10 steps to suc­cess for Dol­phins to con­sider

Moves should in­clude let­ting some big­ger names go else­where

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - Dave Hyde

Be­fore we get go­ing with the an­nual mas­ter plan of how to fix the Mi­ami Dol­phins in 10 sim­ple steps, do you re­al­ize the layup they’ve handed me this year? How easy this be­comes the stated plan to lose from owner Steve Ross?

If the plan is to lose, and they end up los­ing a lot, does that mean the com­ing sea­son is a suc­cess?

It’s all mak­ing my head spin more than it usu­ally does dur­ing Dol­phins off­sea­sons. Look, it’s good the Dol­phins re­al­ize they’re not close to con­tend­ing in the man­ner they typ­i­cally believe when they sim­ply ap­ply a ban­dage to prob­lems. There are ma­jor is­sues and they’re fac­ing them.

That’s good, but be care­ful. It’s a slip­pery slope from em­brac­ing one bad sea­son to turn­ing into the Cleve­land Browns with end­less los­ing years.

But on­ward — and down­ward — with my plan:

1. Ei­ther trade (think pos­i­tive) or say good­bye to quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill as a des­ig­nated post-June 1 cut. It hasn’t worked for seven years. By des­ig­nat­ing him as a post-June 1 cut, the Dol­phins will cre­ate $18.75 mil­lion in cap space, which sounds nice. But they’re not go­ing to spend it, so it re­ally just sounds nice.

2. Strate­gi­cally trade Xavien Howard if you’re not draft­ing a quar­ter­back this spring. Howard is the best player on Team Tear­down. He’d be the most ex­pen­sive too at north of $15 mil­lion a year with a needed, new deal. At 25, he is in his prime. Of the eight Pro Bowl cor­ner­backs this year, one was 29. Do the time­line math, add in foot­ball risk, and mov­ing him is the best op­tion.

But don’t just trade Howard for a first-round pick. (If Amari Cooper is worth one in mid­sea­son, Howard is worth more.) Trade him to a team that could be bad in 2019 and will give you a top-half draft pick in 2020. Wash­ing­ton (big dream: pack­aged with Tan­nehill)? Tampa Bay? The New York Gi­ants? Dou­ble-down on be­ing as­sured of a quar­ter­back in the 2020 draft (trad­ing up with this pick if nec­es­sary) or of an­other good, young player.

3. Make the other com­mon­sense cuts. That means any­one who can’t play up to his con­tract due to deteriorating ta­lent, in­jury, age, time­line or money: An­dre Branch ($7 mil­lion), Robert Quinn ($12.9M), Josh Sit­ton ($5M), Akeem Spence

($3.25M) and DeVante Parker

($9.3M for a fifth-year op­tion). I like Ja’Wuan James, but he’ll make his money else­where as he doesn’t fit this re­build. Now

comes the big headache and …

4. … that’s cut­ting Re­shad Jones when health al­lows. If win­ning mat­tered next year, Jones would be kept de­spite an­other shoul­der surgery that he an­nounced Fri­day. But win­ning isn’t the first is­sue and Jones cut him­self by quit­ting against the New York Jets last sea­son. Throw in the in­jury and him be­ing reg­u­larly late to meet­ings, and you’ve got the kind of headache you don’t hand a new coach. The real prob­lem here is Adam Gase was al­lowed more con­trol af­ter the

2016 play­off sea­son and re­warded play­ers with dumb con­tracts. Jones is Ex­hibit A with $11 mil­lion of his $13 mil­lion guar­an­teed for

2019. An­other $4 mil­lion of his

$11.5 mil­lion con­tract for 2020 gets guar­an­teed on the third day of the new league year in March. Pass the as­pirin. But if this is a new start, make it one.

5. Sign free-agent quar­ter­back Ty­rod Tay­lor. He’s a solid pro who won’t cost a lot and, hope­fully, matches Mi­ami’s thoughts on the com­ing mo­bile quar­ter­back

in Kyler Mur­ray this draft or Tua Tago­v­ailoa next draft. Op­tion B: A more pop­u­lar and more ex­pen­sive Teddy Bridge­wa­ter, who could be a bridge to a drop­back passer such as Justin Her­bert or Jake Fromm in next year’s draft.

6. Re-sign Laremy Tun­sil and Cameron Wake. Sure, Tun­sil

came in the same draft as Howard, but there’s two dif­fer­ences: 1) Tack­les play longer than cor­ner­backs and (2) You need him to pro­tect your fu­ture quar­ter­back, who­ever that is and when­ever you get him. Build­ing the of­fen­sive line is Mis­sion No. 2 be­hind get­ting a quar­ter­back. Wake? A good pro who, if he wants back, is wel­come at the right price. 7. Bring back the retro uni­forms full time. My old-fash­ioned thought is any­one over 18 doesn’t give uni­forms more than a quick, once-over of thumbs up or down. But enough Dol­phins fans go crazy over this that I’m hop­ing to di­vert their at­ten­tion to any­thing pain­less.

8. Don’t sign any­one just to change “cul­ture.” The coach sets the cul­ture. Yes, some good vet­er­ans will help, but this is Brian Flores’ job by the stan­dards he sets and de­ci­sions he makes. The Gase era went side­ways when he be­gan look­ing for other peo­ple to set his cul­ture for him.

9. Don’t sign any­one in the first week of free agency. Or over 29 to be more than a oneyear stop-gap. Or off the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers. Or any of the other ways the Dol­phins have screwed up with free agency the past two decades.

10. Cross your fin­gers on the draft. The Dol­phins could use some luck as they take this am­bi­tious road. I’m not a fan of tank­ing, but if my plan fails, that’s a win, right?


Mi­ami Dol­phins owner Steve Ross, left, new coach Brian Flores, cen­ter, and gen­eral man­ager Chris Grier have plenty of work ahead of them to get the fran­chise back on the right track. But they should re­frain from us­ing any short­cuts in the re­build­ing process.

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