I’d like to trust Miami Dolphins’ plan, front office – but here’s why I can’t

Mike Tannenbaum, Stephen Ross, Ndamukong Suh, Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey when Suh joined the Dolphins.

Mike Tannenbaum was talking about the long-range vision subscribed to in the Dolphins’ front office. In doing so, he threw out terms like “macroeconomic modeling” the decision-makers were piecing together. He talked about how cap management is an “allocation of resources.”

“To have sustainable success in a cap system, you’re going to have to hit on your draft choices,” he said. “We want to retain as many of those as reasonably possible. With that said, over time, some of those players are going to graduate, which, if and when they do, you want to celebrate it. That means they’ve been drafted well, they’ve been coached well, they’ve been developed well.”

Do three years provide enough of a scorecard to judge all the wellness Tannenbaum was espousing? Because today is almost the three-year anniversary of when he said that quote — March 11, 2015, at the announcement of the signing of free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Tannenbaum, the executive vice president of football operations, knew the Dolphins were dumping a huge percentage of their eggs in Suh’s basket. He knew that for the Dolphins to perform, uh, well, with Suh, not only would Suh have to perform up to the standards he set in Detroit, but the front office would have to have as many hits as Suh did.

There cannot be a need to make a case for the many ways virtually none of this panned out. A couple of 6-10 seasons sandwiched around one 10-6 scream failure. And there’s the fact that the Dolphins ended up writing checks for nearly half of the record $114 million contract they handed Suh before their divorce.

As outlined in this space earlier, there’s also the trickle-down cap hit Tannenbaum warned about that helped Jarvis Landry “graduate” to Cleveland — unless, of course, it was equal parts of this narrative to “change the culture” we’re being fed now, too.

All this would be infinitely easier to swallow if this front office had earned the kind of credit in PR terms that it never had much use for in a salary-cap sense. If you’re willing to credit Tannenbaum for getting two low picks and cap relief for trading Landry to the Browns, you also have to hold him accountable for creating the need for that cap relief in the first place.

So do you trust this front office?

Are you comfortable with its plan, whatever it may be?

Tannenbaum himself said the Dolphins had to hit on their draft picks. Let’s start with 2012, admittedly pre-Tannenbaum, because that’s when they drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill:

2012-14

Total Dolphins picks: 24

Still on team: Only Tannehill, DE Terrence Fede and possibly DB Walt Aikens, a free agent, and T Ja’Wuan James

2015

Dolphins picks: 6

Still on team: 4 (WR DeVante Parker, DT Jordan Phillips, CB Bobby McCain, CB Tony Lippett)

2016

Dolphins picks: 8

Still on team: 7 (T Laremy Tunsil, CB Xavien Howard, RB Kenyan Drake, WR Leonte Carroo, WR Jakeem Grant, CB Jordan Lucas, TE Thomas Duarte). QB Brandon Doughty is on practice squad

2017

Dolphins picks: 6

Still on team: 5 (DE Charles Harris, LB Raekwon McMillan, CB Cordrea Tankersley, G Isaac Asiata, DT Davon Godchaux, DT Vincent Taylor

OK, so not every pick is going to pan out. What about the players who do excel? They don’t for long. Not in Miami. Last season, Suh was the Dolphins’ MVP, which stands for Most Volatile Perch. It’s the kiss of death. You win MVP, you may as well turn in your playbook.

Just look at this head-scratching list:

2008 Dolphins MVP: QB Chad Pennington (played only four games with Miami after winning) and LB Joey Porter (lasted one more season)

2009: RB Ricky Williams (lasted one more season)

2010: 7-9. None chosen

2011: QB Matt Moore (last season likely his final one with Dolphins)

2012: DE Cameron Wake (still around)

2013: CB Brent Grimes (he and his wife left South Florida after two additional seasons)

2014: Tannehill

2015: S Reshad Jones (still around), Landry (lasted two more seasons)

2016: RB Jay Ajayi (lasted only seven more games)

2017: Suh (gone faster than you could pronounce his full name)

Getting back to the culture business, which we’d been led to believe was well on its way toward a solution, the current purge raises a question of leadership in the locker room. The only players still on the roster who have been honored with the Dolphins’ annual leadership award are center Mike Pouncey and Wake, and only Tannenbaum seems to know how safe those two are.

Assuming Tannehill reclaims the starting job, he’ll be a team leader. Receiver Kenny Stills will be another. Jones, a model of sustained excellence, seems more the type of when he does speak, others will listen. And on special teams, should he re-sign as a free agent, there’s Michael Thomas.

On a 53-man roster, even including the maybes, that’s a mighty short list.

All is not lost. Tannenbaum is correct when he points out how frequently the NFL playoff bracket gets flipped. He has pointed out on multiple occasions how five of the six teams to make the playoffs in the NFC were newbies in 2017.

If it’s so easy, then, why have the Dolphins made it only once since 2008?

[Dolphins releasing LB Lawrence Timmons]

[Top 10 Miami Dolphins Offseason Priorities]

[Possible replacements for Jarvis Landry in free agency, NFL Draft]

[What Jarvis Landry said after being traded to Cleveland]

[Miami Dolphins master the art of wasting their best draft picks]

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