Armando Salguero

Only two ways Dolphins can rise above mediocrity. And one isn’t an option right away.

Dan Marino, here after a December 1994 victory over the New York Jets, was simply a lucky get for the Dolphins in the 1983 draft.
Dan Marino, here after a December 1994 victory over the New York Jets, was simply a lucky get for the Dolphins in the 1983 draft. AP

Are you tired of getting on the same treadmill that forces you to walk through 6-10, 7-9, and 8-8 Miami Dolphins seasons but never gets you anywhere meaningful? You want the Dolphins to be great?

There are only two ways of escaping the mediocrity, folks.

You can pray the Dolphins stumble upon a generational player like they once did with Dan Marino — like the Green Bay Packers did with Aaron Rodgers and San Francisco 49ers did with Joe Montana — and ride that thunderbolt of sheer luck to years of relevance and maybe a championship.

Or you can pray your team simply stinks for a while. A long while. And out of that sewer of multiple 2-14 or 3-13 seasons can blossom a rose.

“Good,” former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson used to say, “is the enemy of great.”

He was right.

Good NFL teams fill their fans with hope during the season. But they have a hard time making the leap to greatness because the NFL Draft and the salary cap are really a form of sports socialism. The systems are built to suppress consistent excellence while trying to lift up failure.

The good teams draft later. The good teams obviously have good players they must pay so they have less salary cap space.

The bad teams draft first. The bad teams get rid of most of their players after their cheap rookie contracts expire because those players brought a lot of losing and aren’t worth paying. So most bad teams have plenty of salary cap space.

Sports socialism — without the corruption and hunger and violence on innocents.

So can we agree that the way to build an NFL contender is to use the system or simply get lucky? Because I’m looking at Sunday’s AFC Championship Game matchup and I see a team that used the system visiting a team that got lucky. The winner will go to Super Bowl 52.

The visiting Jacksonville Jaguars have risen to title game heights because they spent years under water. This franchise has authored a combined 22-74 record the six seasons before this one. There was no season during that span in which Jacksonville won more than five games.

And what was the gain from all that pain? The Jaguars have drafted in the top five for six consecutive years.

Yeah, it’s no coincidence that Jacksonville’s roster boasts Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Leonard Fournette, Dante Fowler, Allen Robinson, Marquis Lee and others.

The Jags have been picking high — in every round of every draft — for half a dozen years.

The Patriots have been selecting near the bottom of the draft for much of this millennium. But that 199th selection they took in 2000 was an epiphany. That fateful pick brought quarterback Tom Brady to New England.

It was a lucky get. And it changed everything.

So where does that leave your Miami Dolphins, you’re asking?

Well, you better hope for some major luck because this team is chained to the mediocre treadmill.

While the Jaguars spent the past six drafts picking in the top five, the Dolphins have spent four of those years picking in the teens. Last year, Miami picked No. 22.

The one season the Dolphins got in the top five, in 2013, they blew their pick on Dion Jordan.

So not only have the Dolphins not gotten many chances to consistently upgrade their roster with the most coveted draft picks, they’ve also not had any luck in finding that individual who could lift the franchise — even on that one time they had a great draft slot.

What is that line in “The Waterboy”?

“Oh no, we suck again!”

Want the good news?

Sorry, there is no good news. I only have frustrating news for you and here it is:

The Dolphins in 2017 missed their chance to, how to put this nicely, stink. The team lost its starting quarterback in training camp, which typically ruins a season for any NFL team as it proved to do for Miami.

But because the Dolphins brain trust was coming off a playoff season and wanted to build on that, the team did what it could to salvage the season. And so the Dolphins paid $10 million to sign Jay Cutler.

Except Cutler was, well, Cutler. He couldn’t do any better than be the substandard quarterback he has always been. So the Dolphins didn’t flop to 2-14 extremes. They merely flopped to 6-10.

One cannot blame the Dolphins for trying to rescue a sinking season after Ryan Tannehill went down. It’s never wrong to want and try to succeed. But that doesn’t change the facts they thus face this offseason:

They don’t have a top five draft pick. They don’t even have a top 10 draft pick. And they don’t have $10 million on the salary cap they would have carried over if not for signing Cutler.

So then how can they rise out of their mediocrity? You better hope they get lucky.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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