Hyde: Dolphins need QB depth
Miami needs to learn not to put all hope on only one quarterback.
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.