Hyde: Dol­phins need QB depth

Mi­ami needs to learn not to put all hope on only one quar­ter­back.

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

This is a column about how the Dol­phins shouldn’t put all their hopes on one quar­ter­back, and only one, in the man­ner they al­ways have.

And never get right. But be­fore I get there, a word about Kyler Mur­ray.

The Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back will still mea­sure a frac­tion un­der 5 feet 10 this week at the NFL Com­bine.

He will still weigh slightly north of 200 pounds with a hearty, pre-weigh-in break­fast.

His numbers will be head­lined and de­bated, but not sway any­one’s thoughts for bet­ter or worse. We’ve al­ready reached the point where teams ei­ther want Mur­ray or don’t, ei­ther think his small body will sur­vive like Russell Wil­son or col­lapse like Robert Grif­fin III.

“Love him,” said a top scout of an NFC team. “He’s where the game’s go­ing.”

“He’s li­able to put you in the play­offs next year,” Jimmy John­son said. “He’s that good. But he’s li­able to get hurt the sec­ond game of the sea­son, too.”

This isn’t to take a pro or con side on Mur­ray (though I’m pro). It’s to note quar­ter­backs al­ways di­vide peo­ple. It was last year with a sim­i­larly dy­namic player, if less ac­cu­rate passer, in La­mar Jack­son.

Two years ago, Kan­sas City’s Andy Reid loved Pa­trick Ma­homes and teams need­ing quar­ter­backs such as Buf­falo and Cleve­land passed.

You can do this with ev­ery draft. What you do know is teams that back up their quar­ter­back plan have a bet­ter chance at suc­ceed­ing. You don’t need to see Kan­sas City had a de­cent quar­ter­back in Alex Smith when it drafted Ma­homes or Bal­ti­more had Joe Flacco when tak­ing Jack­son.

Look closer to him. Take the Dol­phins last failed ven­ture in 2012. They drafted Ryan Tan­nehill eighth over­all. That’s the last quar­ter­back they in­vested in un­less you count a sixth-round pick for Bran­don Doughty or some pocket change for Brock Osweiler an in­vest­ment.

Wash­ing­ton and Seat­tle needed quar­ter­backs that 2012 draft, too. Wash­ing­ton traded three firstround picks and a sec­on­dround pick for the sec­ond over­all pick to get Grif­fin III. Even with that in­vest­ment, it drafted Kirk Cousins in the fourth round. Who worked out bet­ter?

That same draft Seat­tle al­ready had in­cum­bent starter Tar­varis Jack­son and free-agent buy Matt Flynn on the ros­ter. It took an un­der­sized Russell Wil­son in the third round. They didn’t know who would work out. But they hit gold in Wil­son.

If the Dol­phins had a time ma­chine, they would do a dozen things dif­fer­ently with their quar­ter­back picks. But the com­mon thread to the mis­takes is they bet their fu­ture on one quar­ter­back. Seven years for Tan­nehill? Four years for Chad Henne?

Some in­side the Dol­phins think their for­mer coach and cur­rent New York Jets coach Adam Gase leaked to ESPN their plan to wait un­til the 2020 draft for a quar­ter­back. That’s rich, if true, con­sid­er­ing Gase is now paired with a quar­ter­back he didn’t like last draft in Sam Darnold.

Gen­eral Man­ager Chris Grier de­nied that’s the Dol­phins plan. But it would con­nect the dots for a team openly talk­ing of los­ing to wait un­til the quar­ter­back-rich draft in 2020.

Still, if they’ve learned any­thing from the past two decades, it’s that they shouldn’t put all hope in one quar­ter­back. Stock­pile them. Un­like last year when Gase thought he was so smart for hav­ing four quar­ter­backs on a ros­ter where only Ryan Tan­nehill mat­tered, this would be a year for four hopes.

“Or­ga­ni­za­tions make quar­ter­backs,” Bill Walsh was fond of say­ing. His San Fran­cisco 49ers were proof of that by hav­ing a sys­tem and sur­round­ing tal­ent so third-round pick Joe Mon­tana and trade ac­qui­si­tion Steve Young won multiple Su­per Bowls.

The Dol­phins are proof of that, too. Their or­ga­ni­za­tion has been a clown out­fit for too much of the past two decades. There re­main ques­tions about Grier, con­sid­er­ing he was a prime part of the past regime.

For a new coach­ing staff, Grier has as­sem­bled an ex­pe­ri­ence-heavy or­ga­ni­za­tion with the likes of for­mer Oak­land gen­eral man­ager Reg­gie McKen­zie and for­mer Su­per Bowl coach Jim Cald­well.

Mur­ray is the first big de­ci­sion for them. There’s a lot of non­sense out there al­ready, like Las Ve­gas odd­s­mak­ers mak­ing the Dol­phins the fa­vorites to take Mur­ray. Based on what?

Here’s the larger point: The Dol­phins need to in­vest in a quar­ter­back now. And then prob­a­bly again in 2020. And maybe again. This fran­chise re­ally has only made one smart quar­ter­back de­ci­sion, con­sid­er­ing Dan Marino fell into their lap in 1983.

Gen­eral Man­ager Joe Thomas took Ken­tucky quar­ter­back Rick Nor­ton with the ex­pan­sion fran­chise’s first over­all pick in 1966. He then took Bob Griese with the fourth pick in 1967. When asked why, Thomas said, “I’m go­ing to keep tak­ing one un­til I know I have one.”

Have these Dol­phins failed enough to fi­nally learn that les­son?


Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Kyler Mur­ray, the 2018 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner, has high po­ten­tial, but his size could also be a dis­ad­van­tage.

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