Rebellions are built on hope.
The Miami Dolphins escaped New England with a 27-24 victory on Sunday. More importantly — they have the Death Star plans.
We’ve been here before. The empire is crumbling – the blueprints are in place. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The Dolphins were on track to be the NFL’s worse team.
However, they started winning.
“I mean, every win, and any win is a big one to me,” coach Brian Flores said after Sunday’s win. “[The Patriots are a] very good football team. Great coaches, great players. This is a tough environment. It’s hard to win on the road in this league. So, our guys played hard, they competed for 60 minutes. It took all 60 minutes. And I’m proud of that group, I am proud of that group.”
Flores accomplished what no Dolphins coach has done since 2008 — win in New England.
Not only did the the Dolphins win a game New England, but the Patriots prepared for the game like the playoffs had already begun. Not only were the Dolphins 16-point underdogs, but the Patriots entered the game with a 61-0 record at home against AFC teams with a losing record.
DeVante Parker and Eric Rowe signed one-year prove it deals. Rowe established himself as a physical safety after struggling at cornerback for roughly half the season. Not only did he shut down top-tier tight ends like Zach Ertiz, but he returned to Massachusetts with a present for the Patriots faithful — a pick-six of Tom Brady.
Parker was left-for-dead after four subpar seasons in which he didn’t play a full season and had a total of nine career touchdowns. Coach Flores shipped out plenty of players who didn’t fit his vision. He was focused on players who were team oriented and worked on their craft each and every day. Despite rumors of Parker not fitting the model, coach Flores brought Parker back to Miami.
1,202 yards and nine touchdowns later, Parker has leaped into the conversation as one of the league’s best receivers. The Parker “games” that were once flashes in the plans turned into a consistent showing from the receiver. He finished with 13 games with at least 50 yards or more. Parker’s coming out party came on Dec. 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He showcased his ability to not only be a consistent receiver for whomever Miami’s signal caller may be moving forward, but to flat out take over a game with the two-touchdown and 159-yard performance.
We’ve been here before. The Dolphins finished the season on a good note — why should we believe the Dolphins are headed in the right direction?
Optimism has been just that surrounding the Miami Dolphins in past years, but the growth the roster, especially Parker and Rowe, shows that the hope and potential surrounding this team can manifest itself into a franchise that can take down the Patriots as the class of the AFC East.
I understand what you’re thinking. It was one season. It is crazy to even discuss a 5-11 team upending the empire that has controlled the AFC for two decades. Of course, it is up to Chris Grier and the Dolphins organization to continue to get better and continue to make the right moves. However, Sunday’s victory in New England provided the Dolphins with the best-ammunition possible — hope.
With a new decade comes new possibilities. The Dolphins are locked and loaded with the opportunity to make every and any move they want to this off season.
With a new year and a new decade, its time to view the Miami Dolphins with a fresh perspective.
Miami’s way is the “right” way
With the season over there is nothing holding back the waves of mock drafts that will come crushing through timelines, web searches and your daily programming.
The Ravens are entering the postseason as the NFL’s best team. The last pick of the first round in 2019 is leading the way.
Patrick Mahomes, the league’s reigning MVP, is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs because the franchise moved up in the draft to take him.
Russell Wilson, the cornerstone of the Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl champion, was drafted in the third round of NFL draft. That Brady guy I mentioned earlier — sixth round.
The San Francisco 49ers traded a second round pick for a quarterback with two career starts. After finishing the regular season with a 7-1 record on the road and a 13-3 record overall, San Fran and Jimmy Garoppolo are playoff bound.
There is one thing each of these quarterbacks have in common. The front office and coaching staff have built strong football teams around the quarterback. The Dolphins, based on the 2019 season, are working to put together the best football team possible. So whether they draft a rookie, trade for a vet, or even ride with some Fitzmagic, it is important to let the team establish itself in 2020 before rushing to judgement.
It isn’t how you get your quarterback, it’s building a successful offense around the signal caller — whomever that may be.
Don’t fall in love with a specific player or pick
The Dolphins have actually had some success in the early rounds of the draft lately.
The Dolphins have only missed once in the first round since 2014. Ja’Wuan James, Devante Parker, Laremy Tunsil, and Minkah Fitzpatrick have all had pro bowl caliber years at one point. It’s poor form to say Miami haven’t drafted well, they’ve done just fine. https://t.co/XiZfLyzqbw
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 27, 2019
Miami’s worst pick since 2014 is Charles Harris. The Dolphins took Harris because they were desperate for a pass rusher. Players like Tre’Davious White and T.J. Watt, who fit Miami’s current needs quite well went shortly after. The Dolphins are need to build a roster. Grier and Flores witnessed more than 75 players suit up on game day in the search of depth and part-time starters.
Injuries happen — all the time. It is nearly impossible to fill all of Miami’s holes. Under Adam Gase the Dolphins focused on rostering a “starter” at every position. Not only did some of these players under perform, but season’s spiraled out of control after losing a few starters. With 11 starters on each side of the ball, it is nearly impossible to have a “solid” starter at every position.
Don’t panic if Miami avoids a “need,” because there are plenty. This staff has proven its ability to succeed with undrafted free agents and will likely have to showcase that skill again in 2020.
Instead of forcing a need, players like Nik Needham, Vince Biegel and Sam Eguavoen can showcase their ability to become contributing members of the franchise without siphoning the team’s salary cap and draft capital.
Enjoy the ride
Fans spent most of Sunday’s win over New England upset about Miami’s lowering draft pick. Not only did the Dolphins celebrate the team’s biggest win in recent years, but Miami remained in the fifth spot of the 2020 draft.
The results are out until the games are played. The Dolphins picked an unconventional route in 2019 by not tanking, but moving plenty of players who were cornerstones of the franchise. Brian Flores is looking like the right guy to lead the Miami Dolphins after his first season at head coach. Of course, so did Joe Philbin and Adam Gase.
Despite the “no days off” mentality, a kid named Ferris offered some great advice on his day off.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”
The Dolphins are in the middle of the process and there is plenty of work to do. However, if you don’t enjoy the highlights, even if its a win over the quarterback-less Colts, you’ll miss out on some remarkable games. Potentially some of the biggest upsets of all time.
The Dolphins winning as 17.5-point underdogs was the biggest upset in the final week of the season in NFL history, at least as far back as I can find accurate point spreads. Previous record was the Lions, who were 2-13, beating 14-point favorite Cowboys, who were 9-6, in 2006.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 30, 2019
A new decade is upon us, but hopefully the no-quit Dolphins aren’t changing too much.
Here is to 2020.