Nearly two months ago, the Miami Dolphins marched into Gillette Stadium and escaped Foxborough with a one point win.
Since then, they haven’t won a game. The Dolphins have been outscored by 96 points, and are sitting at the bottom of the AFC.
This comes off a 2020 season where Miami over exceeded by winning 10 games. The Dolphins had the 4th ranked scoring defense, and were viewed as a team on the rise.
However, a series of missteps have culminated in a 1-7 record and a head-coach-GM tandem that’s now regarded as a failure. These major mistakes have changed the narrative of the franchise.
Current general manager Chris Grier has had several positions in his 21 year tenure with the Miami Dolphins. Grier became the GM in 2016, and has held significant power ever since.
In that five-year span, Grier has failed to put it together in the trenches. Miami’s offensive line has consistently been below average. Draft picks and free agent pickups at those positions are struggling to find their way in the NFL.
Since entering the GM position, Grier as drafted nine offensive linemen. Only one of them, Laremy Tunsil, has made a Pro Bowl. Three of them have struggled to find playing time (Isaac Asiata, Isaiah Prince, Larnel Coleman). The rest have been playing on the field but producing a unit regarded as among the worst in the league.
This problem would not have been an issue if Grier had brought in any of the several veteran linemen that were made available over the last few offseason.
Linemen such as Orlando Brown, Corey Linsley, Trent Williams, and Joe Thuney have all changed teams over the last few years. There were no reports about Miami in play and Miami has refused to make an effort to sign anyone of their caliber.
Rather, Miami has went the route of saving money. Taking on chosen “cheaper talent” such as Matt Skura, Jesse Davis, and Ereck Flowers. Though, to his credit, Flowers has been serviceable for Washington since leaving Miami.
The philosophy coming in was to work in all of the drafted OL’s together. However, Miami has no veterans to truly help develop them. This has resulted in a unit full of penalties, blown assignments, free rushers, and an injury to their young QB.
2020 Draft Picks
Among Miami’s young and struggling linemen, three of them were drafted in a year that was supposed to supply a treasure trove of future talent. After moving on from the aforementioned Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami held five picks in the first two rounds.
With those five picks, Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt and Raekwon Davis.
The first of which, whether you believe in him or not, has struggled. Tua was benched twice for his struggles last season. He was destined to take a step forward this season. It’s safe to say it hasn’t happened yet.
Fighting injuries and inconsistency, Tua is 1-3 as the starter. He’s had some good throws right into WR’s hands, while also having questionable throws leading to interceptions.
Austin Jackson and Noah Igbinoghene, on the other hand, have been far worse. In Jacksons first 21 games, he was seen unfit to play tackle, and has currently moved to guard.
He has had some hiccups at guard but is slowly improving. It is notable that it took the coaching staff this many games to try him at guard.
Noah Igbinoghene has not been given the same chance as Austin Jackson has. Igbinoghene has appeared in only two games this season, mainly seeing time when other defensive backs are out.
Igbinoghene’s name has been called in mostly disappointing results, consistently being picked on by opposing QB’s.
The 2nd round picks (Hunt and Davis), unlike the first three, have shown their potential. They have also shown inconsistency, with neither making the jump fans and analysts hoped to see.
This 2020 draft class was one Miami hoped to hang their hat on; thus far, it has the makings of a potential disaster.
While Chris Grier can largely be to blame for the first two issues, Flores may be at fault for the most recent.
Since entering the league in 2019, Flores has had four offensive coordinators. The turnstiles of OC’s have led to the Dolphins offense not being able to produce efficiently. The Dolphins have not had a top scoring offense; they have been in the bottom five the last few years.
Former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea was fired in 2019 for what was rumored to be a “difficult system” to comprehend. Many questioned O’Shea being let go, with his replacement being just as head-scratching.
In the 2020 offseason, Miami brought Chan Gailey out of retirement to help groom their rookie QB.
Contrary to their plan, Gailey didn’t click with Tua, and the playbook looked significantly different when Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had success with Gailey in New York, was at the helm.
Miami struggled heavily to truly compete with the high powered offenses with Gailey’s seemingly antiquated system.
So when the Dolphins missed the playoffs, in 2020, it was time to find another OC.
Intriguing candidates such as Mike McDaniel, Pep Hamilton, and Matt Canada all received interviews. Miami shocked everyone by going with two internal hires, George Godsey and Eric Studesville.
Many were hesitant to believe the two former assistants could call a top-tier offensive scheme. So far, the hesitation has become reality. Miami is bottom five in scoring, and most recently put up 11 points on the division rival Buffalo Bills.
Once looked upon as a future star HC, Brian Flores has failed to solve his offensive coaching woes. The future does not look promising.
The Watson Saga
The newest domino to fall in the slew of missteps has been the handling of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson’s trade request.
Following a formal request in January, Miami had shown interest, and for good reason. Watson threw 33 touchdowns in 2020 and was regarded as a top 5 quarterback.
But, beginning in March, Watson began to face civil and criminal accusations from more than 20 women of sexual misconduct, which is when Miami had a choice to make:
Commit to your 2nd year QB or continue your pursuit of a troubled, potentially criminal player, disrupting Tua’s confidence and in turn, your whole franchise.
Miami chose the second option. Allowing the Dolphins to be the subject of trade rumors into the season, persisting in their attempts to grab another young QB when they already had one who they drafted 16 months ago still on the roster.
Thus, Brian Flores, Tua Tagovailoa, Chris Grier, and more Dolphins players and staff have been berated with questions about a player who shouldn’t be of any concern.
Now, rumors have continued to fly, with the newest comming from lawyer Tony Buzbee. Buzbee claims owner Stephen Ross and the Dolphins may have made an attempt to pay off the women involved in exchange for a settlement and/or NDA. Chris Grier has adamantly denied these rumors.
With Miami declining to make the deal before the deadline, it’s still Tua time in Miami. However, the Watson talk will pick right back up in the offseason, where Miami will have to make the same decision they did this year.
The Bottom Line
Since becoming the main sources of power in the Miami Dolphins organization, Chris Grier and Brian Flores have made some crucial mistakes.
Whether it’s drafting raw players, failing to address the offensive line and coordinator, or letting the Deshaun Watson rumors hang over their head, Miami’s small decisions have spiraled out of control.
It’s gotten to a point where this regime is running out of time, and it may be better off starting over under new leadership.
Miami’s decisions over the next few months will be telling, and it will be intriguing to see if Grier and Flores remain at the helm.
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