Whether you like what the Miami Dolphins have done throughout 2019 or not, ready or not the regular-season is here. And while the narrative around the franchise that once delivered a perfect season is that they’re about to deliver a near opposite of that this season, the people who actually collect a check from the organization believe in themselves.
Everybody else might think the Dolphins are not going to be good.
But coach Brian Flores unblinkingly believes everybody is wrong.
“Yes,” he said Friday, “I think I have a good team. I have a good team, but every week’s hard in this league. There’s a lot of talent, really, across the board. If you prepare, prepare the right way, if you take the steps necessary to put yourself in position to play well, then that’s what you do and we’ll see what happens.”
Las Vegas has put the over-under on Dolphins wins this season at 4 1/2. And apparently 74 percent of people wagering are betting the under.
So, yeah, the Dolphins are in a vast, vast minority. Many folks look at them and see a tear down.
But the Dolphins look at themselves and see what they’re building.
“I feel like as a team, we can win,” defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, the team’s first-round pick this year said. “Outsiders or people who are not in this building create a narrative for us or create that rhetoric for us.
“It’s all with us and how we work and prepare every day. It’s hot as hell out there, and we work every day hard in that sun and everything, too. Me, personally, just because everyone thinks we’re supposed to be this or that, I’m not rolling over for anybody. I’m trying to bring it in and be the best that I can be.
“I feel like guys around here are definitely trying to be great at what they do and be the best they can be. We’re all pros. We’ve all got a job to do, so if we come with that mind-set, who knows where we’ll end up? I’m not promising anything. I just know that we work hard every day in that hot sun out there. Like I said, I don’t plan on rolling over for anybody because other people think something of us.”
This, of course, is the right mind-set. It’s a winner’s mind-set.
But mind-set doesn’t change the facts. And for the sake of, you know, reality let’s address a couple of those undeniable facts:
The Dolphins’ offensive line has the makings of a disaster. The club this week moved starting right tackle Jesse Davis to the left side, where he is expected to start at left tackle. The club this week acquired Houston starting left tackle Julien Davenport in the Laremy Tunsil trade and moved him to right tackle.
And Davenport, who played some right tackle in Houston, could be starting there after spending all of four practices with his new team.
So not exactly optimal.
The club authored an exodus of talent this offseason but didn’t host a complementary influx of replacement talent.
The starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is a general among the troops in the locker room. But he’s 36 years old, has never been a consistent player year over year, and the Dolphins were the only NFL team that offered him a chance to compete for a starting job.
Every other team decided a different direction was better.
So either the Dolphins know something no other team knows... Or they’re the one left out of the loop of good quarterback knowledge.
It is interesting Fitzpatrick is Miami’s starter. He won a competition against second-year and former first-round pick Josh Rosen. And the reason for that is quite elementary.
“We felt like he gave us the best chance to win,” Flores said of Fitzpatrick. “This is a guy who has started a lot of games in this league. He’s got really great leadership qualities. He knows how to handle an offense.
“At the end of the day, we just felt he gave us the best chance to win. We’re excited about this opportunity to play a really tough, well-coached, disciplined team. We’re going to have to really play lights-out to have a chance.”
The Dolphins say they take one day at a time, one game at a time, following a Flores edict. But the team plans to play Rosen at some point this season. Another reason he didn’t start this early in the season, however, might have something to do with not wanting to go back and forth at the position.
When coaches discussed their quarterback decision they talked of not wanting to put Rosen in the lineup and possibly having to pull him if he struggled, a source said. The team didn’t want to have an in-one-week-out-the-next dynamic for any of the quarterbacks — and especially not Rosen whose confidence could be affected by such a move.
Despite all this, many other roster flaws and the inexperience top to bottom within the organization, Flores believes his team will not disappoint in the regular-season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
“These guys are motivated,” Flores said of his team. “They’re ready to go. We know we have a great opponent in front of us. The Ravens are a good team. We know that. They’re tough, they’re physical and we got to match their toughness and match their physicality, and match their execution. That’s the goal Sunday.”
And when asked directly, Flores said, “Yeah, we’ll be ready to play Sunday.”