Dolphins Growth Is The Process

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray is a fan of all sports, but mostly the NFL (Dolphins), Premier League (Man Utd), MLB (Mariners), NHL (Ducks), NBA (Heat) and NRL (Warriors) and motorsports. Usually to be found in front of the TV or in a stadium somewhere cheering on one of his teams. Never short of an opinion Ray is always ready to talk sports and is a co-founder of Lazy Fan Sports.

Coming off their most complete game last week, the Dolphins headed to Indianapolis with their own fanbase conflicted over the act of winning a game. While a win, any win, would normally be cause for celebration, Dolphins fans have their own special way of thinking about this season.

Trust The Process

The season has already been arduously long for Miami Dolphins fans. Half the stadium is empty for home games, amid a massive dismantling of last year’s roster by GM Chris Grier. There have been numerous musings on TV, radio, podcasts and the internet, including on this site, about the merits of Grier and Head Coach Brian Flores, and whether they are the right people to lead the team into this mammoth rebuild.

Last week’s win over the New York Jets helped appease many of those nagging questions when it comes to coach Flo. And after another win against the Colts the future looks very bright in his hands.

Fitzpatrick Starting is the proof that Dolphins Growth IS the process © AP Photo/AJ Mast
Fitzpatrick Starting is the proof that Dolphins Growth IS the process © AP Photo/AJ Mast

However, fans are split over the mantra that has followed the Dolphins through the first 10 weeks of this season: Trust the process.

The issue for many fans was the idea that the team was tanking to draft Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. Tanking is always a controversial notion for fans and one that does not have a particularly good record of success.

For example, the Cleveland Browns tanked for three straight seasons and now find themselves at 3-6 this season, just one win ahead of Miami. Hardly a ringing endorsement of such a drastic approach. Especially when you consider that many teams have rebuilt from lean spells with good drafting and a more sensible approach to free-agency.

Now if we ignore the fact that pinning your hopes on one player to turn around your franchise is fanciful. And we ignore the fact that Tua has had multiple ankle surgeries, and hasn’t managed a full 12 game college slate, we’re still left with the fact that he’s not even the consensus best player in the draft

I’m not saying he won’t go on to be a great NFL quarterback. He might. But IF that had been the process, then that would be an incredibly tenuous premise to build your entire franchise around.

Dolphins Growth

What we have witnessed against the Jets, and now against the Colts, is that tanking for the number 1 pick was NEVER the process. Which for everyone paying real attention to this team is a mighty relief, and something incredibly positive.

Don’t get me wrong, I have fallen in love with college players before, and desperately hoped they would fall to the Dolphins. Baker Mayfield was the latest example of a player I was hoping would drop. But his meteoric rise up the rankings meant that was never to be. Now Joe Burrow is the latest QB to vault up from almost obscurity to the number one quarterback ranking.

The thing is it can’t be about one player. It just can’t.

What we have seen from Flores’ Dolphins is a well-coached outfit, particularly over the last 4 or five games. In fact, in my opinion, this Dolphins growth was the process all along.

Coach Flores Is Improving these Dolphins Every Week © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Coach Flores Is Improving these Dolphins Every Week © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriot Way

As much as every fan of every team hates them, the New England Patriots are a model franchise. They don’t overpay for talent. They don’t risk their locker room for wild characters, with the odd exception. And if they do, they are very strict, and quick, to mete out punishment when it is required.

What they are, is well-coached, and well rounded. And this is what Brian Flores seems to be bringing to the Dolphins. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were saying “the Dolphins are clearly tanking. They have players on their team that would only make other teams practice squads.”

But this Dolphins staff has those players winning.

Isn’t that the ultimate goal? For a coaching staff to be able to get the most out of players who aren’t considered the best?

When you have three first-round picks, wouldn’t it be great to know that those players will be playing for good coaches who are getting better week-on-week? Isn’t that better than pinning all your hopes on one player, who you don’t even know will cut it in the NFL for a myriad of reasons?

Trust the process. The Dolphins growth is the process.

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