Miami Dolphins off-season plan still unknown 4 weeks into season

Sep 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Dolphins had a plan to get a new head coach as soon as their 2015 season ended. Stephen Ross and company wanted Adam Gase and they got him. The rest of the off-season plan?

Looking back at the 2016 off-season which included the draft in April, there is still questions about what the plan for this years team exactly was. The draft made little sense, the free agency signings didn’t make much sense, and at 1-3 nothing the Dolphins did this off-season makes a lot of sense.

If the Dolphins had opted to rebuild, the entire first month of the season would make a ton of sense. Even the signings of Mario Williams and to a degree the retention of some veterans but Miami wasn’t looking out for their salary cap this year.

The Dolphins biggest move came when they traded back in round one for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. The trade itself was good for the Dolphins as they received a top offensive line project and gained a decent middle linebacker for cheap. Maxwell on the other hand?

Maxwell is expensive this year but he won’t cost the Dolphins much after the season should they release him. And they should. Overall the trade made some sense as it added a cheap linebacker and a corner back. The problem was Maxwell wasn’t filling in the spot opposite Brent Grimes. He was replacing Grimes.

The move to release Grimes left a hole opposite Maxwell and while the Dolphins addressed it with Xavien Howard in round two, there are still depth issues at the position. Now we see Tony Lippett getting the starting action in place of Maxwell.

The cornerback position was confusing entering the off-season and while it seems to still be confusing, it was the one area that made the most sense in terms of a plan. They rid themselves of the Grimes’ family headache, signed a rookie to develop, and took a one year gamble on a veteran to replace Grimes.

The rest doesn’t make much sense.

The signing of Mario Williams in free agency was a push. The contract wasn’t all that big and he was replacing the departed Olivier Vernon. The problem is Miami did nothing to address Vernon being gone and had no back-up plan if Williams didn’t pan out. Williams isn’t playing to the level that the Dolphins had hoped for.

Retaining Cameron Wake made sense but to use Wake as a 3rd down specialist and still pay him a premium salary seems more of a win-now type of thinking. There is no long term future anymore with Wake.

The Dolphins did not do a lot of spending in free agency. Maybe the plan was for Gase to have a full year to evaluate the players that Mike Tannenbaum already drafted the year before or to see if Gase and his staff could coach up some holdovers.

Players like Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi are hopefully being evaluated now. The Dolphins could have and should have parted ways with Jordan Cameron but instead reduced his salary minimally and he has been ineffective thus far.

The bigger question for me however is the draft. While the drafting of Laremy Tunsil and Xavien Howard makes a ton of sense, the drafting of Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant, and even to a degree Kenyan Drake are head scratching.

To be fair to Miami, the Dolphins could view Carroo as a potential replacement for Kenny Stills and Grant could develop into a slot receiver at some point. The fact Miami drafted them in the mid-rounds with so many other needs is what should be questioned.

Drake’s future in Miami is unknown. He doesn’t appear to be a legit number one running back. Not yet. And the fact Miami signed Arian Foster to be the starter tells you the Dolphins don’t view him like that either. Not right now. So why draft him in round three?

In the Adam Gase offense, running backs need to catch the ball and Drake is solid in that area but he was never going to make an impact this season so why not get another cornerback that could? Or a linebacker? Or even another offensive lineman?

The point is the Dolphins can’t afford to miss on too many picks these days and while it’s completely unfair to say the Dolphins missed on any draft picks this year, they still didn’t draft for now but instead for the future. Perhaps that was the ultimate plan.

If the plan was to get players in Miami for 2017 and beyond, then it’s likely time or soon will be time to get those players on the field and get the experience they need. If they do that, then whatever Miami’s off-season plan was might make a little more sense.