Armando Salguero

What happens after Dolphins dismiss Tannenbaum. And what should happen

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is all but certain to dismiss vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum by the new year, ending his four seasons with the club. And barring some unexpected circumstance, the owner will keep head coach Adam Gase and general manager Chris Grier in place for 2019.

(The Miami Dolphins laying another egg similar to the one the past two weeks combined with a significant upgrade becoming available would qualify as an unexpected circumstance, by the way, so it would behoove Gase to get his team to show up for the season finale on Sunday.)

But aside from Tannenbaum, the brain trust that led the Dolphins the past three seasons will remain in place -- perhaps with an addition of a different VP of football ops, who may or may not have say in the direction of the franchise.

How and if Ross would fill the Tannenbaum void remains unclear.

It’s a difficult question but as Ross is unlikely to accept anyone removing Gase or Grier, that person likely won’t wield a ton of power and certainly not more than Gase who has contractual control of the 53 man roster and reports exclusively to Ross.

I suppose the Dolphins will figure it all out and you’re likely to hear names emerge frof the rumor mill as additions Ross might consider. Already in the past three days I’ve heard Dan Marino, the return of Dawn Aponte, and numerous outside people with no current or previous connection to the Dolphins.

Now, what would fake owner Mr. Salguero do with his Miami Dolphins to fix the current situation, starting the day after current owner Mr. Ross sells me the team for $1? (Ross has enough money already and didn’t need me to pay more.)

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Here we go ...

No, I don’t tear it all down. I want to. I really do, but one does not throw babies out with bath water and counter to the current desire of Dolphins fans who constantly email me, or @ me on Twitter, I keep Gase.

I believe Gase is going to be a good head coach. Someday.

Yes, some of the stuff we’ve seen this year are cringe-worthy. Please, coach, stop telling me the reason you’re struggling on the road is because you’re playing tough teams. I don’t buy that for one second and I really hope neither do you. I rather just hear you don’t know why your team stinks on the road rather than you concocting answers that make my head explode.

And then what I do is take a lot of power away from Gase. Love, you bro, but you’re not Bill Belichick at this point.

I don’t want Gase having final say over practically everything on the football side from free agency to trades to salary cap philosophy to contracts. Gase clearly has his plate quite packed with coaching the team and, particularly his ineffective offense.

So he shouldn’t be the final decision-maker on anything else beyond that.

Get the Dolphins offense in the Top 10 in the NFL for four or five years and Gase can have all that power back. Be a good steward over a little, and you can be the steward over much.

But not yet. Miami’s offense is 25th in points this year, was 25th in points last year, and was 24th in points in 2016.

So fix that. Concentrate on that.

Oh, yeah, and concentrate on hiring coaches to fix the defense, too. Because the head coach is responsible for both the offense and the defense.

And the Miami defense is not just bad but historically bad. So bad that last week Cody Kessler and Blake Bortles beat the Dolphins.

On what planet does that suggest there’s no problem?

So fake owner Mr. Salguero gives Adam Gase a contract extension. He gets a raise from his $5 million per year deal because I want him to love Mr. Salguero and I want everyone to know Mr. Salguero loves his coach.

But that contract extension costs Adam Gase final say on everything from the roster to when people in the facility can go to the bathroom, which is basically the kind of power he has now.

(A small bookkeeping item: To accomplish this Gase extension transaction I need to have someone that can go to agent Jimmy Sexton and win the negotiation. The Dolphins too often in recent years have had it handed to them by Sexton on deals for Gase, Andre Branch, Ndamukong Suh and others. Mr. Salguero’s Dolphins are not caving to Sexton’s ploys and antics. That stops.)

That complete, I find someone who is every bit an Alpha male as Gase. Because Alpha 1 is sometimes going to tell Alpha 2, “No.”

No, we’re not letting Ryan Tannehill get by without having surgery after blowing out his knee.

No, it’s not OK to skip drafting Tannehill’s replacement after that non-surgery.

No, we’re not trading Mike Pouncey.

No, we’re not signing a bunch of old free agents -- most of whom will end the season on injured reserve.

No, we’re not taking Philadelphia Eagles discards.

No, Frank Gore is not coming back next year so he can be a progress stopper again.

No, we’re not paying middle-of-the-road defensive ends $8 million after they had one good season in a contract year.

No, we do not fall in love with players no matter how much you like them or what position they play. This is a business relationship, not a marriage.

No, we don’t hire first-year coordinators to run the defense when proven coordinators are available. And we certainly don’t do it two times in a row.

No, we don’t act like guards don’t matter. Because they do.

No, we don’t draft tight ends that cannot block and aren’t tough.

Yes, we do accept the occasional questionable person on our team. Because the Miami Dolphins are a football team and not a Presbyterian choir.

Mr. Salguero hires a person that balances Gase and brings him to that place where he thinks like a ruthless business man with forethought and vision, rather than the young coach who is fueled mostly by testosterone, black coffee, Red Bull, and pizza.

The person I’m hiring to tell Gase no when necessary is going to be more than a “no” man. He’s earning the big bucks because he must keep his eyes on the prize and make sure the Miami Dolphins are always pointed toward that prize.

Coaches don’t keep their eyes on the prize.

General managers sometimes but not always keep their eyes on the prize.

Tannenbaum didn’t keep his eyes on the prize.

The prize, by the way, is not winning the next game.

The prize is not sneaking into the playoffs as a sixth seed, going on the road and getting destroyed -- one-and-done.

The prize is not staying employed.

The prize, my friends, is winning the Super Bowl. That has never changed and has been said in this space before.

Except the Miami Dolphins clearly have not had that vision for many years, including during the last three years under Tannenbaum, Gase, and Grier.

I’ve gotten the feel that they keep their eyes on next week.

Next game.

Getting to the postseason maybe and then we’ll see.

I know this because if the prize was winning the Super Bowl, we’re not signing Jay Cutler when the starting quarterback goes down. Look, the starting quarterback goes down in training camp, your season is either over or saved improbably by the backup who has been on the roster.

You do not hire a mercenary who has never won anything for $10 million.

What? You’re saying my solution might lead to a terrible season if the backup on the roster isn’t up to the task? That’s true.

So fall back one year. Collect yourself. And resources.

And come back next year with more salary cap room and higher draft picks in order to do what in the future? Yes, have enough draft capital to select a quarterback who can help you chase a what?

Yes, a Super Bowl.

I don’t think making the playoffs one year, on a sheer goof, and then falling off the table for a couple of years is a good formula.

I would rather endure one or two years of major pain (yes, losing) that gets me potentially great draft picks that become potentially great players. And then we roll two or three years down the road with some sustainability.

(Gase is fine with this because he’s my coach for a long time after that extension and we draft a great, young quarterback he can coach up. Oh, look, I’m remaking the Miami Dolphins in the image of the Steelers or Patriots.)

The Miami Dolphins need to start playing the long game. They’ve been playing the short term for too long by giving lip service to winning now while, you know, not actually winning now.

They’ve been making decisions to win a little now, maybe, at the expense of winning big later. And, by the way, the win-now decisions haven’t exactly worked out -- as proven by the decision to keep DeVante Parker at the trade deadline last October after that great Houston game he had.

That was the time to dump Parker for perhaps a fourth-round pick. Maybe a fifth.

The Dolphins kept him because they didn’t have enough bodies at receiver at the time and wanted to win with Parker this year. And what did that get them?

Parker had 134 receiving yards in that Houston game, days before the trade deadline.

And since the trade deadline passed, Parker has 122 receiving yards in the six games. And he is not going to be on the team next season when the Dolphins rescind his fifth-year option.

Instead of playing the long game, and enduring some pain as a result, the Dolphins played the short game. And lost at both.

Did you hear Gase last week say he hasn’t talked to Gore about returning next year but will do so down the road? That conversation should be a farewell, not a planning session for 2019.

Because Gore is not the future.

Because a 36-year-old Frank Gore next year would once again be a marvel. But one who takes carries away from more explosive backs Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage, who actually are the future.

The Dolphins need someone to tell Gase, nope, not doing that Gore thing again. Sounds good. Makes your soul feels good.

But doesn’t fit a long game philosophy.

Doesn’t fit the vision of chasing a Super Bowl and making moves that fit that vision accordingly.

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Armando Salguero has covered the Miami Dolphins and the NFL since 1990, so longer than many players on the current roster have been alive and since many coaches on the team were in middle school. He was a 2016 APSE Top 3 columnist nationwide. He is one of 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He is an Associated Press All-Pro and awards voter. He’s covered Dolphins games in London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo. He has covered 25 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, and the Olympics.
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