The names the Miami Dolphins added in the draft this weekend start to blur after a while because general manager Jeff Ireland did a fine job of gathering a lot of picks for this draft and then filled his needs as well as desires over three exhilarating days.
Ireland isn’t done.
The roster will be tweaked in the coming weeks, he promises. He says he’s got some irons in the fire to solve the left tackle position that continues to feel unsolved. He says the back end of unrestricted free agency will be a field he can still explore.
But his toughest work is probably done now.
The responsibility for making the Dolphins at least relevant and perhaps a winner in 2013 now falls to other people. And as an NFL team’s success is decided primarily by three people — the general manager, the coach and the quarterback — it shouldn’t surprise that the spotlight that has been trained on Ireland this offseason now shines on two other men:
Tannehill is the Dolphins’ quarterback. He is the man this team had not one thought about replacing this offseason. That’s a milestone, because the last time the Dolphins spent an offseason without even thinking of replacing the starting quarterback was in the late 1990s before Dan Marino began to decline.
Tannehill is the man for the Dolphins. If he plays well in 2013, the roster moves this offseason will be worthwhile and make sense somehow. But if he plays poorly, there are no roster moves significant enough to save this franchise.
It’s not all on Tannehill. But it’s primarily on Tannehill.
“It’s a quarterback league,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Saturday as he waited for the draft’s final round to kick off. “We know that.”
The Dolphins are optimistic and, indeed, confident Tannehill is on the cusp of being a good quarterback. Philbin has said so. Ireland has said so.
And Ross believes so as well.
“We think he’s going to be better,” Ross said. “You want me to predict a Super Bowl because we think he’s going to be great. I’m not going to do that. But I do want to win a Super Bowl. That’s what you always shoot for. Everyone wants to. And you need a good quarterback to do that.
“We think he’s going to be a good quarterback.”
Time will decide that. In the interim, the Dolphins need great work from Philbin.
The coach’s job is to develop the players Ireland just gifted him. He’s said on more than one occasion recently that he needs to get his hands on these players. One supposes it’s so he can mold them to fit his vision of this team.
Well, Philbin has much work and much developing of players to do. He’s going to have a team with at least nine new starters, and possibly more, on offense and defense.
The Dolphins, among the youngest NFL teams before the draft, just got younger. Now, Philbin has less than six months to get them ready for early season games against veteran teams such New Orleans, Atlanta and, yes, the Super Bowl champion Ravens.
“Transition is a thing that all 32 teams deal with some more than others, some years more than others,” Philbin said. “We’re excited about coaching these guys. Life in the NFL is transition. We have to do a great job of getting them up to speed both from a schematic standpoint and the way we do here in Miami.”