The coming 2017 Miami Dolphins season? Hope, if you root for this team, there were clues in the scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday morning.
On the very first play of the day, “right now” starting quarterback Matt Moore threw to a spot that receiver DeVante Parker was supposed to occupy after running an in-cut. But Parker didn’t beat Xavien Howard to the spot and the second-year cornerback was waiting for the ball.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Howard looked like the promising young cornerback he is. Moore looked like a goat, although the turnover wasn’t his fault.
No matter, because the next time the offense got the football, Moore directed a long drive by completing all five of his passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Moore’s day was finished on that inspired answer to a catastrophic moment.
And that’s how these Dolphins have to approach this coming season because this past week has been, I’ll say it, nothing short of a disaster.
Think of it: Starting running back Jay Ajayi sustained a concussion on Monday. Starting left guard Ted Larsen was knocked out for the foreseeable future with a biceps injury on Thursday. And on that same day, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill re-injured the same left knee that he partially tore his ACL in last season.
And, despite reports Tannehill sustained no structural damage and the Dolphins could have escaped big trouble, I’ve been told over and over that is not accurate and Tannehill is going to miss “significant” time and that all options are on the table, including season-ending surgery.
Again, the starting quarterback might have sustained a season-ending knee injury and be headed toward surgery and a long rehabilitation process.
Let that sink in because that isn’t just another transaction set to agate type. That’s season-defining stuff. That’s season-crashing news.
So what do the Dolphins need now?
They need heroics. They need an unexpected recovery. They need that touchdown drive to erase the taste of the opening-play interception.
The Dolphins need to respond to terrible things now the way they built a reputation for responding to terrible things last year.
You recall last season?
The team lost four of its first five games. It was buried in the AFC East cellar. The year was over before it began, it seemed.
And then the Dolphins inexplicably rallied and won six of the next seven games. Now, that is a rally.
Tannehill was then knocked out for the season with a partially torn ACL and again the season was teetering.
But the Dolphins rallied again. With Moore taking over, the team won three of its final four games and earned a playoff berth. Not to oversell, but it was all very inspiring.
And the Dolphins need a similar rally now. They need an answer.
They’ve already delivered the bad news. They’ve already lost their starting quarterback for a long time. Now where’s the recovery? The heroics? The rally?
Well, maybe it began here:
“Me, Mike [Tannenbaum] and Chris [Grier] were up here pretty late [Friday night],” coach Adam Gase said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “We were kind of figuring out all of our options, putting them on the table. We just have to see. We’re waiting for a few more opinions to come in. We’re in no rush.”
The Dolphins have talked with quarterbacks who could fill the vacant spot Tannehill’s injury has created. The most likely direction this is going to take is for them to convince Jay Cutler to play instead of work as a FOX network color analyst this season.
Gase talked to his former quarterback late last week. He said he asked Cutler if he was interested in playing for Miami.
“He was interested,” Gase said. “I think he’s just trying to figure out everything …”
There’s been a question whether Cutler would have to be guaranteed a starting job ahead of Moore. Apparently not.
“He didn’t demand anything,” Gase said.
Cutler’s agent is going to demand a hefty payday. That’s what agents do. And so the Miami braintrust must figure something out without hurting the team’s salary cap this season and beyond.
All these decisions are likely to come on Sunday. With players off and the front office working, that should be a day for major decisions.
It’s a good day to begin turning the corner on disaster and perhaps point the franchise toward whatever success 2017 will bring.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero