Please don’t hate me, Dolphins’ fans. I want to see y’all succeed too. Hell, I’m the biggest Dolphins’ fan in the world two weeks a year. Unfortunately, the organization as a whole has been progressively worse every year.
Everyone can point out a handful of the worst franchises in the NFL. The Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, and Jacksonville Jaguars have all been on there for a good number of years at this point, and then there are others like the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions which are starting to make their way onto the list.
If you asked 100 average NFL fans who the worst organizations are, I can assert with 99.9 percent certitude that none of them would mention the Miami Dolphins. The perfect 17-0 franchise. The great Don Shula. The great Dan Marino. Two Super Bowl Championship and 20 playoff appearances between 1970 and 2000 including two other AFC Championships.
Well, the Miami Dolphins are doing their best to join this elite group of losers with their recent dysfunctionality.
After a Wild Card loss to the Baltimore Ravens at the end of the 2001 season, it would take the Dolphins until 2008 to make it back to postseason football. On the way there, the team finished 4-12 in 2004 and 1-15 in 2007. After another Wild Card loss to the Ravens in 2008, the Dolphins have failed to make it back to January football—or .500 for that matter.
It’s hard to say exactly when the Dolphins went from a marquee team to one that the Alabama Crimson Tide could probably replace. Marino retired in 1999, so it wasn’t his exodus from the beach that caused some immediate implosion. The Fins maintained a winning record for the next four seasons.
I guess the easiest place to start is right before the Dolphins’ last playoff appearance—the 2008 NFL Draft, General Manager Jeff Ireland’s first rodeo in Miami.
The 2008 season went well for the Dolphins after a 1-15 season the previous year earned them the top selection in the draft. Their picks, however, doesn’t look overly good seven years later:
The No. 1 overall choice, offensive tackle Jake Long, is now on the Atlanta Falcons roster and suffered two torn ACLs in his short career.
The top pick in the second round was defensive lineman Philip Merling. If you haven’t heard of him, it’s because he’s not even in the NFL anymore. Chad Henne was also drafted that year, and after some unsuccessful years starting in Miami, he ended up with Florida’s other sad franchise.
Let’s hit some other highlights from Ireland’s tenure with the Dolphins:
In 2010, Ireland asked Dez Bryant’s mom if she was a prostitute during a pre-draft interview. Classic.
The 2013 Draft Class consisted of Dion Jordan who—to be fair has been really good—is suspended for the season; Jamar Taylor, who sits on the bench these days; Dallas Thomas, who plays but sucks; and Will Davis, who was later traded away for a late-round draft pick. Good job, Jeff.
And, of course, let’s not forget about the whole Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin fiasco which was a national embarrassment for both the franchise and the league as a whole. Ireland told Martin that the best way to settle it would be to punch Incognito.
Atta boy, great general managing, Jeff! At least it’s better than the ‘call his mom a whore’ route.
Bad draft, bad signings, horrible player interviews, and recently-fired head coach Joe Philbin pretty much sum up the embarrassment of the Ireland Era in Miami.
Without Ireland, the team finished 8-8 last season with the promise of competing with the New England Patriots for the AFC East crown in 2015. Good luck with that.
Dennis Hickey is running the show now, but he isn’t showing much more promise. $77 million for Ryan Tannehill? Am I the only one that still thinks quarterbacks need to prove themselves before taking up half the salary cap? Have we learned nothing from Jay Cutler!?
That’s not even to mention the $114 million for Ndamukong Suh who has been ignoring coaches and playing it safe on the field. This season is basically already over in Miami, so interim coach Dan Campbell just needs to try and win as many games as possible.
The Raiders look like they’re posed to move up from the bottom of the barrel soon. Perfect timing, the Dolphins have been looking for a parking spot there.
It’s not too late, Miami, but it’ll take a lot more than a top-5 draft pick to get out of this slump.