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
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