The Miami Dolphins have tried to perfect the art of “tanking”, or intentionally clearing a roster of all its good players in order to try and build a new campaign or potential dynasty. The Dolphins have spent the off-season and 2019 regular season clearing up cap space and prepping for the future.
Some moves include the releases and trades of players such as defensive-ends Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, and William Hayes, linebacker Kiko Alonso, safety T.J. McDonald, QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Kenyan Drake, LT Laremy Tunsil, and many more.
These moves were supposedly made to better the team for the future, but in reality, they only made the situation worse. We will start by discussing former players, and then talking about their current situation.
Why Start Fresh???
Flashback to 2018. After Week 3, the Dolphins were looking like a potential playoff team behind New England after an underrated 3-0 start. With injuries piling up and performance beginning to lack, the Fins stumbled into a 7-9 record, and also causing a Domino Effect onto Adam Gase’s status as a head coach.
Enter Brian Flores, a defensive mastermind from New England who helped create the iconic 2019 defense that we all know and fear today. The Dolphins opted to start out fresh, and bring in some mediocre free agents to only be options for a short while. The problem? The Dolphins went too far with this rebuild.
A lot of these players did not need to be released and could have easily been built off of. Ryan Tannehill was the Dolphins quarterback for almost his entire career, until he was given the boot to Tennessee. The only way to describe his play was “decent”. This could have partly been due to the struggling team around him in the past. The truth of the matter is, he is doing better in Tennessee because he has the overall support.
He is now looking to be the Titans starting quarterback after compiling 20 TDs and 6 INTs in only 9 games started and has a career high of 70% completion percentage and 9.6 yards per throw as an average. When Tannehill was given clarity from Miami, it seems as though he is playing a lot better elsewhere. Could this have been the start of a trend?
Not only did he succeed, but Kenyan Drake had a breakout stretch to end 2019. He has been used very little in Miami, playing in the shadows of Jay Ajayi and Frank Gore.
Ever since he was traded to the Cardinals, in his 7 games for Arizona, he has rushed for 583 yards, and is only 0.1 yards away from tying his career most yards per carry in a season, along with having career highs in longest rush attempt in a season, yards per game, and rushing attempts per game.
Minkah Fitzpatrick had been moved around the defense in 2018 in Miami, and therefore, he never found comfort at one position. He showed flashes, but never got to reveal his full potential at the free safety position.
After his trade to Pittsburgh, he has emerged as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, totaling 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries along with 2 touchdowns in his career in Pittsburgh so far.
Sending away Laremy Tunsil was also a terrible move. A franchise left tackle, especially someone you invested a whole 1st round pick into, should not be traded. Guys like him are hard to come around with his pass blocking and consistency.
Watson and the Texans now have their blindside blocker of the future and rightfully gave up a lot for him. Tunsil has even been noticed of his abilities in the trenches, and was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl. Overall, with the potential they had and have shown on their new teams, there is no reason for Miami to have gotten rid of these players.
2019 Season Overall
This season was an utter failure. The future will also end up very average. This team had the players to build off of, yet threw it away, and gave a lot of other positions of need. For one, there is already a lot of cap space available, and if there are thoughts of signing EVERY top free agent, almost all of the top players end up resigning to their respective teams.
With a roster this awful in 2019, there is no reason as to why they could not obtain the #1 overall pick. Somehow, the Dolphins will now be picking at #5 and will miss out on top players like Andrew Thomas and Chase Young all because of their attempts at rebuilding.
Josh Rosen was traded for a 2nd round pick. While the issue could be on the team, he played very bad under center, going for 567 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions on a 52% completion percentage. The Dolphins also traded for veteran cornerback Aqib Talib, who is getting old and has regressed in LA. The Dolphins brass put all their praise into Charles Harris to dominate on the edge, yet he was outplayed by Vince Biegel and Taco Charlton, only producing half a sack in the entire season.
The Dolphins have a lot of work to do. If they had built off their pre-existing players, they could have easily obtained stars at positions of need, and built off the team they had at the moment. Instead, they will be scrambling for all the top players they could get their hands on.
The teams they traded with to obtain first rounders will all likely make the playoffs as well. That means, the Dolphins will have later first round picks, while already missing on the #1 pick. Already, the Dolphins need a fresh QB, RB, LT, RT, RG and C on offense. That does not exclude Michael Deiter’s poor play, allowing 6 sacks in his position at left guard, 3rd most in the NFL.
Defensively, the Dolphins would need an interior LE, they need starting caliber edge rushers on both sides, and potentially a slot corner, if Eric Rowe stays at strong safety, which also is an unsure position accounting to how Rowe playing at corner, even though he plays much better at safety. The Fins must nail these next few years if they want to become relevant again.