For the Miami Dolphins things certainly have gotten desperate. The team has missed the playoffs every year since 2001, but more importantly, they haven’t been a legitimate Super Bowl contender since the days of Dan Marino. Management has apparently decided once and for all that rather than spend the off season buying expensive free agents – just for the hope of making a wild card spot – it’s time to make a fresh start.
Trent Green was one of the first to go. He played hard, but in the long run he simply can’t contribute to a rebuilding team. John Beck is the right choice at QB. Very few of the quarterbacks really excite me from this year’s draft class, and I don’t think any will be able to live up to franchise QB status. I do, however, believe that Beck can be a very capable play maker over the next four or five years (although it will take another season for him to reach his potential).
The big shock was the releasing of Zach Thomas. As a Dolphins fan, I initially went through each of the 5 stages of grief, from denial to acceptance and everywhere in between. Now that I have had time to reflect on the transaction, I truly believe this was the best move for both parties. Thomas looks like he’s headed to Dallas, where he’ll have as good a shot at winning a Super Bowl as anywhere else in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Dolphins need to find a new middle linebacker for their long term success, and hopefully they can find a player who can serve the team with the same ability and dignity that Thomas gave each and every week during his time in Miami.
Losing a veteran player and an icon in Miami is going to be hard (especially if Jason Taylor is given a new home in ’08 as well), but two years from now I think it will become pretty clear that it was necessary to allow the Dolphins to climb out of football obscurity. With a strong draft class in the next couple of years, and some smart but aggressive free agent signings, we’ll soon see not only a playoff contender, but a Super Bowl contender too.