The Dolphins have added a dynamic and proven playmaking wide receiver in the offseason. They’ve made the defense more physical by adding a playmaking linebacker to patrol the middle of the unit. And, most inspiring, the Dolphins have a young quarterback coming off a solid first season as the starter and the club believes he’ll show great improvement as he becomes the face of the team for years to come.
That’s the state of the Dolphins in 2013, right?
But that was exactly the state of the Dolphins three years ago.
Think back to 2010 if you can bear it.
Back then, the Dolphins added Brandon Marshall to make plays at wide receiver in much the way the club has excitedly added Mike Wallace this offseason.
The Dolphins added Karlos Dansby to make plays and be a physical presence in the middle of the defense then. And similar things are now being said about this year’s additions of Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.
And yes, back in the spring of 2010, Chad Henne was about to enter his second season as Miami’s starting quarterback and everyone who heard the club compare him favorably with Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan was expecting Henne to actually succeed like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan.
Now the same is being said, eerily, about Ryan Tannehill.
We’ve been down this road before. The Dolphins are retracing familiar steps this offseason and although that doesn’t guarantee the club will get it wrong again, it does explain some things and raise valid questions.
First, I was told last week the team has gotten less of an initial season-ticket sales bump this year than in that fateful 2010 offseason.
The truth is that although new customers are signing up at a solid rate, the club’s ability to retain old season-ticket customers is way, way down.
And the club is not really certain why that’s the case because, internally, the organization’s mood is upbeat and optimistic and expectant from owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland over to coach Joe Philbin and even team CEO Mike Dee.
The brass is excited. Players are excited. Everyone but paying fans, it seems, is excited.
Well, can I suggest the reason some of those fans aren’t jumping on the ticket-renewal bandwagon is because they’ve been here and done that before?
They’ve seen all these moves called from the exact same playbook before, and although they spent a lot of money to endorse the moves the first time, they clearly remember that led to nothing other than frustrating afternoons at Sun Life Stadium.
I’ll remind you that the same 2010 Dolphins that added the playmaking wide receiver and playmaking linebacker and had the promising young quarterback won only one home game in eight outings.
Fans are not dumb people. They have memories. They understand nothing the Dolphins have done so far this spring guarantees a winning football team in the fall despite the unapologetic optimism the team is exuding and the polite pressure the ticket-sales people are applying.
So when Philbin says, “I want our fans to expect this to be a good football team,” he’s preaching to people who got burned the last time they did that.
Those fans, particularly the ones who buy tickets, are more likely to believe the team’s move will work, predictably, when they see the team’s moves work.