Now before anyone gets upset, let me say this… I feel your pain. Especially those of us that experienced Super Bowls, AFC Championships, Playoffs, and winning seasons almost every year. We expect to WIN! We, as fans, were conditioned to winning.
But, it’s not hard to see that this team has been mediocre (if not worse) since Don Shula retired. With all due respect to Jimmy Johnson, he came here and quite frankly, his heart wasn’t in it any longer. The 100+ hour weeks, the time away from his family… I just don’t think Johnson was able to give it his absolute best. Many will disagree with me, but just hear me out.
Dan Marino had to go to Coach Johnson’s office during the offseason before his fourth and final season and ask him to stay. Johnson had been mulling retirement and was leaning that way until Marino talked to him. Marino thought we were primed for a Super Bowl run and that Johnson was the guy to help the Dolphins/Marino get there. However, Johnson insisted that he hire Dave Wannestedt to be his Assistant Head Coach and apparent heir.
We all know how that season ended. Johnson resigned/retired and Wannestedt took over as Head Coach. Now one thing we all can agree on is that Johnson knew talent. And, he had an amazing ability to trim a roster and work with the salary cap. With a roster built by Jimmy Johnson, Wannestedt was able to go 11-5 in the 2000 season with Jay Fiedler behind center. That’s one mistake Wannestedt made… supposedly he didn’t like Marino and had made it known that “Dan the Man” would no longer be the Dolphins starting quarterback. Hence, Marino retired and Jay Fiedler was under center for 2000.
I won’t go through a season-by-season synopsis. That’s too depressing. But, the fact is the team should have made moves in the draft to replace Marino with a draft pick. As good as he was Marino was not going to play forever. I think had Shula not been forced into retirement that he would have addressed Marino’s eventual replacement in the ’96 draft. That’s strictly my opinion, but Shula knew about depth and replacing players.
After trading for RB Ricky Williams the Dolphins finished a disappointing 3rd in the AFC East and missed the playoffs. This was a good team, but a lack of focus lead to a 3-game losing streak midseason after a 5-1 start, and a 4-3 finish after that and a disappointing 9-7 record. NO PLAYOFFS!
Despite a 10-6 record in 2003 the Dolphins failed to make the playoffs again and then Williams abruptly retired before 2004 and, well… the rest is history. We bring in a college coach who OBVIOUSLY didn’t like coaching professionals and did not like living in Miami. “Nameless” moved on back to some college and then the Dolphins were never quite the same.
Cam Cameron (rolling my eyes); here comes Bill Parcells along with Jeff Ireland (GM) and Tony Sparano (RIP). Huizenga sells the team to Ross and true to his word, Parcells bolts! Ireland is the GM. Sparano does his best with what Ireland puts on the roster, but the worst thing I’ve ever seen is an owner and GM flying off to California to woo Jim Harbaugh to come coach your team.
Why? Because you totally disrespected Tony Sparano! He was still under contract as the Dolphins Head Coach. Harbaugh understood this and told Ross and Ireland to pound sand. That then leads to the strangest and most awkward press conference I’ve ever seen as Ross, Ireland and Sparano gather before the cameras to announce a 1-year extension for coach Sparano. Chalk up another losing season before one snap.
Because of the actions of our owner and GM, the team had no confidence that Sparano would be there past that one season. And it showed.
Sparano was gone after a 4-9 start to the 2011 season. And it gets worse. Joe Philbin never got it done. in 2016 Adam Gase rides the legs of Jay Ajayi and an improved Ryan Tannehill and we squeak into a Wild Card loss to the Steelers. Then he becomes a “HEADGASE” and we go 6-10 and 7-9. He has spats with players, namely Jay Ajayi who he ships off to Philadelphia. Then after the final game of the season, a road loss to Buffalo, Gase disses the owner!
So, here we are! The rebuild to end all rebuilds begins in 2019. Chris Grier becomes GM and Brian Flores Head Coach. The roster is completely dismantled. The 2020 team completely over-performed and exceeded ALL expectations by going 10-6. That created more excitement for this 2021 team, and perhaps, unrealistic expectations.
But, for a fanbase that’s hungry to get back to being mentioned as championship caliber year in and year out… it’s not enough. But, I say, remember back to 2019 when we began this major overhaul. Did anyone expect the Dolphins to win 10 games in 2020? Did anyone really expect that in the lead up to the 2021 season that we would be talking about being a playoff team? Be honest. No! We didn’t.
So, let’s all take a step back and get our heads out of the clouds. Let’s all realize that what we’re seeing right now in 2021 is probably what we all expected heading into 2019. So, why is everyone ready to jump ship? Let it play out. Then let’s see what they do to fix the holes in the roster heading into 2022. We have the most cap space of any team heading into 2022 (I think). Holes can now be filled while keeping a very young core that could create a winning roster for YEARS! Keep the faith DOLFANS!
And cheer LOUDLY!