Usually when a change is made at the top, it has a trickle effect throughout the entire organization.
So once Miami moved on from Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier was handed the keys, a shift in philosophy was sure to follow.
And whether it be trading a second-round pick for Josh Rosen or signing an undrafted free agent with plenty of ‘juicy’ history, what the Dolphins’ organization has done this offseason is “different.”
For years, the Dolphins were more concerned about their public image than giving a mulligan to talented players. But Brian Flores, who has mentored under Bill Belichick, believes in second chances. And that has been evident more than ever this offseason.
Aside from giving players like Eric Rowe and Chris Reed, low risk, high-reward contracts, the Dolphins are taking fliers on players with “character concerns.” And no we’re not talking about the fabricated issues some South Florida media have with Rosen.
For example, Miami signed Preston Williams, the undrafted wide receiver who has had a troubled past. Williams was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge after reportedly pushing his girlfriend out of the way, as he tried to leave their apartment. Williams was forced to sit out the 2017 season after transferring from Tennessee, and was later suspended for part of the 2018 season. His off the field troubles forced the talented wide receiver to go undrafted.
When Williams was asked what he’s learned from his off the field troubles, he said this. “You have to be a professional on the field and off the field. I just try to stay clean and do what I’m supposed to do.”
Williams isn’t the only ‘bad boy’ the Dolphins took a flier on this offseason. Yesterday, Miami signed former Hurricane’s running back Mark Walton. Walton, 22, has been arrested three times over the last several months. Most recently, for carrying a concealed weapon and marijuana possession. And we all saw the video of him ripping the taser off and breaking away from cops with his 4.4 speed. That was his third arrest in as recent months.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said this regarding Walton and second chances.
“I’d say I think … I think people deserve a second chance. I believe that. I think that’s the case. I don’t want to judge people based on one incident (or) two incidents. I think it’s a case-by-case situation for a player and just for people in general. That’s kind of my stance.”
Whether you agree or disagree with what these players have done off the field, this regime believes the talent on the field is worth the black eye that could follow.
However, the reward is far greater than the risk, especially for the Dolphins, who need elite potential wherever they can find it as they rebuild. Williams has the potential to be a #1 wide receiver and Walton was highly regarded out of college. Both players have the chance to make an impact in 2019 and beyond. And although no one knows how this will play out, this change in philosophies is a breath of fresh air. And that’s all we can ask for, after so many years of mediocrity.
Josh Houtz (@Houtz) contributes to Smark Your Territory and is the co-host of Fantasy On Five. Photo by Tony Capobianco.