As if you didn’t need another reason to avoid reading ESPN articles, here’s one more. According to a recent article written by James Walker, ESPN blogger for the AFC East, a panel of “experts” was able to project out how well all NFL teams will do three years from now. That’s right, I said three years from now….According to this article, the Miami Dolphins are not only projected to be last in the division, but 28th overall in the league in 2015?
It’s difficult enough to try to assess how well a team is going to do this upcoming season alone, not to mention three years from now. With all of the new acquisitions in free agency and potential superstars in this year’s draft, experts can’t even agree with this year’s projected power rankings. So I immediately realized this article was a joke. But curiosity was killing the cat, so I just had to continue reading to find out why our beloved Dolphins are projected to be ranked so low in three years.
For a quick synopsis of Walker’s article, the so called experts feel there are way too many question marks with the Dolphins. For one, they seem skeptical of QB Ryan Tannehill’s potential and ability to be a long term answer for the franchise. Well, can’t you say that about any rookie quarterback? What we do know is that Tannehill is very athletic, has excellent feet, throws extremely well on the run, has a strong arm, and has a high ceiling. Yet, we have all seen Mark Sanchez play for three full seasons and even the Jet fans can see he is a lemon.
Another so called question mark surrounding the future of the Dolphins is new head coach Joe Philbin. They are concerned he could be another coordinator to fail as a head coach. Is he the next Cam Cameron or Tony Sparano? That’s a weak argument considering the majority of NFL coaches started off as a coordinator somewhere in this league. Please see Sean Payton, Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy, Mike Tomlin, etc, etc, etc…
What we do know is that Philbin is well respected and loved by his players, and was the offensive coordinator for Championships teams as Allegheny College in 1990 and the Green Bay Packers in 2011. Personally, I am a huge fan of Philbin and his offensive mind is exactly what the Dolphins needed. I think I speak for all of us by saying we are happy to have him here.
Finally, the future of left tackle Jake Long was also mentioned as a factor for the Dolphins being ranked so poorly in 2015. Really? Don’t get me wrong, it is important for every team to have solid tackles to protect their expensive investments behind center. And we all know how great Long is and how valuable he is to this team. But can the status of one left tackle really alter one’s decision to rank a team 28th if that player is no longer there?
Long will most likely sign a fat long-term contract with the Dolphins next year making him the highest paid tackle in the NFL . At least, that’s what GM Jeff Ireland is hinting towards. But if for any reason Miami decides to not resign him, wouldn’t you think Ireland would at least have some kind of back-up plan?
Maybe they draft another LT in the first round of the 2013 or 2014 draft? Maybe they trade Long next year and pick up a veteran LT in free agency? Maybe this year’s second round draft pick, Jonathan Martin, will be our future LT? At any rate, you can bet the Dolphins would not let go of Long without a solid back-up plan. Thus, to grade a team’s future projections on the status of a left tackle without considering other potential options doesn’t seem like a sound argument to me.
Like any typical ESPN article, these experts claim the Patriots will be in first place, followed by the Jets, Bills, and then our Dolphins. And as we all know, three years in the NFL is a lifetime. Heck, it’s a career for most running backs. By 2015, Tom Brady will be 38 years old, Mark “Zoolander” Sanchez will most likely be modeling full time, and Tannehill will have two full years under his belt and on the verge of a breakout year.
Most importantly, only a little over a third of the players on a team’s active roster today will still be with that same team three years from now. At least, that’s the case with the 2009 Miami Dolphins. Only 18 players out of those 53 are still on the team. That’s just 34% retention. Because of age, salary caps, free agency, trades, and the draft, personnel changes are inevitable and can be drastic from year to year. With so many unknowns and unlimited possibilities, what’s the point of conducting projections for power rankings in 2015? And if you are going to do one, at least try to have some valid arguments.