The number of picks and money alone all but assures the team will be better next season. If Ireland uses them wisely and can hit big on several of his decisions, the improvement could be as dramatic as it is sudden.
A dynamic wide receiver, a top cornerback and another sack threat are glaring areas of greatest need.
The last few weeks of this season in effect are an audition for some players, and a time for Ireland to reconnoiter his roster and decide who his keepers are.
Reggie Bush made a loud statement Sunday that he should be one of them.
Bush had a modest 65 yards on 19 carries — rookie Lamar Miller, the ex-Cane, ran better with 73 yards on 10 carries — but Bush reminded us he is a playmaker. The team traded away one of those in Brandon Marshall. Can it afford to let another one slip away in pending free agency?
Bush said it never occurred to him Sunday that the home finale might be his last game before Dolfans.
What he calls “the business side” will come soon enough, but Bush made his case for being a player Miami should want back. Needs back.
His three TDs Sunday came on two splendid receptions sandwiched around a 1-yard run. He turned a swing pass into a 17-yard scoring play with the ball stretched out over the goal line on a horizontal dive. His later 12-yard scoring catch was an over-the-shoulder grab on the edge of the end zone on a Tannehill throw that had to be perfect and was.
“He’s a good guy with the football in his hands,” coach Joe Philbin understated, of Bush.
“Reggie’s a real weapon,” Tannehill said.
Said Bills coach Chan Gailey: “He’s always a factor.”
Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman seems to have had an epiphany and lately realized that Bush is a threat catching passes, too.
Um, why wasn’t that the case all season, Reg?
“I don’t know,” he said, with a slight smile. “You have to ask the offensive coordinator.”
The chance of the playoffs disappeared, the Dolphins will end their season next week at New England.
Then it gets interesting.
Then the offseason starts.
And the opportunity.