If you’re a casual NFL, you’re probably wondering why there are 31 teams and an organisation of man-children called the Miami Dolphins.
Well, my friends – the hashtag #TankForTua is about to be explained to you. No, this is not like the Premier League. No, this is not an uber-honest, always-competitive league – and just like the NBA – sometimes teams know they’re bad.
And the absolute worst thing you can be in the NFL is average or below it.
Welcome to the Miami Dolphins explainer.
So, it’s worth stating that last year’s Miami Dolphins were no bad team, really.
They finished a respectable 7-9 and even beat the Patriots at home. This year, they drafted Christian Wilkins in the first round, then opted to trade their second-round pick to Arizona for Josh Rosen – a quarterback whose experience in Arizona was rough, but who had all the traits to excel at the top level.
You’re thinking – right, if this works out, they might even sneak a wild card spot. But, at some point during this build, someone pulled the plug. Now, for what reason, we don’t know.
Perhaps they didn’t see their financial ties as advantageous to achieving success in the long-term.
Perhaps they made one mistake and decided to just go down this path by default. Or most likely, they’re just very, very keen on Tua Tagovailoa, a young quarterback from Alabama.
While they’re now practically guaranteed now to land him if they want, as they’re a shoo-in for the first overall pick in 2020 having been outscored 102-10 in the opening two games of the season, it’s no guarantee that this team will build anything around Tua to actually enable him to lead them to success in the first place.
The Dolphins have a history in trading away proven pieces in exchange for picks, with no return on investment. As of right now, they’ve gotten rid of Laremy Tunsil, who is an elite left tackle, and is an absolute necessity if your quarterback wants to maximise his ability.
Now, they’re on course to get rid of their only other All-Pro player in Minkah Fitzpatrick.
There are whispers it may even be for a second-round pick. Yes, they can land serious players out of college on small contracts, but that gives you four years to win a Super Bowl, if you try that approach, because rookies generally sign four-year deals when taken high in the draft.
Their salaries are pre-determined, so they generally get paid less given their inexperience.
With the salary cap in play, you can see why this would be a wise strategy to pack as much talent into your team as possible. It’s the new way of achieving success.
Philadelphia did it. Dallas tried to do it. Arizona are attempting it. The Rams tried it. Now, Miami are trying it.
Except, in the past, they’ve traded away Chris Chambers, Pat Surtain, Vontae Davis, Jay Ajayi, Olivier Vernon and Jarvis Landry. In return, they got Chad Henne, Matt Roth, Jamal Taylor, Jalen Ballage, Leonte Caroo and Durham Smythe.
This organisation has no idea what they’re doing, and chances are, with all those early draft picks, they’re all going to need to be paid in the same year, four years down the line.
How do you manage that cap headache?
Of course, the idea is that they win a Super Bowl in that time period and none of this is relevant, but given their history, I sincerely doubt it.
There are even doubts, not shared by me, but shared in general, that Tagovailoa is a system quarterback. What happens if this doesn’t work out?
You’ve gotten rid of anyone resembling a talented football player in exchange for this quarterback.
And if he doesn’t fast track you into contention, do you cut your losses and start again?
Miami are playing a dangerous game. New England have shown time and time again, that the NFL is full of players who are the tiniest bit more athletic, clever or explosive than the remainder, and the key to this is the coaching.
Best of luck, Miami.