Ah the 2021 off-season… where do I even begin? The fact of the matter is this off-season was one of the most confusing, stressful, and uncertain times during my stretch covering the Dolphins. The biggest elephant in the room was of course the QB controversy, the trade for Deshaun Watson. I won’t spend too much time on it since the story has been dragged on for so long and everything that needed to be said has been said. But in short this move was a distraction, a morale killer for the locker room, and a true bad taste in the mouth for fans and many people within and outside of the team.
If there is one thing that is certain is that after the trade deadline the clouds seemed to clear from above the franchise, and the team responded to it well as they have been playing with much more heart and passion ever since, at least in my opinion. Watson was the biggest head scratcher especially after not moving forward with any type of deal, and crushing your QBs confidence in the process. Tagovailoa has been the upmost professional and has been focused on football so I give him major props for pushing through the rough waters to where the team is now, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and go back to the 21′ off-season.
The next most critical mistake made was Flores thought he could bite more than he could chew, meaning he ignored the influence & impact from many of the veterans and staple pieces of the team. High character guys who had good performing years in 2020 were let go, you’re talking guys like Bobby McCain, Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras and others. Of course these weren’t elite or pro bowl level players but they provided veteran leadership to a very young & inexperienced team.
The next head scratching move was bringing in veterans to fill holes needed within the roster to then cut them before the season started. Players like Bernardrick McKinney and Matt Skura being signed and then cut within the same off season was very confusing, but fans and media wanted to brush it off as “Flores knows what he’s doing” well does he?
For the most part yes, but it is obvious that Flores tried to implement the same system used with the Patriots which was doing more with less. This explains the reasoning for cutting players that were no highlight of the team but weren’t anything close to a weak link either, and that is also how the Dolphins ended up paying players to pay for other teams this same season, like Kyle Van Noy and Ereck Flowers.
These are decisions whose impact was big enough to transition into the season, and some will say affected the team for most of the season. Since the Miami Dolphins did not seem to show a pulse until week 9 against the Houston Texans, and week 10 in a defensive master class against the Baltimore Ravens. But before that this team looked dead in the water and unmotivated, almost ready to throw the towel in.