Written by Chris Perkins of the Sun-Sentinel
The dark cloud hovering over the Dolphins for the past year is still producing publicity storms. The latest is defensive end Dion Jordan, the No. 3 pick of the 2013 draft.
Jordan, praised for adding about 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason, was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2014 season on Thursday for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing drugs. There’s no evidence Jordan’s new physique is linked to his suspension, so let’s stick to what we know.
What we know is this is another bad news episode for the Dolphins, a team that has been immersed in a string of bad news events for almost a year.
Each of these events has added to the perception that coach Joe Philbin and owner Steve Ross still don’t have a firm grasp on their organization.
Jordan said in a statement that his suspension was caused by “stimulants that are banned under the NFL policy.” He also said he was “very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, coaches, Stephen Ross, the entire Dolphins organization, fans and my family as well.”
That’s fine. But in the end this is just another episode to make fans shake their heads.
The current bad news cycle began on July 24, when center Mike Pouncey and his twin brother, Maurkice, donned those “Free Hernandez” hats during their birthday celebration.
Since that time there’s been Mike Pouncey being served with a grand jury subpoena related to the Hernandez case, former tackle Jonathan Martin leaving the team under bullying allegations, a pair of disappointing season-ending losses, and the Wells Report, which substantiated Martin’s allegations and cost starting both guards (Richie Incognito and John Jerry), the offensive line coach and head trainer their jobs.
That was followed by Mike Pouncey’s ill-advised draft-night tweet about rookie hazing, safety Don Jones’ ill-advised draft-night tweet about Michael Sam, the openly-gay St. Louis draftee, and the announcement of surgeries for Mike Pouncey and running back Knowshon Moreno.
Sure, there have been things to celebrate since July 24.
The Dolphins signed Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert in free agency and addressed a major offensive line need in the draft by selecting right tackle Ja’Wuan James in the first round.
They also hired a new general manager (Dennis Hickey), a new offensive coordinator (Bill Lazor), and finally got their Sun Life Stadium renovation deal approved.
But most of the Dolphins’ publicity since July 24 has been bad.
And curiously, that might be where Jordan’s suspension hurts most, in the publicity department.
Jordan, who produced two sacks and 26 tackles last season, appeared to be on the upswing in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) and minicamp. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was moving him around in formations and Jordan seemed to have a much better grasp on things than he did as a rookie.
But even though Jordan appeared on his way to being a key reserve and special teams player this season, he wasn’t going to start over Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks last season). So in that sense Jordan’s on-field loss is fairly minimal.
This loss hurts more when people reflect on the events of the past year and wonder whether Philbin has gained control over this team.
In truth, there’s no way Philbin could have prevented Jordan’s suspension. But all of these incidents, when combined with Philbin’s 15-17 record, chip away at his credibility.
And it chips away at the Dolphins’ credibility nationally and locally.
Jordan can re-gain his good name with a few good performances upon his return in October. It’ll take the Dolphins a lot longer to re-gain their good name.
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