There are few rushes in life greater than consuming a few rum and cokes and watching your team win a title. Fortunately, I have seen the Heat, 'Canes, Marlins, and Panthers make runs for the title, most of them successful. Even though I personally know Mike and his father Dan Marino, most of what I saw live was in the twilight of his career, as I am aged 22. From his home, I saw plays he made while I was in kindergarten that showed me just how incredible it is to have a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback, and how hard it is to replace the efficacy, cannon-like arm, and tiger-like reflexes that can carry a team to glory on his back alone.
We all see how poor the Colts are when their stalwart in Peyton Manning is replaced by the likes of Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter. Dreadful defensive backs coupled with a stifled rushing attack and aging offensive lineman take the Colts from contenders with Manning to a team that might lose to this years LSU team. Somehow, there are teams that fail to replace their superstars, such as the 49ers drafting Alex Smith, to replace Steve Young, while far after, the Packers picked up Aaron Rodgers, now one of the premier passers in the league.
We see instant brilliance in the selection of Rodgers, Ryan Mallett looking like the heir apparent in New England, and so many other long term solutions across the NFL. What so many fans fail to realize or just fail to recognize are the sheer quantification of the Dolphins failures at quarterback. Starting with the retirement of the decent, but average Jay Fiedler, the 'Fins risked a knee injury over shoulder to pick up Daunte Culpepper instead of Drew Brees. This egregious decision led to a blown knee and horrific animosity over a quarterback that led the Saints to absolute glory in the wake of a monumental disaster.
This is only one of the first front office disasters, a microcosm of the coaching, play-calling, drafting, and talent evaluating issues that would plague the Dolphins from the retirement of our great Marino, manifesting itself in great proportion today. It seems as if the 'Fins drafting is as conservative as their play-calling, never afraid to spend a 2nd or 3rd round pick on an average quarterback; always drafting somewhere else in the first round.
To state a bit about myself, I am possibly the biggest pessimist in the world, but at the same crossroads the biggest optimist when it comes to sports. I thought the Dolphins could be at least a 9-7 team this year, with a few notable upsets, but now I find this team to be one of the worst in NFL history, not just right now. The amount of star power on this team, coupled with their exorbitant payroll, is not translating to wins. What about the defense that every columnist on this team stream (myself included) thought could be the best in the league? Sure, we have faced some hard offenses to stop, but even being scorched by sure Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady's career high made our team (specifically our secondary) look like an 1A prep school, instead of professionals paid millions to play sports. This all boils down to the evolution of the professional game as a pass first orient, and the 'Fins cannot keep pace with the modernity of football.
Jake Long was a brilliant draft pick. He could go down as the greatest offensive lineman of all time. Mike Pouncey, another sound pick, is early on solidifying himself as a reputable center. But who are they blocking for? Daniel Thomas has promise. Reggie Bush had a good game against the Chargers early, until Brian Daboll went back to Bush hitting the A gap. But how to address the quarterback position?
It is not as if the Dolphins have busted in every draft. Ted Ginn Jr. was truly the only dreadful pick during the Parcells-Ireland era, despite Pat White now playing baseball. It is not hard to be elite when you can run a 4.2-something in the Big-10, a league known for its offensive lineman, and tortoise like skill players, a machination exposed when the equally maligned Ohio State faced the dreadful Hurricanes, and to my delight the cheating OSU ate their dust.
By now many of you may have looked elsewhere, for a simplistic two paragraph slideshow. I do not blame you, as this is quite the long winded column. So many more thoughts I bear, but I wish to spare the reader from additional minutes shared in my pessimistic shadow. I cannot blame you all though, if you dream of a 1-15 season and the top draft pick. Knowing our luck, the Chiefs will tie us, and win the toss for the top pick.
I'll see you all at the drug store, buying ice packs for my fists, band-aids for my wall, and some baby aspirin. Until then,