The days of being safe, boring and mediocre passed into history Thursday.
The Miami Dolphins, a franchise lately known for being vanilla, for doing the safe thing, for seeming content with being just mediocre, made a wild reach at doing the unexpected and extraordinary.
They officially unveiled a new uniform and logo that many hate. They did it knowing the move will drive some fans batty. But they did it while daring to be different and new and possibly great.
An hour after the uniform reveal at Sun Life Stadium, the Dolphins vaulted nine spots in the NFL Draft and passed on a chance to pick a safe player who someday might be good in order to grab a player that has the chance to someday be great.
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Boring is passé with the Dolphins now.
Meet Dion Jordan.
“This is an impact player,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross proudly said. “It’s a great thing. It’s a great day.”
Jordan comes via a bold trade with Oakland that, by the way, was a huge bargain. The Dolphins believed they were dealing in a buyer’s market and offered their second of two second-round picks, the 54th overall selection. The Raiders balked.
A minute later general manager Jeff Ireland called Oakland back and offered his highest second-round pick, No. 42 overall.
That Ireland even made what might seem to be an offensive offer is impressive.
“You don’t get anything for not asking,” he said. “So I asked.”
He got a deal.
And that deal brings a player who comes with this kind of mind-set:
Question: Can you be a strip-sack-fumble-and-touchdown type of defensive end? Jordan’s answer: “Of course.”
Jordan runs like an outside linebacker and was used in that role most of the time at Oregon last season. He’s going to be asked to be a defensive end in Miami. Will the transition to playing with his hands on the ground be a problem?
“Not a problem for me,” Jordan said. “I feel like I’ll do well …”
Unlike past years when the Dolphins tried to make themselves relevant by flirting with celebrities or funky-colored carpets rolled out in front of their stadium, now the team is doing it with bold football moves that belie the philosophy of the past.
Jordan is a player the Dolphins player personnel people have been drooling over since 2011 when they thought he might come out early. He’s 6-6 and 248 pounds, which reminds everyone who sees him of Jason Taylor. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be Jason Taylor good. Let’s not get carried away.
But is he troubled by the comparison?
“I do like the compliment,” Jordan said. “J.T. is a tremendous player. But I feel like I want to make my own statement with the Miami Dolphins.”
He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.61 which means he’s moving as fast as some running backs and tight ends.
The Dolphins are going to use him to chase the ball all the time and chase the quarterback on passing downs.
“I thought he was unique,” Ireland said. “He plays a core position. He’s prototypical. He reminds you of players at that position in the NFL that have had great success. I feel that’s a position you can’t have enough of. I think you have to score touchdowns. You have to knock the quarterback down. You have to take the ball away. I feel like this guy can do one of those things.”
Is this a gamble?
Maybe. Jordan needs to get stronger. He’s raw. And he can’t even lift weights right now because he had a shoulder surgery only two months ago and has two months before he’s completely healed from the procedure.
He might not be ready for the start of training camp. But the club is confident he will be ready for the start of the season.
Maybe you don’t like this move. You see an incomplete player. You would have liked the team to stay at No. 12 and pick an NFL-ready guy such as tight end Tyler Eifert or maybe guard Jonathan Cooper.
Well, years ago the Dolphins picked NFL-ready guys over projects. They picked Jake Long who was ready to be very good right away, over players such as Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan who had the chance to be great but needed time to get there.
How did that work out?
The Dolphins went a different direction this time. It is, apparently, a new day for this team.