Armando Salguero

Another slow start will pile on a Dolphins team rife with drama

When quarterback Ryan Tannehill, left, went down with a knee injury, coach Adam Gase lured former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, right, out of retirement to be the starter. Cutler comes with a mixed reputation as a gunslinger but polarizing leader.
When quarterback Ryan Tannehill, left, went down with a knee injury, coach Adam Gase lured former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, right, out of retirement to be the starter. Cutler comes with a mixed reputation as a gunslinger but polarizing leader. AP

The Dolphins must love drama. Fine, maybe they don’t love some drama, like season-ending injuries and terrible starts to seasons.

But it’s quite obvious based on the last year or so that this team doesn’t mind a bit of drama and probably even embraces it.

Why do we know this? Consider the past year of Dolphins history under coach Adam Gase:

Last year began with a 1-4 record. And everyone was writing off the season after the first month. Gase was telling his players some of them were about to lose their jobs and, indeed, some (Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas) did unceremoniously lose their jobs.

And then, out of nowhere, a running back who got left in South Florida when the team traveled to Seattle for the season opener exploded onto the NFL’s consciousness with one, and then another, and then a third 200-yard rushing game en route to finishing the year as the league’s fourth-leading rusher.

Meanwhile, the team won nine games in a row. And then finished a successful playoff push — its first in eight seasons — behind a backup quarterback who replaced the injured starting quarterback.

Drama.

So now you’re thinking Gase’s second season and this Dolphins team isn’t going to match those sort of hijinks in 2017, right?

RIGHT?

Wrong, if the preseason was an indicator.

Ryan Tannehill, the All-American boy quarterback who blew out his knee last season, didn’t make it out of the second week of training camp before he blew out the same knee again.

And so the Dolphins turned to Jay Cutler, a national figure for his reputation as a mocked, derided, married-to-a-reality-show-star, disinterested coach killer. And then Cutler arrives in Miami with that horrible reputation and teammates love him!

Miami Dolphins QB Jay Cutler talks about missing football while he was retired, his ex-teammate Alshon Jeffery and more.

And now we get to see if he’s a latter-day Jim Plunkett, who resurrected his misbegotten New England career in Oakland to win championships. Or we get to see if he’s a super-sub like Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and Dak Prescott.

Or we see that, regardless of how much teammates like him and Gase vouches for him, he’s the same average (85.7 career quarterback rating), losing (68-71 record) quarterback he hass always been.

Drama.

These Dolphins belong by the coffee table on an “Inside the Actors Studio” episode, for sure. This team might lack a stacked offensive line but it is quite deep on plot lines.

Is Jarvis Landry going to get a new contract?

Is Landry going to lose his mind if he doesn’t?

Is DeVante Parker going to deliver in the regular season like he did in the offseason?

Is Parker ever to going to speak above a whisper?

Is Lawrence Timmons going to renew his epic man-to-man battles with New England receiver Julian Edelman?

Is Timmons going to win the deepest voice in the NFL contest?

Will Ajayi gain enough yards this year to show he wasn’t a one-year wonder?

Jarvis Landry meets with reporters after Thursday's joint practice with the Eagles.

Will the number of yards Ajayi gains be higher than the number of autographs he signs in his native England when the Dolphins visit in October?

Drama.

The Dolphins gave us a hint this preseason that they have a flair for the dramatic. The Cutler signing was proof. So was losing rookie second-round pick Raekwon McMillan in the first preseason game and replacing him with former Pro Bowl linebacker Rey Maualuga.

Out went Tony Lippett with a season-ending Achilles injury and in stepped former Pro Bowl player Alterruan Verner.

Starters replaced with bigger-name players.

“We’ve had some things happen that were unforeseen, but that’s the NFL,” Gase said, shrugging it off. “Guys have kept plugging along and kept finding ways to get better. I really liked how our guys have been locked in. They haven’t been distracted by anything that’s happened outside the building.

“They’ve done a good job of having that bunker mentality and focusing on the things they can control. That’s what we just have to keep doing. Moving forward, just worry about what you can control.”

And here is where the Dolphins have to find a way to draw the proverbial line in the sand on drama: That horrible start to the 2016 season that led to fan hand-wringing and players getting fired and lineups getting changed? Those cannot repeat.

Drama good. Drama fun.

Horrible-start-to-the-season-drama very bad.

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins running back, talks about his experience in 'concussion protocol'.

“This season, it’s important we start out where we ended last season,” center Mike Pouncey said. “We didn’t play well in the playoff game, but we’re looking to start out the season pretty fast where we left off last regular season.

“We know what kind of team we have. We have a four-quarter team that’s going to grind it out and win in the fourth quarter. But we have to start out the season as fast as possible. We got handed a tough schedule, but so be it. We need to start fast.”

By the way, if the Dolphins, winners in nine of their past 11 regular-season games, start out hot this regular season and maybe keep pace with the New England Patriots for a while, that’s going to be fun.

Not surprisingly, it’ll offer more drama.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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