Oh, of course, the good old “hot take.” Can the Dolphins compete for a playoff spot in 2020? Who doesn’t love one? Everyone on Twitter seems to be making a bold statement based on personal opinions these days. Whether it be who someone believes is a better receiver, or who has higher expectations for their team than others (spoiler, that’s me) it seems to have become quite the phenomenon. It has turned into such a phenomenon @OldTakesExposed keeps track of all our bold takes which we say with our chest out and our head held high just hoping it bites us in the rear. As for which mine is today, I bet you have a pretty good guess. Although I’m simply asking the question, I believe there is lots of substance behind it. With my head held high, I proclaim there is a real possibility our Miami Dolphins can make a jab at the playoffs this year, let’s see why.
Before I get into our achievements, I wanted to highlight how many teams have turned it around rather quickly. There are plenty to the point that the Dolphins are even included on this list! If there are any Jets, Pats, or Bills fans possibly reading this, go ahead and bookmark it. If this is an absolute flop you can also shoot me a tweet at @FinsStan to rub it in, but I have a funny feeling this season, I think I feel optimism. I am also going solely off of recent history so let’s see what we got.
49ers (2016-2020) – I assume we all remember Kiko and Suh demolishing Kapernick at the Goal Line to finish off an amazing comeback right? The problem with that was, that would have been their first win of the season. Flash forward a few seasons and they just played at Hard Rock for the Lombardi Trophy. It seems that aligning a GM/HC (John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan) together with a long term plan and bringing in their QB of the future helped them embark on a path to the SB. Weird…. I wonder who’s doing that to perfection at this moment? Beats me!
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) May 15, 2020
Chiefs (2013-2020) – From the team that played in the SB, to the team that won, both the Niners and the Chiefs recently turned it around. The only reason I take the Chiefs back to 2013 is to prove a point I will explain at the end of the examples. The KC Chiefs went from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 in 2013. This quick turnaround can be attributed to the talent already on the roster, yes, but it was the addition of Alex Smith, and especially, Andy Reid. By adding the polarizing talent of Mahomes a couple of years later, one of the most deserving coaches who didn’t have a Lombardi yet finally got his.
Dolphins (2007-2008) – While this is one of the more lackluster ones, there are obvious reasons why the success didn’t continue compared to the other teams listed. Even if there wasn’t maintained success going from 1-15 to 11-5 is nothing short of remarkable. Bringing in a new HC in Tony Sparano and a talented, yet injury-prone, QB in Pennington took us over a massive hump. The reason this wasn’t maintained we’re a plethora of reasons that go so far as Jeff Ireland’s mismanagement of the team, to Pennington’s woes, and so on and on. There wasn’t a long term plan set in place, and it showed here.
Jaguars (2016-2017) – Also a lackluster one, you’ll see my point in a second. Being one of the laughing stocks of the NFL, the Jaguars came out with a force during the 2017 campaign. Going from 3-13 to a Touchdown away from a Super Bowl, this was one of the most surprising turnarounds ever. Although they had success then, “Sacksonville” had a guy at the helm of their offense who was never going to get it done. Putting their faith in Blake Bortles and (I apologize) washed Tom Coughlin was an inevitable recipe for disaster. Just like the Dolphins, there was no one path to follow after 2017. It’s impossible to have continued success through the Draft and FA like they did, especially with a mediocre at best QB at the helm.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) May 18, 2020
Now, what does all this mean? I’ve listed the two teams that played at the Rock for the SB this past year and two underwhelming redemption stories. Each of these was listed because of their similarities. Both the underwhelming and the true winners. For starters, The Dolphins and Jaguars were one-year wonders for a plethora of reasons. What it really came down to was the Front Office, Quarterback, and Head Coach similarities for both franchises. Both Coughlin and Ireland’s mismanagement and the inconsistency of Bortles and Pennington (for different reasons albeit) was huge to the lackluster seasons that followed. These inconsistencies paired with Doug Marone, (and may he truly Rest In Peace) Sparano were never going to take them to the top. As much as I loved the celebration to FG’s and have a special place in my heart for the man that took my Dolphins to my first playoff game, there was no long term plan, no long term future, and no long term success to be had. All of this combined is what would drive each team to the ground.
On the other hand, both the Chiefs and Niners came back to their winning ways for the same reasons. The Niners hired Kyle Shanahan and brought in Jimmy G, and the Chiefs hired Andy Reid and brought in Alex Smith. The combination of a smart HC and a QB more often than not transcend most franchise’s woes. The Niners took it even a step further and brought in a GM in John Lynch who was in sync with Shanahan on what they wanted to do. This blueprint has been executed on par, if not even better by the Miami Dolphins organization. In one year they took themselves out of cap hell and mediocrity to a team that has a bright future loaded with young talent. The Dolphins accomplished this by getting a GM/HC tandem that knew exactly what they wanted to do. They literally fleeced teams in trades, brought in a culture that has been missing for god knows how long, and executed one of them, if not the best smokescreen in NFL history. Acquiring Tua Tagovailoa while hiring Brian Flores and promoting Chris Grier should have Dolphins fans truly elated. They started this season losing by two blowouts, being torn apart by the national media, and being subjected to literal ridicule (still keeping tabs and waiting for the apology.) By the end of the season/off-season, we finished 5-11, established a culture, brought in a huge FA haul, but, most importantly, we got our Quarterback. The blueprint from former teams suggests an immediate improvement, and the weakening of the AFC means it’s ripe for the taking. I’m not saying we should expect a SuperBowl in the next 3 years, I’m not even saying that there won’t be ups and downs, but if recent history suggests what’s to come I would finally use something called optimism. To all my Dolphins fans, especially the young ones like me, let’s get excited and hold on for a ride, it might be a good one.