Will the Dolphins full-on tank mode result in a Browns-esque rebirth? The MMQB crew tackles the rebuild in Miami.

By The MMQB Staff
September 04, 2019

Albert Breer: The Dolphins seem to be in full-on tank mode, saddling Ryan Fitzpatrick with a line that does not have an anchor and a receiving corps with no true No. 1. Will this bottoming-out result in a Browns-esque rebirth? I do think that the analogy is correct there. This feels a lot like what the Browns did with Sashi Brown in 2016 in 2017 ...

Conor Orr: Which if you are, Brian Flores, please be careful! Make sure you get this team on the other side too! Don't just be the guy that runs them into the ground!

Breer: But I think this is a real challenge for Flores because he's doing a lot of the things that Matt Patricia did in Detroit. It makes sense because they both from the same place (New England). They're asking a lot of the players down there, and [you can't forget that] these players are human, and they're watching all of this stuff happening. So, when the coach is asking a lot of you and the organization is trading away players building assets for the future, I mean A. If you're a player it's really hard to not take that as they don't care about this year and B. It's also fair for every player on that roster to ask how much longer am I even going to be here. So I think that that's a real challenge for Brian Flores ... I think he can do it, I just think it's a really tough thing because if you're a demanding coach like he is like like all the guys in the Belichick tree are and you're not providing immediate results it just it's hard to ask that much of guys.

Jenny Vrentas: Once you start the process of the roster rebuild there is no turning back. Because the guys on the team eventually get so demoralized with the direction of the team that it becomes almost impossible to keep them there. We sort of saw this with the Raiders. You know once the Mack trade happened and then the Cooper trade, and then Bruce Irvin meets with Gruden midseason and they mutually decide that he's going to leave. It's hard to stay there when you when you just realize that this season is is nothing. The Raiders had a huge roster turnover after Gruden came in but then they had another one they turned over from last year again. And so I think that's where the challenge is: Do you keep any staples of your locker room and how do they sort of make it through? And it has to be a guy with like a temperament like Joe Thomas almost. He's seen a ton in his career and [he thinks] I'm really good at my job, and I'm going to continue to be really good at my job.

Breer: Wouldn't it be hard not to ask the question if you're a player why should this matter to me if it doesn't matter. Why should this season matter to me if it doesn't matter to you?

Vrentas: Yes it's hard not to look at what they're doing and think this is great asset wise. They're getting tremendous returns. They are setting up for to reshape this team in whatever image they want. But the practicality of it—how it actually plays in the locker room and putting a team together—doesn't look quite as good as it does on paper right.

Orr: You forget sometimes the callousness of it a little bit, that there's 53 guys that you're asking to just get totally beat up for a year so that you can be good next year when none of them are around. It's just like it really does kind of stink.

Breer: I do think it's hard on the head coach. It's hard for the head coach to get up there and say tune out everything that you're watching. Like tune out the fact that the best player on the team is now in Houston. I need you to tune out all of that. Like that's hard.

Orr: This is what I don't understand. There are coaches that take over teams that are like middling roster-wise and transform them into something great without doing a roster overhaul. You say that Sean McVay did that. Yeah. Right. That team was average at best roster-wise. They signed a few high profile free agents. They went to the Super Bowl you know. But if you're a team like the Dolphins who has been middling for so long it's easy for us to sit here and champion this tanking but like what is that what is the answer? If you were a general manager and you were taking over the Dolphins do you go the path of trying to find your Sean McVay and legitimize this in year one or do you have you know do you put your team through this?

Breer: I think that really there is an example of someone doing the middle of that though. Look to me that's what Buffalo did. In Buffalo Sean McDermott's first year kept everybody on board and competed that first year made the playoffs then rip the Band-Aid off. And the reason they did it was because they felt like we have to sort of establish something here first. I think that that's a fair question to ask. Is that a better way to do it? It's like you know you've got problems but kind of like let's ride them out for a year let's make sure we get everybody on board. And then when everybody understands what the expectations are then we rip the Band-Aid off and rebuild.

Vrentas: It's just so tricky because you are gambling that you will be able to put the draft picks to use with players that are of equivalent caliber and I know the more draft picks you have the more chances you have but you have a left tackle that is a win with a draft deck. And so you're basically trusting that you'll be able to get another win when the hit rate is something like 50%.

Breer: I don't want to sound like we're killing the Texans for trading so much for Tunsil and then killing the Dolphins. It sounds like we're killing both but there's definitely a risk.

Vrentas: We're not killing, I'm just saying there's risk.

Yeah, I think one point that it is funny to make though that you know this whole time really the last two years you know I was I was just like why are the Texans being aggressive. This is a crazy window that they have right now. Now I'm just like why are you being so aggressive? What is going on? That's too much! Dial it down.

Breer: So how about this Conor though since you're an aficionado of all of everything Ryan Fitzpatrick can he still pull off that magic month, that month where it all just comes together for him?

Orr: Yeah!

Breer: You're betting on him still? No Tunsil, no Stills? You're still all-in on Fitzmagic just happening randomly for like three or four weeks.

Orr: It's as dependable as a lunar cycle, I would say, like you could set your watch to it.

Breer: That's a problem too though, right?

Orr: You win four games and all of a sudden, Fitzpatrick just, you know, disappears.

Breer: It's a problem in that maybe the team has the fifth pick in the draft now instead of the first or second.

Orr: Here's what I will say on that thread is ... Poor Josh Rosen. You went from just a dumpster fire roster-wise in Arizona to a chance to be like, OK well maybe this is gonna be a fresh start and then you don't win the quarterback battle and then it's some point he is going to play this season and when he takes over the roster he's going to be more dejected, more turned over, more beat up than they were for the first game. Yeah he's going to be bad.

Vrentas: Yeah it's hard not to feel really bad for him the way that his career has gone and you just sort of hope that someone else trades for him again and he ends up in a better situation where maybe he can develop behind a really good starter on a good team.

Breer: I think it's a good example too of how important it is to get that position right, guys at that position are also so dependent on everything around them and so much is dictated by their circumstances. You know like Tom Brady goes in the sixth round. Well he just happens to land with the greatest coach of all time. You know and that works out. So much of these guys' careers are dictated by their situations and Rosen's a really good example of it.

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