Don’t call it tanking.
Call it strategic rebuilding that could result in the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft.
And if you view the Dolphins’ past two weeks through that lens, then the plan is on track.
Just ask Alan Berg, the senior oddsman at Caesar’s Entertainment, who shared his book’s updated odds for each team to win its division.
The Patriots, no surprise, are overwhelming favorites to repeat as AFC East champions: minus-850, which is an implied probability of 89.5 percent.
Adam Gase and the Jets are next on the list at 6.5-to-1.
The Bills come in third at 10-to-1.
So where does that leave the Dolphins?
Not even close.
Berg lists the Dolphins as a 100-to-1 long shot to capture their first division title since 2008. In other words, they have a 1 percent chance to dethrone New England.
That’s historically bad.
By comparison, the Cardinals — owners of the No. 1 pick of the 2019 draft — are 25-to-1 to win the NFC West. The Giants, who just traded away one of the best players in the league, are 15-to-1 to win the NFC East.
So the Giants are six times more likely to win their division than the Dolphins.
And given the construction of the Dolphins’ roster, it’s almost a surprise their odds are that good.
The Dolphins do not have a quarterback. (And their top two veteran choices decided a better option was to sign backups elsewhere.)
They do not have a right tackle or a left guard.
And their most accomplished defensive end, Robert Quinn, is trade bait.
For most any other team in any other year, this would be a full-blown catastrophe.
For the Dolphins, it’s the execution of a meticulous plan.
In other words, tanks a lot!
Granted, they cannot say that. No team will admit that losses are really wins.
Which is why Chris Grier told reporters at the Scouting Combine that “we’re not trying to tank or lose every game. But we’re going to build it right and see how it plays out.”
But his actions have spoken even louder.
The Dolphins are all-in on 2020, with at least 10 projected draft picks (including a very high first-rounder, if Vegas is right) and more than $120 million in salary cap space.
But before that offseason bonanza, we’re going to have to survive the months of September, October, November and December.
And there will be pain, Vegas insists.
Even before trading Ryan Tannehill to the Titans for draft picks, including a fourth-rounder in 2020, the Dolphins were the longest shot to win the Super Bowl. OddsShark had them at 125-to-1. Westgate listed them at 150-to-1.
As for VegasInsider? A whopping 200-to-1.
But again, no panic. Short of trading for Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr. and about 10 other players, the Dolphins were not going to win it all this year. Grier knew that the day he took over control of football operations.
So, with Stephen Ross’ blessing, he made the strategic decision to take two steps back in hopes of making a quantum leap forward.
Savvy observers get it. And applaud him for it.
“Can’t believe I’m saying this but the #Dolphins are doing *work,*” wrote Evan Silva, a senior NFL writer for Rotoworld. “Have a chance to become one of the most interesting teams in the NFL over the next few years if they keep this up.”
But first, they are going to lose.
Probably a lot.
It will not be fun, Dolphins fans. But you can never say that the betting public didn’t warn you.