Miami Dolphins: Ranking the 5 Biggest Offseason Mistakes

Eric HampfordContributor IIIMarch 27, 2012

Miami Dolphins: Ranking the 5 Biggest Offseason Mistakes

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    The Miami Dolphins have been one of the most struggling National Football League franchises over the past decade. After finishing the 2011 season third in the AFC East with a 6-10 record, it has been abundantly clear that the Dolphins needed to make roster changes during this offseason.

    Unfortunately for not only the franchise, but for its fans as well, Miami has made virtually no progress toward leaving the misery of the past three NFL seasons behind them. What they have done is struck out on several big name free-agent prospects while also making head-scratching trades and acquisitions over the past three months. 

    Here are the five biggest mistakes that the Miami Dolphins front office has made so far this offseason.

5. Believing That Matt Moore Is a Starting NFL Quarterback

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    The belief that 27-year-old veteran quarterback Matt Moore is a starter in the league is a mistake that could keep the team from being successful for several years to come.

    As a starter in his fifth season in the NFL, he put up extremely underwhelming numbers in Miami. He finished the season with only 16 touchdown passes compared to his nine interceptions. He threw for 2,497 yards for an 87.1 percent quarterback rating. While his passer rating was good for 12th best in the league, his overall numbers and decision making were mediocre at best.

    He would be an ideal fit as a backup for the Dolphins, but he will never lead this team back to the playoffs and beyond.

4.Trading Brandon Marshall

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    Brandon Marshall always has been, and always will be, an enigma in the league. He has the overall talent and physical skills to be one of the biggest impact receivers in the game. However, his off-the-field actions have tended to overshadow his star play on the field.

    The three-time Pro Bowl wideout caught 81 passes during the 2011 season for an impressive 1,214 yards. He also reeled in six touchdowns. The 6'4", 230-pound receiver's skills and football instincts make him one of the most dangerous players in the entire NFL. 

    For such a struggling franchise, it's hard to imagine how they can possibly afford to let go of such a talent, regardless of his off-field actions. With an unproven quarterback at the helm in Matt Moore, letting go of Marshall makes this offseason move even more puzzling.

3. Not Hiring Jeff Fisher as Head Coach

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    One thing that the Miami Dolphins needed perhaps more than anything else during the offseason, was the hiring of a proven, successful NFL coach.

    That coach was Jeff Fisher, who was reportedly at one point very close to heading to Miami. It seemed like a logical decision, considering the other team in the running for his services was the St. Louis Rams, a team which has many more dire, immediate needs than the Dolphins.

    However, he ultimately decided to make the move to St. Louis, which makes you wonder what exactly went wrong in Fisher's talks with the Miami Dolphins. Either way, they settled for Joe Philbin, who only has NFL coaching experience as the Green Bay Packers' offensive coordinator.

2. Not Signing Matt Flynn

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    The free-agent battle for former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn was nowhere near as fierce as the fight for Peyton Manning, but it had nearly as much importance for the Miami Dolphins.

    After missing out on Manning, you would think that the Dolphins would have put all of their effort, energy, and money into landing Flynn. However, the team was hesitant to invest their money in the unproven, yet talented young quarterback.

    The Seattle Seahawks weren't as hesitant, and won the battle for Flynn's services, signing him to a three-year, $26 million dollar deal. The Miami Dolphins' belief in Matt Moore is quite encouraging for their starting quarterback, but will the pressure to succeed see him cave under intensity of it? Time will tell. 

1. Losing the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes

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    The one offseason move that could prove to be the most damaging to the franchise over the next five years is the team's loss in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.

    The Denver Broncos' gain is the Dolphins' loss, and while Manning doesn't have another 10 seasons left in the tank, he still has the ability to take a team to a Super Bowl. While there is no question that the Dolphins aren't going to make a deep playoff run in the 2012 season, Peyton could have definitely helped bring the team out of the basement of the AFC East. 

    The Dolphins seemed to miscalculate the interest that Manning had in coming to Miami, and pursuing him harder could have paid dividends overall. Their inability to land the 11-time Pro Bowl player and 2006 Super Bowl champion is the icing on the cake of what has turned out to be a completely devastating offseason for Miami.