It’s been a minute, Dolphins fans.

It’s been a minute since I wrote — I was recovering from the sting of writing an article hyping up Tua and the 2020 squad only to watch them get shellacked by the Bills in week 17 — but it’s also been a minute since the Dolphins achieved a 10-6 record to close the regular season.

2016 was the last time the Fins made it to 10-6, but we now know that then-head coach Adam Gase’s playoff appearance was largely a fluke. 

As Admiral Ackbar might say, it was a trap.

Built around aging veterans, a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who needed a change of scenery to truly blossom, and a head coach who ended up being laughably incompetent (not being mean, just speaking truth), we should’ve known that season wasn’t a true building block for the future. 

But the 2020 Miami Dolphins, who just went 10-6?

I’m all in. Why?

Let me put it this way…

Flores is better than Gase. Fact.

This team is young — real young. In 2016, the Dolphins were the 20th youngest team in the league. In 2020 they were the 2nd youngest, behind only the 1-15 Jaguars.

And long term, I still believe Tua will be better than Tannehill ever was for this franchise. I’ve been wrong before, but you can quote me on that. Give him some weapons in the upcoming draft — the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris comes to mind — and I think you’ve got a winner. A long-term winner.

That last point may be speculation, but the fact that seems more concrete is Flores’ worth for Stephen Ross’ franchise. 

In the 2019 season, everyone thought the Miami Dolphins were full-on tanking. And in some respects, they were.

They jettisoned talented players throughout the postseason and went into week one with a skin-and-bones roster that got blown out 59-10 by the Ravens to open the season. The front office had 100% set up the team to tank that year… But there was one problem with the “tanking” idea.

Head coaches don’t tank. And players sure as hell don’t tank.

You’ve heard the story before, but it bears repeating: Flores took an XFL-level roster and guided them to five wins, including a rousing week 17 victory against the Patriots that robbed them of home-field advantage in the playoffs and led to a premature exit.

Tank job aside, the players were playing for their jobs — 2020 contributors Nik Needham and Zach Sieler are testaments to that. As for Flores? He was coaching for credibility, credibility that he’s earned by this point. He took that XFL roster, guided it to five wins, and then parlayed that first season into ten wins the very next year.

Long story short, I’m sold on Flores. His leadership has been a breath of fresh air for this franchise. 

Tua’s time will come (Deshaun Watson trade rumors aside), but Flores’ time is already here. And I’m hoping it’s here to stay.

And as far as the 2020 season goes, I’m as bummed out as you probably are that the Dolphins missed the playoffs. I watched the Titans-Ravens game and was convinced that Miami would have absolutely been competitive in that game. 

But if there’s one thing that 2020 taught us — or me, at the very least — it’s that you shouldn’t take anything for granted.

So I’m not going to gripe too much about missing the playoffs. I’m not going to complain that Tua didn’t play as well as Justin Herbert with the Chargers. And I’m not going to lament that the Dolphins’ offense was stagnant for much of the end of the season.

Because Miami went 10-6.

With a second-year head coach, a rookie QB for half the year, and the second-youngest roster in the league, the Miami Dolphins went 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs. 

In year two of a full-scale rebuild, how could you not be happy with that?

If you’re worried about Tua because of Armando Salguero’s recent article on a select few players not feeling sold on him, don’t be. I’d point you to this article, where Tyreek Hill says that he thought Patrick Mahomes, of all people, was “trash” during Mahomes’ rookie year. 

Hill said to a reporter, “I was like, ‘This is who y’all drafted?’” 

So don’t fret. It’s still very, very early. 

I’m not one to peddle optimism just for clicks or to make people feel good, but I’ve got a good feeling. As a fan since the dreadful 2007 season who’s been around the block for being so young, I’ve got a good feeling. The 10-6 Dolphins are headed into year three of a rebuild with a full head of steam, complete with extra cap space and a plethora of draft picks.

Be patient with Tua. Be happy with Flores. And be excited for the future of this franchise.

As good as it was for the Miami Dolphins, 2020 is over.

Here’s to 2021 and all the success it brings to this once-great franchise in South Florida.