Flores, Tua, and the 2020 Miami Dolphins: A Return to Relevance
Welcome back, Miami Dolphins fans (and any non-fans, too — I’m glad you’re here too even if I’m not sure why).
If you’re here for the usual recap of last week’s action and a look ahead to the game coming up, you’ve come to the wrong place, just this once.
This time, I’ve got something even more exciting for you. (yes! It’s possible, believe it or not!)
This time I want to talk about something that’s shocking, amazing, and a little bit terrifying all at once.
While we’re at it, let’s amend that statement — the Dolphins are turning into one hell of a franchise.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) November 19, 2020
They’ve got their coach, they’ve got their quarterback, and they’ve been a first-class organization off of the field for years now. Owner Steve Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel have seen to that, generously giving to charity and community outreach while backing initiatives to fight racial discrimination.
The difference compared to years past is that the on-field product has finally caught up to the business side. And let’s be honest, the team itself is what generates attention.
For years now — decades, really — the Dolphins have been a doormat for the AFC East and the rest of the NFL. Being born in 1999, I’ve felt nothing but forlorn hope as Dolphins fans tragically pinned all their hopes on flash-in-the-pan, fluky seasons like 2008 and 2016’s surprise playoff appearances. For fans young and old recently, there’s been little to be excited about. But guess what?
None of that matters now.
It’s understandable that Dolphins fans may feel guarded about their team’s prospects even in the midst of a five-game winning streak. People are afraid that too much praise will somehow jinx this team and send the franchise back to 2007’s hellish 1-15 debacle. People are afraid that these are the same old Dolphins, building up your hopes just to crush them at season’s end.
This 2020 squad, led by Brian Flores and Tua Tagovailoa, represents the new Miami Dolphins.
After a victory against the Chargers in week 10 to make it five straight, Miami is bringing in plenty of attention. In case you hadn’t noticed this week, one NFL power ranking placed the Dolphins in the top five of the league.
The @MiamiDolphins have entered the chat.
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) November 17, 2020
As in, some informed folks think the Dolphins are one of the best teams in the entire National Football League.
Let that sink in… That’s something Dolphins fans haven’t seen in a long, long time. Not since the days of Dan Marino, most likely.
I saw that ranking and didn’t know what to think, like being at a party and not knowing what to do with your hands. It feels so odd to see the Dolphins garnering this kind of respect.
So I’m telling you, be confident. Be excited. Be optimistic. Demand excellence once more.
It’s often said that the team takes on the personality of its head coach, and this is exactly what’s happening with this 2020 squad. They’re a reflection of Brian Flores.
So I could tell you like usual about how the Broncos, Miami’s opponent this Sunday, look statistically. I could tell you that Miami’s secondary should feast against a passing attack that is last in the league in both completion percentage and interception rate. I could tell you about how Tua and the offense should be able to put up points on a scoring defense that ranks near the bottom of the league.
But I’ll stop there because the fact is this: The Dolphins should win this game. And for all my money, they do win this game.
They’re a capable team — a good, complete team — that should take care of business and leave Denver as if nothing ever happened, simply moving onto the next task at hand and nothing else. That’s the Brian Flores way.
He’s coaching up his young quarterback, rookie Tua Tagovailoa, with that exact method in mind. Tua is set to be the face of the franchise for years to come and if his first three starts are any indication, the pairing of his offense with Brian Flores’ defense should frighten the rest of the NFL.
Speaking of the defense, someone should go check on Justin Herbert after last week’s game.
The Dolphins don’t rank at the top of the league in every category, but as Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald pointed out recently on Twitter, what the Dolphins do well they do really, really well. Check out the thread below:
Xavien Howard's time atop the NFL in interceptions (5) lasted some three hours. JC Jackson is back ahead, picking off his sixth pass last night. Howard also ranks eighth in passes defensed (10).
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 16, 2020
Much of this comes from coaching, and after only a season and a half, Brian Flores has proved that he 100% belongs in this league. He’s a frontrunner for Coach of the Year as it stands, and rightfully so.
As for Tua, in only three starts he’s racked up as many wins as fellow rookies Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have combined. He’s gotten plenty of help from Miami’s stellar defense and special teams, but he’s doing more than just his job — he’s guiding the Dolphins to victories, and as a rookie, he’s already a leader on this team.
So I’ll say it once more, Dolphins fans: Be excited, be confident. Miami has its coach and its quarterback in Flores and Tua.
After a long road, the Miami Dolphins have finally returned to relevance.