DAVIE — The three men steering the Miami Dolphins agreed on one basic premise Wednesday: that the season just ended and a lot of reflection and evaluation is necessary before a new one begins.
It’s tough to argue with Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase on that one. When you’re in the process of winning just six games, answers don’t come easily. If they did, you wouldn’t be winning just six games.
And, to their credit, there was acknowledgement of the obvious disappointment everybody feels today. As Grier, the general manager, said, “We’re 6-10. We’ve got to get better. It’s not acceptable. We’re all ultra-competitive up here.”
Grier went off the rails at that point, saying Gase would “kill his own dog” to go to a Super Bowl. Luckily, two things immediately occurred: First, Grier sheepishly admitted he could have come up with a better analogy. Second, Gase disclosed he does not have a dog (adding, by the way, that it’s not because he finds canines incompatible with Super Bowls).
So there was a chuckle. There was a sprinkling of news (Ryan Tannehill will be the starter next season). There was frustration with a lack of poise and leadership shown by the players.
But something was missing — something that breeds confidence that those inside the building will take as critical a look at this situation as those of us outside it.
“We’re going to have to tweak some things, but overall, I believe in where we’re going.”
Tannenbaum, executive vice president of football operations, said that, and if you need to draw a map in your head of where the Dolphins are going, Point A is a 10-6 team that made the playoffs last year. Point B is a 6-10 team that will draft 11th this year. The Mapquest term for this is south.
Later, Tannenbaum said, “In a perfect world, we want to keep as many of our own guys as possible and we’re going to look at that.”
That’s great when you’re talking about locking up a Kenny Stills or a Reshad Jones to long-term deals, as the Dolphins have, but not so great when you’re 25th in the league in offense or have millions invested in a defensive line that’s 25th in sacks. Pressed on why he’d put such on emphasis on keeping a six-win team intact, Tannenbaum curiously brought up the late-season signing of tight end A.J. Derby as a player who “may contribute for us for another year or two.”
He said the sustainable approach is “to have an identity here, and it’s meaningful to be a Dolphin and if you do the right things, play well, do the right things off the field, you’re going to get rewarded.”
Putting the finale against the Bills aside, you could say receiver Jarvis Landry fits that profile quite well. Most would agree he comes closest to being the heart and soul of this team. As we all know, he’s about to become an unrestricted free agent unless a deal gets done by mid-March. Even here, things get murky. Asked how high on the priority list re-signing Landry is, Grier waffled.
“As Adam said, we’ve really just started the evaluation of our team,” Grier said. “ … Jarvis is one of many players that we’ll be talking about over the next couple of weeks.”
Landry isn’t going anywhere — not without a fight that would make the fracas with the Bills look like “Dancing With the Stars.” And maybe that’s as far as Grier felt he could go. Coming on too strong could hurt the organization’s bargaining position. Fine.
But “Jarvis is one of many players”? Wasn’t there only one who led the league in receptions? Don’t we know all we need to know about Landry?
Gase, Tannenbaum and Grier should meticulously evaluate all aspects of the roster, but some truths are self-evident now.
I know, for example, that this team needs help at linebacker, and more of it than Raekwon McMillan could possibly provide.
I know that if this defense can’t cover tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will keep smiling.
I know we’ve had three years to answer the question of whether DeVante Parker is a No. 1 receiver. And I know we’re not one iota closer to confirming he is than we were the day he was drafted. And I know that’s a problem.
I know that the last time this team had an offensive line that inspired confidence, Richmond Webb and Keith Sims owned the left side of the line.
I know I cannot name many positions where there isn’t a great need.
In short, I don’t like where the Dolphins are going.
And I bet that when the Dolphins finish their evaluating process, they won’t, either.
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