The Miami Dolphins signed a backup running back on Monday. It doesn’t really matter who because, let’s face it, the Dolphins already have three of their running back spots filled with Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake and rookie Kalen Ballage so anyone joining the competition must know their odds of making the team are very long.
What matters is that in adding Jeremy Langford, the Dolphins are following a formula most past coaching staffs and personnel departments followed with relative little success. And the team is following a formula this coaching staff has followed with relative little success.
The signing of Langford, who played 28 games with five starts for the Chicago Bears in 2015-16, means he played for Adam Gase when Gase was the Bears offensive coordinator in ‘15. Langford also played for offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains when Loggains succeeded Gase upon the head coach’s hiring in Miami.
So the Dolphins have added a player they are very familiar with.
We know him.
He knows us.
We know what he can do.
He knows what to do.
Except ... It hasn’t been awesome.
The list of players the Dolphins have brought onto the roster under Gase with ties to the head coach or his assistants is notable. And it doesn’t include many success stories.
There is Jay Cutler, Julius Thomas, Jermon Bushrod, Rey Maualuga, Senorise Perry, David Fales, Brock Osweiler, Akeem Spence, Daniel Thomas, Jason Jones, and Frank Gore off the top of my head.
From that list it’s plausible to argue Bushrod was a good acquisition. Gore, battling for the starting running back job, and Spence, working with the starters this training camp, could turn out to be good acquisitions.
Everyone else on that list either failed miserably or has been uninspiring during their time with the Dolphins.
Some of the acquisitions, such as Maualuga,, embarrassed themselves and sullied the Dolphins brand.
Now, it should be repeated that all previous Dolphins coaching staffs and personnel departments brought in players they were familiar with when they first arrived.
Nick Saban drafted a cornerback from LSU, Cam Cameron traded for Trent Green, Bill Parcells signed Chad Pennington, Anthony Fasano, Akin Ayoddele and Jason Ferguson. Joe Philbin loved Daryn Colledge.
Even Don Shula once upon a time brought in the quarterback who helped the Dolphins remain undefeated in 1972: Earl Morrall.
So I get it, coaching staffs like to work with familiar players.
But after a while we need to, you know, cut the cord.
There are reasons these familiar players are available, first of all.
And it’s a trap to believe you’re signing the athlete who played well for you years ago. Because you often get a player who is much older, much slower, and much less motivated or eager.
Past Dolphins administrations learned to move away from signing players simply because of familiarity. Even Parcells, who had the most success doing this and loved “my guys” pivoted toward the draft after 2008.
This staff might consider making that separation also.
Or not. Because this year -- on the cusp of the third season of Adam Gase-Mike Tannenbaum-Chris Grier -- the appeal of familiarity is still a thing.
This year the group added Osweiler, re-signed Fales, added Gore, traded for Spence and just signed a backup camp running back. Last year making similar familiarity moves was a debacle.
We’ll see how that familiarity works this time.