Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dolphins Watch: In lieu of actual vision, steal someone else's

It's been a while, but I'm back with style...

When I last wrote for this here site, the Dolphins were well on their way to sucking for Andrew Luck. Boy how things change. By the end of the season, they revealed themselves for what they were: a mediocre team with some good pieces who isn't going to go anywhere as long as Chad Henne and Matt Moore are stationed at quarterback.

So how do they turn things around? Well, Matt Barkley did them no favors by staying in school. By the time it comes the Dolphins turn to pick in the upcoming draft, Luck will be long gone. Robert Griffin III will likely be gone as well, since with Barkley gone, he's the clear number two guy and is worth taking a shot at if you are, say, the Redskins or whatever. Once again, it seems like the Dolphins will be left out in the cold in the never ending hunt for Dan Marino's replacement.

What they really need to do is get bold. They should go out and get Peyton Manning. See, everyone likes to say, “Oh, how great will it be for the Colts, they can draft Andrew Luck and have him learn under Peyton!” The problem with that is, Luck is the most starting-ready quarterback to come along since Peyton. So they'd really just be wasting their time operating under that scenario. They should focus on trying to get what they can for Peyton and moving on from there.

Now, if I'm the Dolphins, I'd be willing to give up a king's ransom to get Manning. And yes, I understand saying “king's ransom” makes me the most elderly person in the history of ever. This is a team that cannot develop their own quarterbacks. They don't have the vision to go out there and draft one, and they historically don't have the coaching to build one from the ground up. The Dolphins never show any true vision, so why not steal someone else's vision?

They just got made to look like fools (for the second year in a row) by helicoptering Jeff Fisher in and then not getting a deal done with him. My problem with that from the beginning is that Fisher was a bad choice. He only had six winning seasons in 17 years for the Titans. What gave him the right to want personnel control in the first place? He's just another in a long line of Big Name Guys that the Dolphins wanted to bring in, which would have led to the same inevitable mediocre result. But I'm trying to get over Bill Parcells, so I won't mention him by name here. Oops.

I am advocating hiring Jim Caldwell to be the new head coach, and trading for Peyton Manning to be the new starting quarterback. Why not? How is it any worse than any of the past ten years, barring perhaps the lonely singular playoff year they had with Chad Pennington at the helm before his arm fell off? I'm one who thinks that coaching is a very overrated cathedral. Bill Belichick was a terrible coach in Cleveland. He didn't suddenly get better when he went to New England. He suddenly got Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady. What we've seen lately with the Patriots is a team that has won one playoff game since 2007 because Genius Belichick has failed time and again in building up a proper defense. This weekend you're going to see wide receiver Julian Edelman and a man in a wheelchair line up at cornerback for them.

So if coaching doesn't matter all that much, why not Caldwell? He looked like a pretty darn good coach up until his quarterback went down. Plus, he's black and the NFL likes it when you hire minorities. But more importantly, if you're going to acquire Peyton, he's the head coach anyway. Just as Michael Jordan was the head coach of the Bulls all those years they were winning championships. You think Phil Jackson was really giving him orders, other than like, “Yeah! Dunk that basketball!” I think not. The benefit here is, you're grabbing someone Peyton is already comfortable with, to help ease the transition of him going to a new team.

Because Peyton Manning, at 36 years old, isn't going to want to go to just any scenario in the NFL, just so he can keep starting football games. He's not Brett Favre. But he likes it in Miami. Dan LeBatard said he once spotted Peyton riding a ten speed around downtown Miami. It's a hella good place to retire, too. And you gotta believe someone like Peyton, if he does indeed land somewhere else for next season, that's it for him. This is his final team. So why not acquiesce to him and make the transition as smooth as possible. Don't force any old coach on him. Get him one he's used to working with. Like I said, he's calling the shots anyway.

Oh, and that king's ransom I mentioned? How about this as a starting point: Your first round pick, $20 million to cover that gigantic signing bonus you promised him, and the Colts' choice of Jake Long, Vontae Davis or Cam Wake, the three biggest difference makers the team has right now. Any of them are worth losing in order to go out and finally get that quarterback. And even if it is only a couple year rental, it's worth every penny. Getting Peyton Manning would finally represent some measure of hope for a stagnant franchise. Keep in mind, I'm not in favor of making changes for change's sake. I don't believe bringing in, say, Matt Flynn of the Green Bay Packers just to say you brought in a new QB would be an effective decision. Flynn is very much like Elvis Grbac in my mind. He played on a team where all the pieces worked together like a well oiled machine, and if you plug him in there, of course he's going to look impressive. Put him on a lesser team and he's not going to be as good.

But if you put Peyton Manning on a mediocre-to-decent team like the Dolphins, all of a sudden there is hope. All of a sudden they are a playoff contender. There are enough pieces on this team right now where adding Peyton would make them legit. Reggie Bush had his best year as a pro, and Daniel Thomas looks like a solid runner as well. Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess are at least as good as Reggie Wayne and the shopping carts with mannequin arms Manning had to work with in Indianapolis. If the Phins could draft a tight end in the second or third round, that offense would really be cooking.

Dolphins fans have been saying all year they are a quarterback away from being a playoff contender. Well, that's easier said than done. There aren't that many elite quarterbacks out there right now. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, guys like that. And as I said, with the two best available guys in the draft almost certain to be gone by the time they pick, that isn't really an option either. But Peyton is absolutely one of those guys, and when the opportunity presents itself to get one of those guys, you have to go all out and do everything you can to make it happen.

The alternative is starting the season with Matt Moore behind center, and the eighth pick of the first round lining up at right tackle. Same as it ever was, as the Talking Heads might say.

By the way, I hope the Jets fans enjoy Tony Sparano. He is a good person, with a tremendous accent and an affinity for the word “hey,” but if you think he represents any sort of improvement over Brian Schottenheimer, well you are taking a long walk off Shorty Delusion Cliff. Or something. I have no idea what I am saying at this point.

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