In order to repeat, the Dolphins have to win the offseason.
That means, they need to have coaches that will work diligently and continue to perfect the blueprint set forth by head coach Adam Gase and his bosses.
It seemed like ages ago when I had a fear and a real trepidation as a Dolphins fan of an offseason after an improbable playoff run.
I pleaded with the Dolphins asking them not to make the playoffs.
In 2008, the Dolphins made a series of questionable moves and started the parade of poor drafts after the first round. No longer was there a popularity contest in drafting several offensive lineman in the second round and then a gimmicky quarterback in Pat White. It seemed like that 2009 draft got off to a rocky start and quickly snowballed into lack luster and mediocre season performances.
The Dolphins got caught up with the Wild Cat while the rest of the NFL caught on and learned to defend it.
Of the Dolphins drafts since 2009, only Koa Misi, Reshad Jones, Ryan Tannehill, and Mike Pouncey remain with the team. If you look at draft classes, Tannehill is the only player left from the 2012 draft class. The 2013 class has only Dion Jordan (who’s reportedly on his way out) and Dion Sims who stands to be a free agent.
From 2014, Jarvis Landry Terrance Fede, Ja’Wuan James, and Walt Aikens remain. It’s a true shame the Dolphins have not drafted well and as a result sees there 1s, 2s, and 3s playing elsewhere on other teams.
I am fearful now and I was fearful then because as a fan and as a writer I want to know what the plan is for the Dolphins to exceed their output in wins and playoff wins.
I as many fans do, want them to win the Super Bowl.
However, here’s where it gets murky and not even Bill Parcells and his lieutenants could figure it out, you don’t win because of some crazy spending in the offseason.
Case and point, the Green Bay Packers have seldom spent on free agents. The Packers have several players that have been mainstays on their team.
They have been to the playoffs and won division titles as well as a Super Bowl with that mindset.
This offseason is no different for the Dolphins and the potential 40 million plus in cap space is an aberration that should be taken lightly and should consider the contracts that fans wish to see offered to the likes of Kenny Stills and down the road to Jarvis Landry. Not to mention-payment to Tannehill comes due in the offseason in the form of a roster bonus.
For one, organizations win because they are able to piece together enough talent, have a common goal, and do their collective jobs as a team.
Looking at the Dolphins core receivers, Landry is a slot receiver and serves as big of a role as ever when the running game shuts down. When Landry has excelled, it’s been on short passes where he has used his legs and his eyes to seek extra yardage.
Likewise, Kenny Stills is more than just a deep threat in that he became the go-to receiver down the stretch in the red zone. Having Stills get open was a dream come true for both Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore and it wasn’t even close in terms of how he was being defended.
On the other side of the ball, there are questions on the defensive line and if Cameron Wake has played his final game.
In addition, safety Reshad Jones needs to have some comeback player in him of the year in 2017 to reach the heights he set as a benchmark early in the season in that he was all over the ball.
Just to pivot away from what Wake has meant to this organization, perhaps no defensive player has meant more in Reshad Jones surviving three regimes-Sparano-Philbin-and now Gase.
It’s no secret that Jones won’t come back stronger than ever in 2017, but will he be durable enough to handle a 20 plus game season. That’s really all I’m asking on Twitter.
I realize he’s the best talent on defense in the secondary and I realize he’s a heck of a leader in and out of the locker room.
For every breakdown that was witnessed on Sunday versus the Steelers, Jones would have diagnosed the formation and made those plays and Le’Veon Bell would’ve been stopped in his tracks.
We know the Dolphins missed Jones who made up for what the Dolphins didn’t have- a presence at OLB.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-Jones could be the odd man out. Why I believe this is why he played against Buffalo and then shut it down-perhaps he could have done what Pouncey tried to do-try to heal and then comeback in the final games.
Maybe his torn-shoulder was so beat up that he had to get surgery and be placed on IR. Perhaps it extended his career a few years.
We know that Jones probably isn’t going to pull the same stunt he did last off season-threaten to sit out for an extension. He has too much to prove in 2017 and getting paid nearly as well won’t happen if he doesn’t play at a high level.
Bottom line, the Dolphins have some decisions to make. They have some slicing of the pie to do so to speak.
Could both Ryan Tannehill and Ndamukong Suh handle another restructuring of their contracts?
Might Branden Albert who played poorly in the playoffs make way for Laremy Tunsil and be moved inside and also by the way be asked to restructure his contract?
Both GM Chris Grier and VP Mike Tannenbaum have to figure out how to best structure this team so there is optimal depth at every position and not have a repeat of 2016 with several starters being placed on IR.
It’s clearly a miracle the Dolphins lasted as long as round one of the playoffs. Next year should be about improving in wins and success in the playoffs and to get there-the Dolphins brass will make those tough decisions and have to live with them.