If you ask the experts, the Miami Dolphins will be a special sort of bad this season. But if you ask Dolphins fans, many will tell you the team is better off without all the talented players the team jettisoned this off-season.
This is pretty much standard procedure in South Florida, where fans take the team's off-season bait, hook, line, and sinker, every year. The Dolphins are undefeated in May since 1966. Every June, they've got all their troubles figured out. Every July, the coaches blow the football world's socks off with the new and exciting offense they drew up on cocktail napkins in the off-season. Every August, the team is kicking its own ass in practice, which is, oddly, great news.
Then September comes around with real NFL games, and the Dolphins inevitably disappoint everyone. It's a vicious circle every Miami fan under the age of 40 knows too well. Here are just a few of the ways the Dolphins overhype their off-season every year.
1. The Dolphins will be fine at quarterback as long as everyone else is great. Nobody ever dares tell a Dolphins fan the team will be elite under center, but pretty much every off-season, the consensus in Miami is if the rest of the team is amazing, the Dolphins will be fine at quarterback. Just fine. Good enough!
This particular lie predates Ryan Tannehill, though this has never been truer during his wholly average career. The argument began with Jay Fielder, was passed on to Chad Pennington, and remains a narrative in 2018. The Dolphins will be fine at quarterback, unless they aren't. If they aren't, well, the Dolphins will do the exact thing over next year and hope for different results.
2. The Dolphins' offense next season will be fast. Every off-season, the buzzword for the Fins' off-season in the upcoming season is "fast." Then the season hits, and every other play is a bubble-screen to a slot receiver with three seconds left on the play clock. Remember when Bill Lazor was supposed to bring to Miami the innovative off-season he learned under Chip Kelly? That never even came close to happening.
This year, the word on the street is the Dolphins will run a lot more hurry-up offense. We've heard that before. We'll have to see it to believe it.
3. The Dolphins got rid of all the "bad guys" in the offseason. The Dolphins did a bit of house-cleaning this off-season, sending away players they deemed not onboard with their program and bringing in "alpha" players who have a history of playing within an organization's guidelines. That's meant bringing in guys such as ex-Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola and shipping out guys such as Ndamukong Suh. The team will tell you it's about those players' attitudes, but most of the time, it's really about money.
Guys such as Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis needed to go regardless of their on-the-field production. The Dolphins say they value leadership until free agency rolls around and they overpay anyone who will take their money. Miami has seemingly forever been attempting to be the first team in the history of the NFL that wins a title with all "good guys" who are completely indebted to their program. This year, the Dolphins are going into the season much less talented on the field but far less mean off it. It's a bold move they've been perfecting for years.
4. The Dolphins have finally fixed their offensive line issues. Never fails: Every year, the Dolphins play musical chairs with their offensive line, and every off-season, fans are led to believe this season the Fins won't have the glaring issues they have every season. There are always a couple of new guards on their way in (Josh Sitton and past backup Jesse Davis this year), while a couple of linemen are sent out the door (Mike Pouncey and Jermon Bushrod). The Dolphins are always dumping high-end assets into this position yet finding exactly zero answers, while other teams are finding perfectly capable starters in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
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The Dolphins fixed their offensive line this off-season. Again. See you here next year, same time, same place.
5. This is the season before the season that will be the season. The Dolphins are perpetually in Year 2 of a three-year plan. They are always shuffling around players to appease a coach they'll inevitably fire the season after next. Every off-season fans are led to believe (and many continue to take the bait) that the Dolphins are on the way up and that it's only a matter of time before they conquer the almighty New England Patriots.
Then the season hits, and it's the same old thing. This year, the experts aren't high on the Dolphins, but if you listen to local talk radio, there is an entirely different narrative being spun. The Fins should take a step forward to the ten-win season they had in 2016 unless they don't. Who knows? But every off-season, we're led to believe there is more to life than a unicorn ten-win season some other franchises happen upon in their sleep. For Dolphins fans, it's the carrot the team is constantly chasing.