Hyde: Way to win isn’t los­ing

Tank­ing a sea­son to get a fran­chise QB doesn’t work for Dol­phins.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - Dave Hyde

Ei­ther the Dol­phins have been walk­ing in the wilder­ness too long, or I’ve been get­ting too much sun fol­low­ing them all these lonely years, be­cause some of what they’re plan­ning ac­tu­ally makes sense to me. Some of it.

Not all of it.

The cor­po­rate flow chart go­ing through one per­son. Smart. End­ing this false premise that they’re “close” and so will can quit find­ing stop-gap play­ers. Smart. The re­al­iza­tion af­ter seven years to take the keys from quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill. Hey, they get no points for be­ing smart by this time.

Fi­nally, there’s the suggested idea they need to tank a sea­son or three — maybe fin­ish 3-13, Dol­phins owner Steve Ross said — to get a fran­chise quar­ter­back and set up their ros­ter in a man­ner that al­lows a sus­tained win­ner.

I’m not on board.

This isn’t the recipe to win in the NFL. A lost team will try any­thing, you see. That’s why they’re lost. The big con­cern is that Ross is so lost af­ter try­ing ev­ery­thing else that he has thrown up his hands in the air and said they might as well be bad enough to draft a top-ranked quar­ter­back.

Sure, that could work. In­di­anapo­lis, af­ter all, lucked into draft­ing An­drew Luck with the No. 1 pick just as Pey­ton Man­ning, a pre­vi­ous first pick, was again. But to un­der­stand how los­ing doesn’t beget great­ness, Luck’s Colts are in the play­offs for the first

time in four years.

Equally telling to the Dol­phins’ new plan, only two quar­ter­backs drafted at No. 1 are in the play­offs this year. The other is the Los An­ge­les Rams’ Jared Goff. But the Rams didn’t tank for Goff ’s pick. They traded up from 15th to the top spot for Goff. They were bold and smart, in other words, not aw­ful.

Let’s take this fur­ther. The only two quar­ter­backs drafted in the top 10 to win Su­per Bowls this mil­len­nium were the Man­ning brothers, Pey­ton and Eli (they won four com­bined). That’s it. Two. In the top 10 picks.

You see, tank­ing pur­posely and draft­ing high isn’t the model for win­ning in the NFL. Be­ing smart is. Hav­ing a great front of­fice is. Show­ing bold­ness and vi­sion is. That’s why the de­ci­sion to pro­mote Chris Grier to the foot­ball czar of the team is the big­gest move they’ll make for years — for bet­ter or worse.

The Dol­phins don’t need to Tank-for-Tua or Bomb-for-Fromme, no mat­ter how many times we yuk it up with those de­scen­dants of Suck-for-Luck in the com­ing months.

They need to Can’t-Miss Chris in the draft room. He’s been it that room for years, too. To spin that in a pos­i­tive way, maybe af­ter see­ing all the mis­takes he’s ed­u­cated what not to do.

Grier’s shop­ping list is daunt­ing. Both lines are a mess. They need an­other cor­ner­back and a top re­ceiver. Their tight end and mid­dle line­backer are young ques­tions. And then there’s the is­sue of quar­ter­back that’s plagued this fran­chise for years.

Maybe tank­ing will de­liver a great quar­ter­back to the Dol­phins. But, again, look at the data if you think that’s the right way to go. Of the 12 quar­ter­backs in these play­offs, six (Luck, Goff, Phillip Rivers, Mitchell Tru­bisky, De­shaun Wat­son and Patrick Ma­homes) were taken in the top 15 of the draft.

That’s not the telling stat, though. Of those six, five were in­volved in trades. Luck was the only quar­ter­back taken by the orig­i­nal team in the orig­i­nal draft slot. All the oth­ers were part of some big­ger plan and bolder de­sign. Again, smart teams win.

The other six quar­ter­backs

in the draft tell an­other story. Lamar Jack­son and Drew Brees were drafted 32nd over­all. Rus­sell Wil­son and Nick Foles were third-round picks. Dak Prescott was a fourthround pick, and Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick.

So more than a top-shelf draft pick, you need some­one who rec­og­nizes tal­ent. Grier prob­a­bly will have to de­cide this draft whether Ohio State quar­ter­back Dwyane Hask­ins is po­ten­tially bet­ter than any­one com­ing out in 2019. With the 13th pick, he’d have to move up to get Hask­ins. And out­wit other teams.

That’s a lot of big con­clu­sions and mov­ing parts to pull off in a draft. But that’s how win­ning teams win. Not sim­ply by los­ing. Not by be­ing so bad they’re first in the food line. If they’re not smart enough to find a quar­ter­back, they’re not smart enough to as­sem­ble all the nec­es­sary other parts to win.

Yes, to the Dol­phins re­al­iz­ing they aren’t “close” and plan­ning ac­cord­ingly. Yes, to putting one per­son in charge of foot­ball op­er­a­tions. Yes, to fi­nally re­al­iz­ing Tan­nehill isn’t the right guy.

But win­ning by los­ing? Dumb teams will try any­thing. That’s why they’re dumb teams. Let’s hope Grier has a bet­ter vi­sion and smarter plan than just be­ing aw­ful.

“You see, tank­ing pur­posely and draft­ing high isn’t the model for win­ning in the NFL.”


Mi­ami Dol­phins owner Steve Ross, left, and gen­eral man­ager Chris Grier have a changed plan for the Dol­phins.


Dol­phins owner Steve Ross has put GM Chris Grier in charge of all foot­ball op­er­a­tions.

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