Suck for Luck: Why the Miami Dolphins Are Still in Race After Their Week 9 Win
The Miami Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-3, on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, and there are many Dolphins fans upset at the outcome and panicking because of the chance that the team might lose out on the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
This is new for me.
No, not writing the "don't panic, stay off the ledge" article. If you've read my work on the Miami Heat (please come back NBA, I like writing about the Heat but can't with this lockout), then you know that I've written quite a few pieces urging for Heat fans (mainly myself) to relax and step off the ledge and not panic after a Heat loss.
This, of course, comes from the fact that every Heat loss, even in the regular season, came with speculation that the sky was falling.
OK, so Miami lost the series, but that's not the point. The point is, I can write articles to talk people off of the ledge.
And I'll do just that right now because the Miami Dolphins are still in the thick of things in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
For the Other Teams, the Schedule Gets Easier
First, let's take a look at each Suck For Luck candidate.
Three wins is the cutoff line; once you pass three, you're no longer in the Suck For Luck club, which consists of:
Indianapolis Colts (0-9)
St. Louis Rams (1-7)
Miami Dolphins (1-7)
Arizona Cardinals (2-6)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
Minnesota Vikings (2-6)
Carolina Panthers (2-6)
Seattle Seahawks (2-6)
Let's take Miami, Minnesota and Carolina, since all of those teams are in divisions where the other three teams are fighting for playoff berths. Plus with Minnesota and Carolina, they have their quarterbacks of the future already in place.
As for the NFC West teams: they still have to play each other, and in the case of St. Louis and Seattle, they have to play each other twice. Plus, St. Louis already has Sam Bradford while Arizona has a lot of money wrapped up into Kevin Kolb (which means they'll at least give him one more year), so that takes care of the NFC West teams.
Starting with the Colts and Jaguars: they have to play each other twice. The first matchup is this week in Indianapolis. Blaine Gabbert has looked worse each week, and I don't see that changing (that's why I still included them).
Indianapolis picks up their first victory of the season this Sunday. But the Colts and Jags have one more game against each other after this Sunday's showdown. Let's assume that they split and that Jacksonville doesn't win another game. That leaves them at 3-13.
Indianapolis also has a game against the Panthers. That's a winnable game for the Colts as the Panthers have shown that they can put up offensive stats, but can't stop anyone on defense. So far as great as Cam Newton has been, he hasn't shown that he knows how to win.
On top of that, the game is in Indianapolis. That's two wins for the Colts, possibly three.
Then there's another home game left against Tennessee. Call me crazy, but that game is winnable.
At worst, I could see the Colts finishing 3-13.
Let's face it, nobody expected the Colts to beat the Falcons (and if you did, get treatment for whatever physical addiction or mental malady that might plague you), while a lot of people expected the Dolphins to possibly beat Kansas City (however I would've thought you were crazy if you told me that Miami would win by scoring four touchdowns and only one field goal).
But it's just one week, one victory (for Miami) and one loss (for Indianapolis). It isn't the end of the road, and there's still eight games left (seven for the Colts). And based off of analyzing both the Dolphins and Colts, the Colts have the easier schedule, especially compared to Miami's schedule.
Which as you will see, isn't exactly a picnic.
Miami's Schedule Is the Toughest of All the Contenders
Beating the Kansas City Chiefs wasn't exactly the shocker of the century.
Many analysts pointed out how well the two teams match up as well as how evenly matched the two teams really were. This was both before the Chiefs' 4-0 run when they looked like the worst team in the NFL as well as after when they looked like playoff contenders.
It won't shock anyone if the Dolphins manage to defeat the Washington Redskins next week either. Washington is a lot like Miami with their issues at quarterback; however they started off hot, and are only now returning to earth.
But after these two games let's assume Miami is 2-7. Even then, they will still be in the "Suck For Luck" sweepstakes.
We already discussed the Colts' upcoming schedule along with that of some of the other "Suck For Luck" contestants; now here's Miami's schedule.
We already discussed Washington. For the sake of argument, let's say they win this week (they will).
Miami will then be 2-7 heading into a game against the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo has always played Miami tough even when the Dolphins were the contenders and the Bills were terrible. There's no reason to think that the two teams will continue to play tough against each other. With that being said, Buffalo is still the better team.
So that will be 2-8.
Buffalo of course is followed by the Dallas Cowboys on short rest (Thanksgiving). I just can't see the Dolphins winning that game.
Then here comes Oakland, who's way too inconsistent. Let's call this a Dolphins win, but I'll probably change my mind about this at least three or four times while writing this piece.
Now is the point where you think that Miami's chances of getting Luck are done, correct?
Um, no. There's still four more games left.
They'll host the Eagles, which I know I said in an earlier piece they'd win, but looking at the Eagles now, I'll say no, Philadelphia will come out with a victory. That's 3-10, followed by a trip up to Buffalo (3-11), a trip to New England (3-12) and, to round out the season, the New York Jets, who will likely be fighting for either the AFC East crown or at least a wild card berth.
As nice as it would be for the Dolphins to deprive the Jets of this (they will try and likely play their second-best game of the season), Miami won't win this game.
So that's 3-13 to end the season. I already told you about the Colts schedule, which looks like they could go 3-13 or 4-12. At worst, Miami will be 1-15. I don't see that, so I'll say at worst Miami will be 2-14 because I've already changed my mind about the Raiders game.
If Indianapolis finishes 3-13 or 4-12 and Miami finishes 2-14, then they will have the No. 1 pick.
But, that might not be the Dolphins' only way to Luck. You do know that you are allowed to trade draft picks, right?
Miami Has Both Pieces and Draft Picks That Can Be Dealt (Not Brandon Marshall)
Miami radio personality Jonathan Zaslow of WAXY 790 The Ticket doesn't believe that the Colts will pick Andrew Luck.
I can't find on the 790theticket.com website when he said that, but I just remember hearing it while driving last week.
Zaslow said that of course the Colts were going to say "We will take Andrew Luck" with the No. 1 pick. It drives up the price for said draft pick.
Common sense will also tell you that the Colts have a litany of problems; it's not just the quarterback. I'm not saying that Curtis Painter is the future and just needs a team, but what I am saying is that Peyton Manning will be back for at least two or three more seasons after this one, and he's not going to want to be part of a rebuilding team.
On top of that, Indianapolis would be crazy to trade Peyton Manning if he's proven to be healthy. If he's not healthy, no team will trade for him. They'd get more value from that No. 1 pick.
Of course, I'll leave Oakland out. Not because they're not interested, but because they don't have anything to offer.
But Miami does. I'm not quite sure if this will be enough, but Vontae Davis, Paul Soliai, the Dolphins' first-rounders in 2012 and 2013, and their second-rounder in 2012 might be enough to take the Andrew Luck pick from the Colts.
And believe it or not, I don't think that's too much, especially considering that they have more assets that can be used to acquire more draft picks.
The Colts do not need a quarterback; they need pieces to go around their future Hall of
Fame quarterback for the last two years of his career, then surround a QB that they could likely take in the later rounds (Boise State's Kellen Moore).
But here's the funny part, even if the Dolphins lose out on Luck, they'll still be in very good shape.
Why though? How?
Great Quarterbacks Are a Mix of Talent and Great Coaching
Tony Sparano isn't going to be here next season.
It's an open secret that everyone knows. Even Sparano knows it. Do you really think him putting his house for sale while the real estate market in South Florida is just because he and his wife are empty nesters?
No, it's because he knows he's as good as gone.
So is Jeff Ireland.
Sadly Stephen Ross will still be here. However, Ross will likely want a more offensive-minded head coach. He likes explosive offenses as much as the next Dolphins fan; growing up watching Dan Marino does that to you.
Odds are the next coach (or offensive coordinator) of the Miami Dolphins will be someone who specializes in working with quarterbacks (Joe Philbin or Mike Shula come to mind as either a head coach or offensive coordinator). It will be someone with a proven track record of getting the most out of a quarterback's abilities.
This brings us to another reason why even if the Dolphins don't get the No. 1 pick and don't trade for it, all is not lost.
2012 Is Going to Be a Great Draft for Quarterbacks
So the Dolphins don't get Andrew Luck. What do they do?
We already discussed them possibly trading for him. But there might be a better idea.
They could take Landry Jones and still have enough picks to build a team around him. Jones is great in the pocket.
Matt Barkley needs some seasoning, and yes, USC quarterbacks have been terrible as of late (Mark Sanchez right now is the best QB to come out of USC). But Barkley also looks like he has the talent as well as the brain to become a great NFL quarterback.
Then there's Robert Griffin III, who will likely go anywhere between picks No. 6 and 10.
That would be fantastic for the Dolphins. No, not reaching for Griffin at the No. 2 or 3 draft pick, but trading down for Griffin and acquiring an additional second-rounder this year and maybe even a first-rounder next year.
Last week I suggested that as a good idea. I still think it would work for the Dolphins.
I know I said five reasons why the Dolphins are still contenders for "Suck For Luck", but at the same time I also feel that as long as the 'Phins make the right front office and coaching decisions, they could still succeed even without Andrew Luck.
Like I said in the last slide, great quarterbacks are a mixture of talent and great coaching. Luck comes ready-made for the pros straight out of the box.
But he's not the be all end all of the 2012 draft. He's the best of the bunch, but the best in a bunch where the differences between the four at the top are they go from Aaron Rodgers (Luck) to Eli Manning (Jones) to Phillip Rivers (Barkley) to Michael Vick with better field awareness and a better arm (RG3).
Either way, the Dolphins can't go wrong.
Unless they draft a lineman of course.