Should the Miami Dolphins lengthen their “General Manager” title to “General Manage For Life?” Does Chris Grier sit in that chair like a Supreme Court justice or is he simply invisible, like some David Copperfield magic act?
Nobody holds Grier accountable for the wrong-way decisions and failed, five-year rebuild of this team. Ever.
Nobody understands why this Dolphins roster assembled with historic pain and sacrifice can’t beat good teams. Still.
Nobody notices the window is closing on the Dolphins and, if proper measures aren’t taken, the Dark Ages will descend on everyone. Again.
And, in saying nobody notices, I mean: team owner Steve Ross, who believed this tank-to-the-top plan of team president Tom Garfinkel, who entrusted the heavy lifting to Grier, who was either headed to the Hall of Fame with all the resources given him or to the trash chute if it failed.
Oddly, it’s neither. Oddly, it’s just business as usual this Dolphins offseason. They’ve casually brushed any accountability under the rug and are done with it. The five-year plan simply adjusts to a six-year plan.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa gets some public heat, but Grier says the plan is to, “have him long term playing at a high level.” He picked Tagovailoa. He can’t come out now and say, “I’m not sure about Tua,” without the spotlight swinging to him.
As for this five-year plan that’s produced no playoff wins, Grier was asked Monday if it’s a success.
“It’s a little mixed, and I only mean that because this is now year two with (coach Mike McDaniel) here,’’ he said. “We won nine games a year ago, 11 this year. We’ve taken steps. I think we have a good roster.
“Whether success, failure, I leave that for you guys to judge. But I think we’re building something good that we feel good about, and we’re looking forward to continuing that in the offseason towards next year.”
Why is it left to “you guys to judge?” Leave it to the scoreboard. Isn’t that the judge at the end of seasons?
And if Grier wants to re-start the clock in 2022 with his partnership with McDaniel, let’s carry that to its full idea. McDaniel is 20-16, including the postseason, with no playoff wins and a completed roster. Brian Flores was run out of this organization for going 19-14 his final two years with half this talent.
So, it’s been five years of sacrifice and pain for a nothing burger. And no one making decisions has been held accountable for anything other than Flores.
Grier fired all his bullets to make this past year great, too. That’s why the Dolphins were the oldest team in the playoffs (even before signing geezers the final week to help the defense). It’s why they’re $40 million over the salary cap.
It’s also why the Dolphins enter April’s draft with the least draft capital over a three-year run of any team in history (they don’t have third- and fourth-round picks this year). That tells how much the Dolphins poured into this season. If you win the Super Bowl, as the Los Angeles Rams did in creating this model, all is well.
But if you don’t win a playoff game? If you’re 1-6 against playoff teams? If your aging roster loses its final three games against good teams?
Sure, injuries were a problem on defense. Some of that was bad luck. Some was because of older players having a lot of wear and tear on their bodies.
Now the Dolphins have hard decisions that can be solved by trading draft picks or spending money. Take Tagovailoa’s cap number of $23.2 million. It can be shifted lower with a new contract. But how much do you invest in a quarterback who has shown physical limitations against good teams? Do you think of the franchise’s future in making that decision?
There are a handful of other players to re-negotiate contracts or just release to save cap money. Tyreek Hill, for instance, is on the books for $31 million next year. That will get re-done, he’ll make more money and his cap number will get lowered. Easy stuff.
Then there’s cornerback Xavien Howard. He’s scheduled for $25 million. He’s 31 next year and didn’t finish the season due to a foot injury. Will he take less money?
“Would you take less money if your boss asked you?” Howard asked.
The typical way to move on from such expensive veterans is with young players. The Dolphins, as the past two drafts have shown, don’t have many young players. Maybe, to finish this cornerback idea, second-round rookie Cam Smith finds his way in Year 2, as often happens. Do you bank on that?
Bottom-line: The bill is starting to come due for this massive rebuild that’s delivered nothing.
Ross moved on from Bill Parcells and fired Jeff Ireland, Dennis Hickey and Mike Tannenbaum in Grier’s role. Maybe he’s just tired of firing people. Maybe he’s given up trying to answer questions that have eluded him for so long.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result,” Ross said in announcing this rebuild under Grier in 2019.
Fast-forward to the 2024 offseason:
“We’re just going to keep grinding, chopping wood,’’ Grier said. “We have a good roster.”
Year 5 of this plan moves to Year 6. Or maybe it’s Year 3 since McDaniel came aboard. When there’s no accountability, when you’re General Manager For Life, what does time matter?