Dolphins 2017 big-money blunders make us question front office

DAVIE, FL - APRIL 29: Head coach Adam Gase and Executive Vice President, Football OperationsMike Tannenbaum of the Miami Dolphins talks to members of the press concerning first round draft pick Laremy Tunsil at their training faciility on April 29, 2016 in Davie, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
DAVIE, FL - APRIL 29: Head coach Adam Gase and Executive Vice President, Football OperationsMike Tannenbaum of the Miami Dolphins talks to members of the press concerning first round draft pick Laremy Tunsil at their training faciility on April 29, 2016 in Davie, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Coming off a 2016 season and a playoff appearance for the 1st time since 2008, the Miami Dolphins highly disappointing 2017 season broke nearly all the trust they had earned from the fan base the year before.

Since the season’s end, it turns out many of the Dolphins 2017 offseason bigger-money free agent signings and extensions did not work out leaving us to question (once again) the coaching, the talent to evaluate personnel, the decision-making, and ability to spend cap space responsibly.

Let’s start with the Dolphins signal-caller of the 2017 season.

QB Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler was a disaster as a replacement starting quarterback. Not only did he tease his 3rd team with his arm when he arrived, he once again showed to an organization that he wasn’t a difference maker and more of a disappointment who couldn’t live up to expectations.

Everyone and their mother knew Cutler was virtually done on the field. Coming off of a major shoulder injury in 2016 in which he only played 5 games and was eventually put on injured reserve, Cutler was on his way out of the NFL and into the broadcasting booth until Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down with an ACL injury in the 1st week of training camp.

This led to 1 team giving Cutler a call– the Miami Dolphins. Head coach Adam Gase thought he could rekindle the “success” the two had back in 2015 when Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears (*cough* 6-10 *cough*, *cough* 21st in Total Offense *cough*. Oh dear, excuse me).

Yeah… they achieved the same “success” here: 6-10 (25th Total Offense)
Backup quarterback Matt Moore would’ve given the Dolphins that. Heck, he did it in 2011 (he would do it throwing downfield too).

Not only did the Dolphins fail to correctly evaluate what Cutler had left, but they also decided invest about $10 million of their remaining 2017 cap space (at the time) into a player who would only be with them for 1 season and was not in their plans for their future. So even if Cutler got the Dolphins to the playoffs, what then?

And as I mentioned at the time of the Cutler-signing, this move could lead to cap difficulties when it comes to re-signing wide receiver Jarvis Landry who is set to hit the free agent market in March.

So that’s a miss for personnel evaluation — GM Chris Grier

A potential miss when it comes to the betterment of the team’s future when it comes to keeping their own– VP Mike Tannenbaum

And a HUGE miss for Adam Gase, because we all know the decision was mostly his.

LB Lawrence Timmons

Another disappointing signing was linebacker Lawrence Timmons who the Dolphins acquired via free agency from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now, I’ll admit, this was my favorite signing of the 2017 offseason for the Miami Dolphins. Timmons came to the team with a run-stuffing & tackling-machine reputation playing as an inside linebacker for a 3-4 defense. This was a linebacker the Miami Dolphins have not had since Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett in 2012. The man had 6 triple-digit combined-tackle seasons since 2010 with the Steelers before arriving to the Dolphins, hadn’t missed a game since 2009… How can you not like that?

His only knock? Not so good in pass coverage.

But I thought to myself: “That’s not a problem. The Dolphins know what they are doing now. They’ll obviously put him in the middle and draft an outside linebacker. Timmons will be stop-gap guy for the next 2 years while they search for a young replacement.”


The Dolphins put Timmons on the outside as a SAM linebacker, drafted another middle linebacker from Ohio State Raekwon McMillan in the 2nd round (McMillan had a 3rd-round grade in some NFL Circles) instead of an OLB to complete the unit (like a Zach Cunningham who was a Mike Manock Top 5 LB Prospect), and eventually realized Timmons ain’t so good as a coverage linebacker in the nickel package. The Dolphins eventually began playing Stephone Anthony — an athletic linebacker from the New Orleans Saints of whom the team traded for after Timmons went AWOL in Week 2 — in Timmons’ place during passing downs.

Now, if Timmons was playing MLB on a 2-year deal worth $12 million, I would be fine with that, but he wasn’t. He was playing as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense which he was not suited for based on his skill set. When you compare this to an actual athletic younger free-agent OLB who the Dolphins were chasing after they signed Timmons — Zach Brown, who signed with the Washington Redskins on a 1-year/$2.3 million deal– this makes the Timmons deal very skeptical.

Timmons was ranked as the 67th-best LB in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus.
Redskins Zach Brown – #50
Houston Texans rookie Zach Cunningham – #22

According to the local buzz around the team, Lawrence Timmons is not expected to be with the Dolphins in 2018, and it’s hard to directly point the finger at who is to blame for the Timmons miss.

Mike Tannenbaum & Chris Grier did bring in a good player, and the contract wasn’t so outlandish for the talent they were acquiring.   Timmons was 3rd on the team in tackles with 84, after all.

Some blame can go to Chris Grier for drafting an MLB after just signing a linebacker who was suited for the position and passing on a Top LB prospect in the draft who fits as an OLB in a 4-3.

Blame can also go to coaching for not moving Timmons to MLB once Stephone Anthony got situated. But I also understand how defensive coordinator Matt Burke’s hands were tied with the talent he had to work with (Most of the linebackers on the Dolphins depth chart fit the MLB skill set).

In the end, our next player was more of a hole at linebacker.