There are probably dozens of schemes for rebuilding a football team. One way is to keep your better younger players while retooling the weaker positions with trades and draft choices until each unit consists of players with talent and futures. Another method is to jettison most of your good players and in return receive an abundance of draft picks to use the next two or three years in acquiring players. This works too, but it necessitates being able to draft players who can become stars or at least who are solid, dependable contributors.
The Dolphins have chosen the second path and will have to prove that they can draft or trade for enough talent to bring the team back to respectability. Their track record in this department is not stellar. They have also dug their talent hole deeper than usual by permitting the impression to be developed during the pre-season that the team would be decent, if not great this season. Then they waited too long, in my opinion, to dump the remaining talent until a couple of weeks before the season began, which left players playing with others who didn’t have a clue about the team’s systems and plays.
The Dolphins also named journeyman quarterback Fitzpatrick the starter, probably because they didn’t want Josh Rosen to get killed behind a ragtag offensive line. At this writing, the result has been embarrassing losses, and the likelihood of more to come.
It’s hard to inspire players to be winners and to have a winning attitude in this kind of environment. When you have it, that attitude inspires “winners” to perform, while losers drop passes in the open field. It takes more than talent to win in the pros; it takes having confidence that your coaches and fellow team members have the ability to get the job done. Otherwise, the locker room becomes negative and the team is essentially done for the short-term.
Why would players want to be traded in this environment rather than play out the string in the hopes that things will improve? The answer is that there is little recognition given to even the better players on a bad team and, when a player doesn’t get noticed or mentioned in the press, it is difficult to command a better salary and more lucrative incentives from your present or any other team. So, the better decision is to get out while you can.
Having adopted this approach, the Dolphins could well be looking two to four years down the road before fans will want to spend their Sundays at the Hard Rock or view the games on TV. Even when they improve, it will take time to change the habits of the fans to return to their seats and TV sets to cheer on their favorite team.