By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins now know their full schedule and preparation begins for their Week 1 match-up against New England, up north at Foxborough. Much like Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, Dolphins head man Brian Flores is likely in full strategy mode, with only the opening week match-up in his mind. However, for the rest of us, we can look up and down the schedule, pick out wins and losses, and of course make predictions on where Miami will finish and who they will defeat.
Following a massive influx of talent, both in free agency and the draft, and player acquisitions in a deal that netted running back Matt Breida, 23 new Dolphins don the Orange and Aqua. That number is dangerously close to half the full roster allowance of 53, not including practice squad players.
It is these additions, which include a strengthened offensive line, an upgraded defensive secondary, and depth at linebacker and defensive line to name a few, that can easily spike Miami’s 2019-win total of 5 through the roof in 2020. And let us be clear, “through the roof” in football, is basically set at four game here, which is nearly double their previous year win total.
Now, let me ask you this…Would 5 wins year one- and 9-wins year two in a rebuild with a fresh young quarterback ready to step in for 2021 be something you might be interested in?
Of course, it would be!
This is where this franchise is right now, and we all must enter 2020 with tempered, yet Great Expectations. Much like the epic work of Charles Dickens, there is foreshadowing and symbolism all over this 2020 Dolphins team. While a rejuvenated fan base is ready to reach for the stars after team benefactor Stephen Ross put everything he could into building the home for his team, and putting the right people in place, expectations are at an all-time high.
Yet, as quickly as we all want to finish the novel, and get to the final chapter, the NFL season is not a Cliff-Notes short-cut. Like any quality student, to get through a book like that is to get through the NFL season. It requires dedication, understanding and preparation to come out more knowledgeable than you went in. The co-authors of this rebuild, Chris Grier and Brian Flores are now ready to send their characters out into the NFL wild, which will eventually be led by lead protagonist, rookie quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
Talk about Great Expectations…
No player in the 2020 class has the career pressure on him than the fifth overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft. Number 1 has the sole job of becoming the franchise’s next savior; greater than most rookie quarterbacks. The title of “greatest” seems to already be given to him in the eyes of some, and for that, I beg and plead to again, temper those expectations. Believe it or not, I imagine in a perfect world, the rookie does not throw a pass in 2020.
That could be a debate for another day, but to me, the way to strengthen the future of this team, is to utilize veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to further mold and gel this team to compete in a weak division where 9 wins could potentially claim it. Should he succeed in this, there is no reason at all to bench him in favor of a young gun, who is expected to be a 10+ year staple of a franchise.
On the flip side, should Fitz-magic take a tragic turn, much like parts of the Dickens novel, there is no reason to set up Tua for a risky proposition in a dead-season for “development.” The play in this case, and perhaps first contingency to Fitzpatrick… is Josh Rosen. Simply to hope and pray Rosen could put together a few solid games to spike potential trade value, as currently, it is arguable he could not net a 6th rounder back in a potential deal. The only way to increase his value to maybe a 4th rounder, is to play him… if Fitz falters.
2020 should very much be the year Tua pulls an Aaron Rodgers/Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes and simply sit, watch, and learn. As for a Week 17 Mahomes-like rookie teaser game, I would not expect, nor endorse, throwing a brand-new franchise centerpiece out in Buffalo in January. The weather will not suit the risk/reward proposition there.
The Great Expectations of this team, and its new quarterback is not a quick read. It is a literal and figurative marathon and not a sprint. The time to settle in for the long-haul of this process is now, and while there could be parts of the novel that run long, and perhaps not as exciting as most want, the overall work could end up, just as the written story from the 19th century did in time...
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman
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