Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Dolphins Watch: Suck For Luck
To understand the Miami Dolphins’ plight, you must first understand the infrastructure of the team. This truly is a sad sack team going nowhere fast. Let’s start at the start here: Bill Parcells left the team after a rift with General Manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano. It was one of those, “Okay fine, you think you can do better? Knock yourselves out!” type situations. I’ll have more to say about Big Tuna in my next post, if I live to see such a thing.
In any event, that left a power struggle within the team. Former Kansas City Chief executive Carl Peterson is owner Stephen Ross’ right hand man. He’s the de facto team president now that Parcells is gone. He’s running that team in everything but name. Now, Ireland worked under Peterson with the Chiefs as a scout. With Peterson having Ross’ ear like he does, Ireland has been able to convince Ross that he has assembled a playoff worthy team. They keep saying in interviews “The talent is there, the talent is there.” All this adds up to bad news for Sparano.
Because if they believe the talent is there, that must mean Sparano is just doing a bad job of coaching it. And sure, there’s some truth to that. For example, Reggie Bush has never in his lifetime been an every down, between-the-tackles rusher. For some drug induced reason, Sparano seems to think he can turn him into one. Also, Sparano’s forte is supposed to be offensive lines. He was an offensive line coach for the Cowboys before taking the Dolphins’ head coaching job. He prides himself on being able to cobble together good offensive lines.
However, in his four years with the Phins, the only real bright spot on the line has been left tackle Jake Long. Marc Colombo is a turnstile at right tackle. Richie Incognito has been disappointingly Richie Incognito. And rookie center Mike Pouncey has struggling with his snapping accuracy. All of this needs to fall on the shoulders of supposed offensive line guru Sparano.
Also, it is a running joke among Miami media types how excited Sparano gets for every field goal that is made. He seems all too willing to take the three points instead of trying to hammer out more touchdowns. Perhaps he has Dan Carpenter in his fantasy league or something. If he loses his coaching job, he can become a special teams cheerleader.
So what this means is that Sparano is going to be the fall guy for this lousy season. Peterson is whispering in Ross’ ear that Ireland is doing a good job. Ross has said he admires Ireland because of the businesslike approach he takes to putting together a team. Ireland assigns a value to each player, and is unwilling to pay more than his assigned value. As a businessman first and foremost, Ross appreciates that fiscally conservative approach that Ireland prides himself on.
Even when it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. See, with Chad Henne out for the year, the Dolphins needed a new quarterback. David Garrard was asking for a million dollars guaranteed. Because that was more than the value Ireland assigned to Garrard in his pea sized mind, the Dolphins refused to give it to him. What ended up happening instead was, they signed Sage Rosenfels off the scrap heap for about $900,000. So instead of having the best available quarterback on the market to try to salvage their season, they now go to battle with the fearsome combination of Rosenfels and Matt Moore at the league’s most important position. (Lest I forget Quarterback Develin sitting there on the practice squad. And no, I have no idea what that person’s first name is.) And for all the bluster of fiscal conservation and business sense, they didn’t really save any money in the deal, either.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Suck for Luck. That is Dolphins’ fans mantra this year. Many Dolphins fans have gone from angry about the way the season has been going, to outright hopeful that they tank the season and get prized prospect Andrew Luck, who has been compared by many experts to a young John Elway. Getting Andrew Luck would immediately add hope to a franchise that hasn’t had stability at the quarterback position since Dan Marino retired, and currently sports perhaps the most bland, boring brand of football in the NFL. They need a spark. They need Andrew Luck.
It’s going to be a dog fight for that first overall pick, of course. The Indianapolis Colts remind me of the San Antonio Spurs. The one year David Robinson was hurt, they tanked the season and ended up with Tim Duncan. A similar situation could unfold in Indy, where next year they will get Peyton Manning back, and they could groom Luck behind him for a couple years before he takes over full time.
There is also the Seattle Seahawks, who might be the only team in the league with less hope and a less inspiring roster than the Dolphins. When Charlie Whitehurst represents hope for you, you know you are screwed. There are other teams in contention as well, such as the winless Rams and the Vikings, but they already have young quarterbacks on their roster, which in theory would make them less likely to want or take Luck in the draft. The other big Luck contender is the Chiefs, but thankfully they’ve been dumb enough to win twice already this season, creating a comfortable little cushion between them and the Dolphins in the Luck sweepstakes.
What it boils down to is, every game the rest of the way for the Dolphins is a must lose situation. There are some really rotten teams in the NFL this year, and it might turn out that two or three wins might be too many this year. They need to go 0-16 to ensure themselves Luck. Maybe it’s for the best that they didn’t end up with Garrard. Garrard is talented enough to help the team win four or five games, effectively taking them out of the bidding. Dolphin fans have reached the point where the team has been mediocre for too long. If they are not going to be good, like AFC Championship game good, then they should probably just be really bad, and completely start over.
That means that Sparano won’t make it to coach Andrew Luck. Unfortunately, Ireland will probably be around to draft him. The Dolphins haven’t really been relevant in the last ten years. During that time, perennial also rans the Lions and Bills have gotten good, really good, to the point where they might be the two best teams in football now. For the Dolphins to have a chance at joining them someday soon, the fans need to Rage For Sage, hoping that helps them Suck For Luck! I’m all out of clichés now.
By the way, I'm going to label each of my posts "Dolphins Watch" so you can know to skip them immediately. I want to thank Neil for letting me on board here. This really is one of the finest websites on the web.