After losing a heart-breaker to Cleveland, the Miami Dolphins now stand at 0-3 going into two tough road games against the San Diego Chargers and the New York Jets, which both surround their bye week.
Yes, it's officially time for the Dolphins to panic.
The way it's looking right now, Head Coach Tony Sparano won't be in charge of this team much longer. He could be fired next week, or he might finish the season, but unless the team makes a turn around, and quickly, he won't be the Dolphins head coach come January 2nd.
Meanwhile Jeff Ireland isn't exactly sitting pretty either. Last season even if Jim Harbaugh was hired, Ireland would've remained in his position with the Dolphins as general manager. However the longer this season drags on, the more likely it looks that Ireland will be out the door either at the same time that Sparano is relieved of his duties, or a few days after that.
Miami now has a team that competes in the AFC's toughest division, but doesn't have the overall talent (or coaching, actually its more coaching, the talent is fine), to compete. Its obvious to anyone now that the Dolphins' best long term hope is to begin building for the future.
And they can get a head start on that anytime between right now and Tuesday October 18th, which is the NFL trade deadline, by trading an asset for future draft picks.
Miami's most tradable asset: Brandon Marshall.
But why trade him?
Come take a look.
Last season after Miami played their best game of the year (a 33-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders) without Brandon Marshall, I wrote an article posing a question asking if Brandon Marshall was a bigger problem than he was a solution.
Despite an article citing statistics, facts, and making the point that Miami played their best overall offensive game of the year without him, I still got raked through the coals by one fellow Dolphins Featured Columnist who felt that I was just "searching for reads."
I assure you I wasn't then, and am not now. However it is worth mentioning that last season Miami played their best without Marshall (albeit for one game) and the game was against a team that finished 8-8, but 6-0 in their division.
It is also worth mentioning that Marshall was targeted seven times yesterday, but caught four of them. One of those targets was in the red zone, a play that was very beautifully broken up by Browns CB Joe Haden, who is five inches shorter than Marshall and also weighs 40 pounds less.
Actually let's look at the Dolphins in the red zone. Brandon Marshall is the primary target. Now let's look at how many touchdown catches he's made in the red zone.
Just something to think about.
Now say the Dolphins trade Marshall. What happens?
Daniel Thomas would get more carries, that's for sure.
But also the ball would be spread around more amongst Hartline, Bess, Clyde Gates, as well as both Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas out of the backfield.
Tight End Anthony Fasano would be targeted more as well. I'm still confused as to why he's not a bigger target in the red zone. I understand that since he's always lining up next to Colombo he basically has to block Colombo's man, but let Fasano out and allow him to be a weapon.
Miami would be forced to do that without Marshall, and would be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Brandon Marshall wants to be on a winning team.
Throughout his career, Marshall hasn't been to the playoffs. The closest was in 2008 when the Broncos started the season 4-1 and was 8-5 with three games left and had a three game lead over San Diego before blowing it in such a dramatic fashion that Mike Shanahan was out as Broncos head coach, which lead to Jay Cutler being traded to Chicago.
As this season goes on for Miami, the playoffs will look farther and farther away. While the Dolphins were in the playoff race last season until mid-December (even prompting Marshall to guarantee a playoff berth in mid-November), this season the Dolphins could be eliminated from playoff contention by Halloween, if not earlier.
Odds are, Marshall will become frustrated with the situation, causing problems within the locker room and potentially becoming a distraction for the team.
This would drive down his offseason trade value, which leads me to...
Right now you have a team in the Dolphins who are struggling. Any opinions that they still have a chance to make it to the post-season are at best pie in the sky fantasy, at worse a mental illness that should be checked out by a professional. (I hope that reverse jinx works.)
Also right now, Brandon Marshall is quiet. He's not complaining, he's not pouting, and he is still somewhat productive thus far (through three games he has 17 catches for 261 yards and a touchdown).
There's a few teams in win-now mode who would love to have him.
The Chicago Bears have an offense that is already very good, however a big play receiver like Marshall who can also serve as a possession receiver would compliment their burners Johnny Knox and Devin Harris. Currently they have Roy Williams in that role, who's performing exactly as he did in Dallas.
Speaking of Dallas, since Miami loves poaching Cowboys-has-beens so much, why not try to poach future Cowboys from them? I'm sure that Jerry Jones would salivate over the thought of having Brandon Marshall line up opposite Dez Bryant.
Those are only two teams that would be good landing spots for Marshall, I'm sure there are more. For Miami the key is to find win-now teams that need a receiver and will overpay.
Chicago might be desperate, and we all know Jerry falls in love with big time receivers. It could be a seller's market for Miami if they decided to part with The Beast.
Last slide I talked about how Marshall's value will never be higher. I also talked about how this time of year, teams in win-now mode might be willing to overpay.
In April of 2010, Miami acquired Marshall from Denver in exchange for their 2010 and 2011 second round picks.
While that was a good price at the time, it was prior to the draft during the off-season.
This time around its during the regular season when teams are still jockeying for position.
Let's go back to the Roy Williams trade (funny how Roy Williams pops in and out of this: I'm using his trade to gauge Marshall's value, and if Marshall does somehow get traded to Chicago, Williams loses his job).
Dallas sent their 2009 first round, third round, and sixth round picks to Detroit in exchange for Williams. The Lions went on to use the first round pick obtained in the trade for TE Brandon Pettigrew, who has become a reliable target for quarterback Matthew Stafford, chosen first in the draft.
While the other two draft picks for Detroit were flops, they still managed to get a great piece and foundation for their offense out of Roy Williams, who was never as good as Brandon Marshall.
Why not make the same deal with ironically the same team, the Cowboys? Marshall, Austin and Bryant would become the best receiving unit in the NFL the second Marshall lands at DFW.
But the Bears would be the better fit.
See I'm not saying Miami should just give in and trade Brandon Marshall, I'm suggesting it because Marshall could land a first rounder in 2012. This could either give the Dolphins an additional piece to trade up to get Andrew Luck, or if they wind up with the number one pick, then the other first rounder could either be a piece in acquiring other draft picks to put around Luck, or become Luck's number one weapon.
Miami has to plan for the future because...
Allow me to hang my head in shame because I got sucked in by this team again and thought they were a playoff team.
The Dolphins aren't going anywhere this season. The hope is to potentially get the number one pick, but even that's still a reach because the Dolphins won't even be the worst team in the league. Its easy to see them start off 0-10 then win four straight thus costing the Phins Andrew Luck.
So why deal with a potential headache down the line when you can flip him right now and create some kind of foundation for the future? The main point of this article isn't to attack Brandon Marshall in any way, shape or form, but rather to point out that right now, he (and Cameron Wake, and don't think I won't write that article) is Miami's most tradable asset and will net the most back in return in terms of draft picks, which is what the Dolphins need to build the team going forward.
Miami's 2011 season looks like it's DOA, its time to prepare for 2012.
To do that, Brandon Marshall should go. I'd wish the man nothing but the best of luck and would cheer for what ever team he lands on, but in the end it is for the greater good of the team and the future of the Miami Dolphins.
And it would be in Brandon Marshall's best interest as well.
Thomas Galicia is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist who also writes about music, movies, the Miami Heat whenever this stupid lockout ends (and he's praying its soon), the Chicago Cubs, and the WWE. He also knows that most of you will disagree with him on this subject. That's what the comments are for, tell him he's wrong, or if you agree with him, tell him he's right. Then visit www.thomasgalicia.com and follow him on twitter, @thomasgalicia.