Dolphins change approach to offseason

Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins have concocted their plan. The blueprint reads dispose of players who warrant large contracts, acquire veterans via free agency, and build through the draft. The question remains, however, if this plan will work.

We still don’t know if this plan will produce more wins—now or in the future—or if it will result in a better, higher-performing product on the field. But what we do know is the Dolphins are looking at free agency much differently than in years past.

Head coach Adam Gase is getting a fresh start in Miami. He’s been granted permission from the higher-ups to strategically pick apart the Dolphins roster, keeping what fits and throwing away what doesn’t.

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Over the years, Dolphins fans have grown accustomed to their team making big splashes in free agency, only to watch them fail miserably on the field. And although this new approach the Dolphins are taking this offseason isn’t the most exciting, it’s different. And different is good.

The definition of insanity is to do something over and over again while expecting different results. So maybe the Dolphins are following their psychiatrist’s prescription. They’re taking their medication, and they aren’t repeating the same mistakes that have crippled them in the past. Maybe this plan has the chance to work!

Personally, I’m in the minority and like what the Dolphins have done this offseason. They’ve stuck to their guns and haven’t given in to temptation. They’ve put away the credit card and started shopping on the sales rack. Sure, in the process they lost some young, talented, home-grown players, but this team is in dire need of an overhaul.

The Dolphins addressed two needs in acquiring both linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles; in exchange, the team’s swapped their first round draft picks. So, essentially, with the eighth pick in the draft, the Dolphins received two potential starters on defense and the 13th pick. That sounds better, doesn’t it?

Instantly, Kiko Alonso—if he stay’s healthy—is an upgrade over Kelvin Sheppard at the middle linebacker position. And at a low price, it could be a steal. Alonso was on his way to becoming one of the best young linebackers in the NFL after his rookie season in Buffalo. The man was all over the field and was extremely versatile. However, two knee injuries have sidelined Alonso for most of his young career. I believe the Dolphins saw value in acquiring him after the 25 year-old stayed healthy the latter part of last season with the Eagles.

Once an All Pro, Maxwell struggled last year in Philadelphia converting from zone coverage to man. However, with his size (6’1 207) he’s a good fit in Vance Joseph’s defense. Maxwell is more comfortable jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and dropping into zone and can be an asset to the Dolphins. At 28, he’s four years younger than Brent Grimes and works better in the defense that we believe Joseph will implement in Miami.

Another addition to the Dolphins defense is defensive end Mario Williams. At 31, Williams is nearing the end of his football career but was once one the best pass rushers in the game. Coming off a horrible season, the Dolphins placed performance incentives in Williams contract in hopes that it will revive him into being the player he once was.

One position the Dolphins had to address this offseason was safety, and they did so with the addition of Isa Abdul-Quddus. The former Fordham standout, Abdul-Quddus comes to Miami after the last two seasons with the Detroit Lions. With Detroit, Abdul-Quddus played strong safety but has said he can play both strong and free safety positions. Currently, the Dolphins have Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones at the strong spot so expect Quddus to play free safety next season.

Of course, it’s hard to watch Brent Grimes, Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby, and Rishard Mathews take their talents elsewhere, but I’m ok with it. It was the toughest for me to watch Lamar Miller go, but I think if the deal with C.J. Anderson goes through it’s a nice, cheaper consolation prize.

There’s still a glaring hole on the Dolphins roster yet to be filled: the guard position. The Dolphins signed two tackles—Jermon Bushrod and Sam Young—for depth, but hope Bushrod can convert to guard despite playing tackle his whole career.

It’s going to be interesting to see what areas the Dolphins address in the draft. They still need a cornerback, guard, and another linebacker.

I won’t make any predictions this early in the offseason, but I don’t expect instant success from this Dolphins team. I do, however, like what they’ve done this offseason. If it takes a few years, so be it. At this point, Dolphins fans just want to see gradual improvement and consistency.