The Miami Dolphins spent the first 7 weeks of this 2019 season trying to figure out how to win games with the hodgepodge of players they brought together. While a small number of players had carried over from the 2018 Miami Dolphins team, many of the players were new to the team, with some players not even knowing the name of many other players in the locker room.

As the first half of this season progressed, although the team showed signs of improvement week over week, they ended their seventh game without a win. However, since that time, the Dolphins have maintained a winning record of 3-2. What’s been the difference? Coaching!

The starters on the Miami Dolphin’s offense and defense have changed so frequently from one week to the next that the TV announcers sometimes have a hard time remembering who the players are on the field. And, “recently signed” or “recently promoted from the practice squad” seems to be a common phrase during televised games.

At 3-9, it’s hard to anoint the Dolphins coaching staff a huge success with the franchise. However, it is safe to say that the coaches and front office have shown promise for the future, and they have made it clear that it does not take a single player to win football games, but an entire team.

A few bright spots so far from this coaching staff have been:

  • The number of rookies that are seeing significant playing time this season stands at 11. In addition, the number of undrafted free agents, waiver wire pickups, and players who were maintaining practice squad roles for other teams is significantly higher than any other team in the NFL. Many of the new additions have become significant contributors to the success of the team.
  • Even with so many new and young players, the Miami Dolphins maintain the 4th lowest number of team penalties. The strong coaching is evident for this category as you would expect penalties to be significantly higher for players who haven’t been on the team long.
  • The Dolphins coaching staff is showing that they can develop players. In the past, you would find Miami Dolphins players having success with other teams once they were either released or traded. However, now you are seeing guys that had a tough go with prior Dolphins coaching staffs and are now thriving under the current regime (DeVante Parker, Jerome Baker, Bobby McCain).
  • The coaches are finding players that fit under their scheme. And, regardless of if those players are starters or backups, the coaches are getting them up to speed quickly to be able to contribute during games. Regardless of if the player was undrafted or they were recently cut, the coaching staff is finding some guys that will be able to stick around next season once the draft and free agency have ended (Needham, Wilson, Eguavoen, Taco, etc).
  • The players are enjoying themselves on this team. Once the player who did not want to play on this team was traded away, the coaches did a great job of bringing the team together and provided constant coaching and encouragement. Even during the 7-game losing streak, you could tell that the players were fighting hard to win together as a team. And, now that they are winning more frequently, you can tell that they are enjoying the opportunity to play on this team, to play for this coaching staff, and are going out each week to win each game.

Yes, it took some time for the Miami Dolphins to earn each other’s trust and learn their ultimate roles, but it is becoming abundantly clear that this team is succeeding based on the direction from the coaching staff. And, the culture that is being instilled is evident by the player improvements throughout the season, and the overall swagger by the team.

Coaching players and putting them in the best situation to succeed makes a huge difference in today’s NFL. You don’t have to look too far to see that Ryan Tannehill is reviving his career in Tennessee without having to throw the ball 50 times a game. He has a full team around him that is making it easier for him to succeed. And, his coaches are not asking him to do too much more than what is needed.  Adam Gase is, not surprisingly, struggling with his new team, while Tannehill is flourishing with his.

It bears repeating; success in the NFL is dependent on coaches finding the right players who will fit the system they are instilling and who can do their jobs and execute plays appropriately.

Can we crown Coach Flores to be the next Don Shula for the Miami Dolphins? Absolutely not. But, what you can do is give him and his coaching staff tons of credit for getting the most out of the players on their ever changing roster, and for beginning to create an overall team culture with a “next man up” and “do your job” mentality. Sound familiar? That’s how championship team cultures are constructed.

For those fans and sportswriters who say “well, if the coaches are so great, then why don’t they have a winning record”, I would again go back to the fact that many of the players on this team didn’t get the opportunity to play in preseason games or study the playbook before the beginning of the season. And many of them may never have been given the chance to play in the NFL. They are making the best of their situation, and the coaches are doing a great job with setting them up for success. To say that the coaching staff has not made this Miami Dolphins team better would be absurd. And, it’s going to be fun to watch over the next few seasons!

Coaching Matters!

Fins Up!