There are some in the media who want you to believe that Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland are quietly lying to you. No, not about being frugal with their spending, about admitting that the team is re-building. You don’t have to look any further than their release of Brandon Marshall and Yeremiah Bell to figure it out. Or so they say. Add in the rumors tied to drafting Ryan Tannehill and suddenly you see a team that is prepping for an overhaul. Is that really the case?
The Dolphins entered this off-season with 17 players on their roster needing tenders or heading to free agency. Of those 17, Steve Slaton, Phillip Merling, Paul Soliai, Lydon Murtha, Ryan Baker, and Jeron Mastrud, all re-signed with the Dolphins in some way shape or forum. Those re-signed reduced the number to 11. Of those 11, Will Allen and Mike Rivera signed with the Patriots while Chad Henne and J.P. Losman both signed elsewhere as well. The biggest loss thus far was DE Kendall Langford who signed with the Rams.
Those players reduce the Dolphins free agent number to six and of those six, Lex Hilliard is the only player employed and Jason Taylor is retired. So far in free agency the Dolphins have added Artis Hicks, Richard Marshall, David Garrard, and Quinton Lawrence. The names hardly instill a degree of excitement into the team but they also do not indicate a rebuilding process.
Jeff Ireland is sticking to his plan of building the team through the draft and for the future without leaving the team strapped for spending cash. While many would believe that Ireland’s job is on the line, he is hardly conducting business in a way that indicates his job is in fact on the line.
Last season the Dolphins reeled off six wins in their final 9 games, doing enough to keep them out of the running for one of the top QB’s in this years draft. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Matt Moore and David Garrard can lead this team to victories. The answer is not a simple yes or no but looking at what the team did last year compared to the roster thus far, they haven’t lost any real talent.
At one point last season the Dolphins were the hottest team in the NFL. Of course it really mattered for nothing. The Phins entered free agency with needs at RT, RG, QB, OLB, and S. While they have added some talent, they have not really addressed their “need” positions with starters. The release of Brandon Marshall leaves a void at WR but the truth is the Dolphins can fill that void in the draft or go with Roberto Wallace, Clyde Gates, or Marlon Moore. Yes, I am well aware that none of those three, combined, equal Brandon Marshall. However, in this new offensive system, they don’t have to be Brandon Marshall.
The system is set up to get players open in the field of play. It’s technical to a degree but the reality is that Brandon Marshall given his off-field issues and poor locker room attitude simply has no place in a system that spreads the ball around to a variety of positions to force defenses into coverage mistakes. In Green Bay, there was never a “me” WR on the field. Each played a part. While some might argue that Greg Jennings is a star, he is a star that does not complain about the ball not coming to him every snap.
Conversely on defense, the aging Yeremiah Bell fell victim to capanomics. Despite the comments to his agent by Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins released their longest tenured veteran but hold out hope that Bell will re-sign with the team. If not, it’s likely that we see Richard Marshall taking over the spot.
I guess my question is this, while the media firestorm continues to ravage the Dolphins front office, where exactly is this rebuilding that we keep hearing about?
If this team was actually rebuilding I would suspect that we would see players like Anthony Fasano cut or traded. Karlos Dansby cut or traded. Cameron Wake traded. The truth is trading away key members of your defense is a sure sign that you are rebuilding. Not removing a cancer from your locker room or an aging veteran who was scheduled to make over 4.5 million dollars this season.
Going into the season with the QB that gave you six victories to finish out the season is not rebuilding. Possibly taking a first round QB in the draft does not mean you are rebuilding. This team is not rebuilding. They are re-structuring at the most. Now, if the Dolphins begin parting ways with a few of those players I just mentioned, then yes, they are rebuilding. They just are not there yet.
So why is it that so many want you to believe that the team is lying to you and are in fact “rebuilding”? Simple, doom and gloom sells. It sells hits, it sells page views, it sells advertising. What it doesn’t sell is an honest assessment of what is going on all the time. As much as I believe they are wrong, I very well could be the one who is wrong. I simply need more real valid proof before I start throwing the team further under the bus they already live under.