Miami Dolphins fans have been dreaming about a franchise quarterback for two decades now.
The quest has gone unrequited since Dan Marino retired. So many have tried and been found wanting that you wonder if anyone in Miami would recognize a franchise quarterback when they saw one.
Well, it’s not that tough, folks. One was on display Monday night in Dolphins country in a Miami stadium.
Unfortunately, Patrick Mahomes is in town to play for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 against the San Francisco 49ers. Watching him at the podium at the opening night event of Super Bowl week at Marlins Park it was evident, this is what you want.
This is what Miami needs. Someone like Mahomes.
Trade up if necessary
The Chiefs recognized the potential when Mahomes was coming out of Texas Tech and traded two first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Buffalo Bills to select him 10th overall in 2017.
That is what the Dolphins must do to break out of the quarterback doldrums.
Maybe it is Tua Tagovailoa, provided he aces his medical exams. Or perhaps someone like Utah State’s Jordan Love, who drew the interest of NFL talent evaluators last week at the Senior Bowl, including Dolphins officials.
If they identify that elusive quarterback of the future anywhere in this draft crop, GM Chris Grier must do whatever it takes to get him, even if that requires dealing valuable draft capital to move up from Miami’s current No. 5 spot in April’s draft.
Notably, Love has elicited comparisons to Mahomes, and doesn’t shy away from it.
“We’ve both got strong arms. [Mahomes] obviously makes ridiculous throws off schedule and stuff like that, some I’ve seen and tried to model my game to make throws like that,” Love said at the Senior Bowl. “I hope to be on the same platform as him.”
Not easy to get back to Super Bowl
Right now Mahomes has the grandest platform, the one every player aspires to.
Watching him close up Monday for nearly an hour fielding all sorts of questions, serious and whimsical, the first thing that stands out is how young he looks. Younger than his 24 years, though he has already accomplished so much.
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) January 28, 2020
“I want to be back here, I want to play in multiple Super Bowls. But every opportunity you get here you know how hard it is. So I just want to maximize that,” he said.
One can’t help recalling that Marino was also a fresh-faced kid with curly hair when he came to Miami and set the league on fire in the early ’80s. Danny Boy got to the Super Bowl in his second season and never got back.
The Dolphins are still looking for another quarterback to get them back to this platform, as Miami hosts the big game for a record 11th time.
Someone like Mahomes, whose rocket arm and electric ability may command the NFL’s first $200 million contract.
Ghosts of Dolphins dreams
Mahomes was as comfortable and patient in the spotlight Monday as he is in the pocket dodging pass rushers and improvising. He deftly handled every surprise thrown his way — Do you believe in ghosts? Yes he does, though he hasn’t seen one.
— Craig Davis (@CraigDavisRuns) January 28, 2020
He should have known, the ghosts of Dolphins broken dreams are everywhere around here.
“I want to be known as a great football player, but I also want people to know me as a great person,” Mahomes said.
Exactly what Miami has been searching for all of these years.
Keep in mind, franchise quarterbacks come in different forms. The 49ers have one in Jimmy Garoppolo, though they haven’t relied on him to carry the team on his back like the Chiefs do with Mahomes.
Don’t underestimate Garoppolo
But Garoppolo showed he can do that after the in-season trade with the Patriots in 2017, going 5-0 in five starts with a team that was 1-10 when he arrived.
Don’t be surprised if Garoppolo ends up being the difference in Super Bowl 54 when the Chiefs gear up to stop the 49ers’ vaunted running game and coach Kyle Shanahan calls on Garoppolo to counter it with play-action. He’s got the arm and talented receivers to do so.
Garoppolo’s 1,250 yards in his first four starts with the 49ers in 2017 was a record. It was enough to earn a five-year, $137.5 million contract the next offseason.
“That’s a huge commitment and it’s hard to make a judgment on people over a six-week time when you’re committing that type of money,” Shanahan said Monday night.
“He came in for six weeks, he won our team, he won me over; I think he won our town over. All anyone has to do is watch the games he played in and after six weeks the decision was very easy.”
That’s all Dolfans have been asking: Wow us. Win us over.
Like Marino did. Like Mahomes has done in Kansas City while breaking some of Marino’s most cherished records.
We can’t be sure what the Dolphins braintrust is thinking about the quarterbacks available. Even they can’t be sure about Tua’s recovery from hip surgery, though that should become clearer by the Combine and before draft day.
All we know is the prototype is in Miami right now, the son of a former major-league journeyman pitcher. He belongs to Kansas City.
That’s your mission, Dolphins. Identify the next Patrick Mahomes and do whatever it takes to bring him to Miami.
Simple as that? Hell, yes!
Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns