The Miami Dolphins were one of the most disappointing teams in the league last season.
After unexpectedly charging out of the gates and assembling a 3-0 record, the Dolphins face-planted at Foxborough last season to the tune of a 38-7 score. From there, they went just 4-8 down the stretch. Still, a 7-9 record was good enough to earn the Dolphins second-place in the division – but that’s less a point of pride for Miami, and more a knock on how weak the AFC East was last year.
Head coach Adam Gase was fired on New Year’s Eve, but he didn’t stay out of work long, getting hired as the new head coach of the New York Jets just 11 days later. Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores was rumored to be the leading candidate for the Miami coaching vacancy, and as soon as the confetti finished falling in Atlanta, the move became official.
To say that Flores has his work cut out for him in Florida is like saying Santa Claus has his work cut out for him on Christmas Eve. The team just exiled longtime quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee, and has also seen franchise cornerstones like Cam Wake and Josh Sitton depart in free agency.
Left behind in the “wake” (get it?) are a bunch of castoffs from other, more successful teams. New England’s own Dwayne Allen signed a two-year deal worth $7 million, which sounds exorbitantly generous when you consider how little he’s produced in two seasons with the Pats. Miami must be hoping that Allen can finally hit his stride now that he’s out of Coby Fleener’s shadow in Indianapolis and Rob Gronkowski’s in New England.
Flores will also reunite with cornerback Eric Rowe, another former Patriot. Rowe’s one-year deal at $3.5 million also seems a bit inflated considering the veteran was inactive for much of 2018 after he was benched in favor of Jason McCourty.
Of course, the prize signing for the Dolphins is journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, he of “Fitzmagic” fame from last fall. This will be the Harvard graduate’s eighth NFL team in 14 seasons as a professional football player. His early-season success with the Buccaneers last year was deservedly a feel-good story and a highlight of the fledgling 2018 season, but it all came crashing to a halt when the magic ran out in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears.
Fitzpatrick was eventually replaced by Jameis Winston, and the Bucs didn’t think enough of The Bearded One to keep him around in 2019. What GM Chris Grier thinks Fitzpatrick can accomplish in Miami is anyone’s guess, but it’d be a shocker if the Dolphins finished any higher than fourth in the AFC East this year.