. Why should we believe that this time will be different?
This story was written by James Barbaro. Follow him on Twitter @thebigbear1977
Pat Flaherty, the former offensive line coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is rumored to be heading to Miami in the same capacity.
Flaherty, 62, has a long history in coaching, having started as the head coach of Delone Catholic High School (McSherrystown, PA) in 1978. He then spent 20 years at the collegiate level, coaching both the offensive and defensive lines in various stints. He joined the Washington Redskins in 2000 as the tight ends coach, moved to the same job with the Chicago Bears for three years, and has since been an offensive line coach for the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and the Jaguars.
Flaherty won two Super Bowls (XLII and XLVVI) with the Giants during his years in New York. He was one of three assistants fired at the end of a disappointing Jaguars season, but is very well respected in NFL circles.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
Hobby was the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line coach for the past two years. He’s a former defensive end who played for Minnesota and New England from 1990-92, then spent ten years climbing the college coaching ranks before landing in New Orleans as the defensive ends coach in 2006-07. He then spent three years at Duke as the Blue Devils defensive coordinator before spending six years in the same role for Clemson, helping them to the national championship in 2016.
Leonard has been an assistant coach with the New York Giants since 2013, working with defensive ends and linebackers. He worked with new Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham during the 2016-17 seasons, was originally hired by Tom Coughlin, and has survived two coaching changes in his stint with the Giants.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
It was September 1st, 1996. With 12:51 remaining in the 4th quarter, Patriots wide receiver Shawn Jefferson takes an end around and is met by Dolphins rookie linebacker Zach Thomas. He is hit hard. Real hard. So hard he doesn’t get up. So hard he spends the night at Jackson Memorial Hospital. As for the man that hit him, this was one of the first of his 1,076 tackles. This was the day he became my favorite football player. This was also his first memorable moment of a Hall of Fame-worthy career. The question is, why isn’t he in it yet?
Zach Thomas was born and raised in Pampa, Texas. He had football in his blood. He was a high school football state champion and two-time All-American at Texas Tech. He had accolades deserving of the NFL. The problem was he was only 5’11”.
NFL scouts felt he was too small to play middle linebacker in the NFL. Jimmy Johnson decided to take a chance on Zach Thomas and drafted him in the 5th round. But even after being drafted, he faced adversity. Veteran Jack Del Rio was signed and expected to be the starter. But Thomas impressed the team from the moment he put his pads on. Not only was he named the starter on opening day, but the team cut Del Rio shortly after.
Over the next 12 seasons, Zach Thomas would not relinquish that starter role. Instead, he would go on to have 10 straight seasons with 100 tackles or more. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro. He and his brother-in-law Jason Taylor would pair to lead one of the best defenses in all of football for years. But all these accomplishments haven’t helped Thomas reach Canton. Jason Taylor was voted in to the Hall on his first try and enshrined last year. Thomas still waits.
Of the 29 linebackers already enshrined, only one has more tackles. The main comparison made to Thomas is Brian Urlacher. Urlacher was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and deservedly so. He led the Bears’ defense to Super Bowl XLI. He won a Defensive Player of the Year award. But a closer look at the numbers help make the case for Zach Thomas to be joining him there. Thomas actually has more tackles, assists, forced fumbles, Pro Bowls, and All-Pro awards. Short of overall team success, and maybe being overshadowed by Taylor who plays a flashier position, Zach Thomas’ resume speaks for itself.
So why have the 46 voters not called Thomas’ name? The man had few weaknesses on the field. But he was undersized and played for the Miami Dolphins. Not only have the Dolphins not been to a Super Bowl since 1984, but Miami-Fort Lauderdale is only the 16th largest media market in the U.S. Chicago, where Urlacher played his whole career, is 3rd. This could definitely play a part.
Another issue that many athletes have is they hold on too long. After injuries derailed his last season with Miami, Thomas attempted to continue to play and signed for one season with the Dallas Cowboys and then the next season with the Kansas City Chiefs. The last attempt was futile, as he was concussed and cut during training camp.
To the average fan, Zach Thomas had a lot to overcome. Being undersized and playing for an average team didn’t help sell jerseys. Fans are enamored with sacks, TDs, and interceptions. Not tackles. Fans enjoy players with movie star looks and endorsement deals. Zach Thomas had none of these things. What he did have was talent. And while that might not be a big draw to the average fan, it’s shameful that he is also overlooked by the Hall voters. This year was the closest Zach Thomas came to getting the call. Could 2019 finally be the year?
This article was written by Tim Felder. Follow him on Twitter: @t_fins
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