For the longest time, the Miami Dolphins have been trying to use band-aids to stop bleeding that needed much more effort put it into it; signing big splash free agents like Ndamukong Suh, bringing in veterans with experience like Danny Amendola and Frank Gore in an attempt to shore up a roster that had potential but could never get over the hump.
And at the forefront of all of that was owner Stephen Ross, who was always accused of not seeing the big picture and seeing that a full rebuild was necessary, instead allowing his coaches and front office executives to continue going around in circles, desperately trying to escape the mediocrity of the past decade while never truly refueling to make a proper run.
On Monday morning, that all came to a screeching halt, as Ross addressed the media and informed everyone that it was time the Dolphins took a new approach, one that he hadn't taken during his entire tenure as owner.
"We’ve been operating under a philosophy that we had a good young roster and it needed maybe free agents and draft choices and we’d be very competitive." Ross said. "To keep operating under that philosophy would be like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and really expecting a different result. So I thought it was time for the organization to take a different approach, much like when I do in my business. I know everything I’ve done, we’re always the best-in-class and we’re on top, and that’s what I expect to be on the football field as well as an organization."
That is perhaps the most interesting statement of all, that Ross realizes that continuing down this path is insanity, that endlessly trying to push for something that's so clearly out of reach is just not smart. So that makes what he said next even more telling.
"Basically, the thought is we’re going to look to really build this organization based on our needs," He said. "And if it takes a year or so – two years, three years – we’re going to be there and we’re going to be an organization."
There it is, right there. If it takes a year, two years, three years, whatever. That sounds like the definition of a rebuild, taking a step back and coming to the realization that the team isn't good, and despite what everyone in his ear tried to say, they aren't close to being good.
You have to rest for a while and recharge before you can sprint for the finish line.
So what does this mean? It means no more spending money on older free agents who would only act as progress-blockers for younger players, it means focusing on building through the draft and accepting that sometimes what's best for a franchise is to lose for a few years in order to pave the way for something elite.
It also means that the time has come to trade assets in order to build up resources for a roster rebuild in the future. What does this mean for the likes of Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, Andre Branch, Robert Quinn, Kiko Alonso, Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald, Ryan Tannehill, and others on the roster?
In the case of Howard and Drake, those two would be the most likely to get high returns on the trading block: Howard still has one more year on his rookie deal, and he's already cemented himself as an elite cornerback. Drake has shown that he has the ability to be an elite weapon, and he was extremely frustrated with now former head coach Adam Gase's unwillingness to give him a larger workload.
By the same token, there is the matter of having cornerstone players who should be built around, and both Howard and Drake fit that bill. The Dolphins are expected to dump a lot of bad contracts in the upcoming offseason, leaving room to sign elite talent like Howard, Drake and possibly even Laremy Tunsil to the contracts they'll be looking for.
Ultimately, these decisions will now fall at the feet of Chris Grier, who was retained after the Gase firing and Mike Tannenbaum reassignment. Gone are the days where the coach and the GMs would all work together and speak directly to Ross. The hierarchy has been streamlined to the way it should have been long ago. Grier is in charge, and there will be no more asking questions regarding who did what.
"Chris (Grier) will have total responsibility of leading the organization." Ross said. "He will work together with a new coach. He will make all football decisions and report to me. I think that as we build this roster, we have a great young roster today with some key players to build upon, but we’re going to build it the right way, bringing in new people who will want to win, really creating that winning attitude."
It's a step in the right direction for a franchise that has been lost in the dark for far too long. It's time to start the painful trek towards true greatness again, and Ross finally seems to have learned how to make it happen.
"If you look back, look what we’ve done every year since I’ve been here." Ross said. "If we keep doing that, where are we going to be? We’ll be anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6. That’s not good enough. I would hope I don’t have to go 3-13; but whatever it’s going to take, we’re going to build that organization with the right players that want to win. They’re coming here to win.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Latest Dolphins News