There is only one hope for the Miami Dolphins after this misbegotten 50th anniversary season.
The team already knows it will be searching for a head coach once the last game is played, and that man will try to fill his staff with smart, capable, experienced people. The team already knows it must restock a roster that is apparently plagued by holes even smart, capable, experienced people would struggle to fill in one offseason.
And the team believes the greatest areas of need on that flawed roster are at defensive end, middle linebacker and cornerback.
That’s not my opinion. That’s what the Dolphins believe.
(No one, by the way, is dismissing the idea of drafting a quarterback, either, but Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, whom the Dolphins love, likely will be gone well before Miami picks.)
In all, those are a lot of direction-defining decisions the Dolphins are about to make in the coming months. Indeed, the Dolphins are about to shape the next three to five years in the span of 120 days.
And the only way this is going to end well?
The Dolphins must be struck by a bolt of luck — good luck, to be specific.
That’s the only thing that can save these Dolphins.
And this is where the highbrow reader signs off, leaving the next few paragraphs of evidence to those of us who live in the real world.
This is real: The thing that binds so many Dolphins fans to their team today is not the past 15 years of mostly disappointment. It is not the lack of playoff appearances or the repeated selection of the wrong coaches and quarterbacks.
The thing that makes many Dolphins fans Dolphins fans is Dan Marino and his exploits over 17 seasons.
And you know how the Dolphins got Marino?
He came on the 27th overall selection of the 1983 NFL Draft despite being perhaps the second-best prospect, after John Elway, in that draft.
It was lucky he lasted that long. It was lucky his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, who knew Marino best, shied away.
It was sheer, unadulterated good luck Marino came to the Dolphins.
Following Marino’s departure, the last time the Dolphins had a season of hope and promise was 2008, when they rose above the muck of mediocrity to win the AFC East.
It happened by sheer luck.
Chad Pennington fell into the Dolphins’ arms in late August based on nothing expert done by anyone in the organization, and he played nearly perfectly the entire season. And this happened in a year Tom Brady shredded his knee in the season opener in New England.
And it happened in a season the Dolphins stumbled upon a dormant single-wing offense that hadn’t worked for decades prior and hasn’t worked since.
So for one fateful season, the Dolphins’ fortunes rose while New England’s dropped.
Speaking of New England, you know why the Patriots are the masters of the NFL the past 15 years? Is it Bill Belichick’s great drafting? Is it owner Robert Kraft’s great business acumen?
It is because with the 199th pick of the 2000 draft the Patriots stumbled across Brady and he was there to come off the bench and pick up the pieces when Drew Bledsoe was injured in 2001.
Luck is a factor. It matters.
The New Orleans Saints were not the first choice of free agent quarterback Drew Brees in the spring of 2006. He initially preferred the Dolphins over the Saints. But then the Dolphins put him off with a battery of tests and questions about his shoulder, and then insulted him with a cautious contract offer.
And the Saints, needing to jolt a town still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, showed Brees nothing but love. Brees went to his second choice. And his second choice went on to win a Super Bowl while the Dolphins continued to be the Dolphins.
The Saints got lucky.
Are the Green Bay Packers really good because they had an ingenious plan to select Aaron Rodgers with the 24th pick of the 2005 draft, doing so hours after the Dolphins picked Ronnie Brown, the Bears picked Cedric Benson, the Buccaneers picked Cadillac Williams and the Vikings picked Troy Williams?
Is that how they masterfully outlined their succession from Brett Favre?
Did the Colts maniacally plan to stink in 2011 just in time to draft Andrew Luck first overall in 2012, just as Peyton Manning’s career was at its dusk?
Did the Seattle Seahawks know Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor would become great? Is that why they waited until the fifth round to draft them? Were they convinced Russell Wilson could take the team to two Super Bowls but they could wait until the third round to pick him?
Oh, yeah, in another sport locally, did the Heat know Dwyane Wade would become a transcendent talent when it picked him? Did the team know that even when Pat Riley wanted Chris Kaman?
The Dolphins have had precious little of it lately, unless of course you count bad luck.
Beyond Brees, how does one explain having the second pick in 2005, the first pick in 2008, the third pick in 2013, and not getting even one player who lasted (or will last in the case of Dion Jordan) with the team beyond his rookie contract?
A chimp throwing darts at pictures of potential picks could land at least one great player given that many high selections.
How do you explain drafting Yatil Green in the first round and having him blow out his knee twice in his first two training camps, effectively ending his career?
How do you explain going to the 2007 draft with a top 10 pick, needing a quarterback and receiver in the worst way, and the available players at those positions were Ted Ginn, Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem, Buster Davis, Anthony Gonzalez, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, John Beck, Drew Stanton and Trent Edwards?
Some will argue the Dolphins’ failures are about a lack of expertise. They argue it is about subpar people doing subpar work. And I cannot argue against some of that.
But if one believes the team is poorly owned, poorly run, poorly coached and poorly stocked of talent, there is only one hope for that changing based on the decisions about to be made:
The Dolphins must get lucky.