The Dolphins’ Failed Tank

by Matt Rosenthal ’22

While their 2-9 record may not be the worst in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins’ roster on paper is hideous. When a team loses on purpose, it is called tanking. If a team outright says that they are tanking, that is illegal. However, a team can say that they are clearing house and restarting. This is called a rebuild.

The rebuild started during the offseason by firing head coach Adam Gase, who guided the Dolphins to a 2016 wild card birth in his tenure as head coach. After the 2018 season, Gase was let go of and replaced with Patriots linebackers coach and defensive play caller Brian Flores. 

There are two ways to rebuild a team, either through the draft or free agency. The Fins chose the former. Notable trades include offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans for two first-round picks, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first round pick and a few late-round pick swaps, and right before the trade deadline running back Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth round pick. 

There is one more key principal of a rebuild: get the first overall selection in the draft. There is only one way to get the first overall pick: win the fewest games of any team. This pick allows the team who owns it to select any player in the draft. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the top prospect at that position. He will most likely go first overall, to the Cincinnati Bengals who sit at 0-11. 

Miami currently has the third overall pick, which likely lands them Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Only problem is that Tua suffered a season-ending hip injury on a November 16 contest against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. His draft stock to go in a downward spiral and has caused Justin Herbert of the Oregon Ducks to rise up into Miami’s spot. 

 On paper, this seems like an average rebuild. However, this tank job was so obvious that aliens in a parallel galaxy can see it. Miami allowed Ryan Tannehill, the best quarterback they have had since Dan Marino, to leave in free agency to the Tennessee Titans. His replacements are Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Rosen has only appeared in six games for the Dolphins and has only one touchdown to five interceptions. Fitzpatrick has played his usual up and down football, throwing for over 250 yards and three touchdowns one game, then barely over 150 and an interception. 

Not only have the Dolphins been trying to rebuild for the last few seasons, they are not even the owners of the first overall pick. The Bengals are not trying to tank. Cincinnati just keeps on losing. Unless the Bengals, Redskins, and Giants magically win some games, Miami will remain at number three overall and settle with Justin Herbert rather than the possible Heisman Trophy winner, Joe Burrow.