First came the Buffalo Bills cleaning the Dolphins’ clock in the season finale, 42-17. Then roughly 24 hours later, the Dolphins cleaned the rest of their house, firing head coach Adam Gase and reassigning vice president Mike Tannenbaum from player-picker to the mailroom. Ryan Tannehill is almost assuredly next to be offered an Uber.
It’s a new era in Miami with new general manager Chris Grier and Dan Marino in charge. That era will officially start next season but will begin for real in 2020, when the Dolphins select Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa first overall in the NFL draft.
Hopefully, that is. From our mouths to Dan Marino’s ears.
For Tua to come to Miami Gardens, the Dolphins will have to suck something fierce in 2019. They’ll have to #TankForTua harder than every other team trying to do the same.
That’s why the quest to be the best at being bad must start now.
Tua, for those unfamiliar, is football’s LeBron James. He threw for 41 touchdowns this season with just four interceptions. The 20-year-old Hawaii-born Samoan sophomore rarely played the fourth quarter. It routinely seemed he was going easy on lesser opponents. He’s the surest thing to come out of college football in quite some time.
If Dolphins fans are smart, they’ll be hoping for as many 2019 losses as possible to win the 2020 Tua sweepstakes. A proper tanking this coming season would be the clearest and most sensible way for Stephen Ross and his newly structured front office to improve the on-field product for the long run.
Lose often. Every week if possible. Because Tua is worth it, and all you’ll be giving up is another playoff-less season anyway. Invest in the future. Put some losses in the bank, Miami Dolphins. In the NFL, sometimes you have to break a few loss eggs to make a Super Bowl-caliber omelet.
It’s not the only way, but for the Dolphins it certainly is the smartest direction forward, all things considered.
While the team’s clearest need is a franchise quarterback, this year’s draft is deficient of any sure thing. Even if there was a coveted quarterback in the class, the Dolphins at 7-9 earned the 13th selection, meaning they would have to trade away a lot to get him.
Now is not the time to reset at quarterback. Next year is. Do not rush things, Miami.
The best option for the future would be to let Tannehill walk and start third-string David Fales next season. If Fales looks great, you have a quarterback. If he doesn’t, you’re bad enough to land Tua, hopefully.
At least three quarterbacks are projected to go in the top five in the 2020 NFL Draft. If the Dolphins lose out on Tua, the consolation prize would be Georgia’s Jake Fromm, who beat Oklahoma in double overtime in last year’s Rose Bowl before falling to Alabama in the final. Hell, even if the Dolphins happen into a handful of wins with Fales at quarterback, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, who’s been mentored by former Hurricane and FIU coach Mario Cristobal, looks like a solid prospect. He’s not a bad contingency plan.
Quarterbacks who are drafted get signed to reasonable contracts. This would save the Dolphins a bag full of cash compared to what they’ve been paying Ryan Tannehill the last few years. That money could then be invested in young players the Dolphins want to keep, such as Xavien Howard and Kenyan Drake.
The Dolphins should spend 2019 preparing for 2020. Sell off assets for draft picks. Clear up cap space and lock down young core players. And lose as many games as the NFL puts in front of you in the name of a proper rebuild.
Tank for Tua, dammit. It’s the soundest 2019 strategy the Miami Dolphins can take.