This is what rebuilding looks like for the Miami Dolphins: It’s getting dismantled in the first two games of the season by a total of 102-10, the worst start (by far) in the franchise’s 54-season history.
This is what rebuilding looks like: It’s 2018 first-round draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick likely playing his final game for Miami in a 43-0 loss to the New England Patriots because he has grown unhappy with his role on the team, has asked to be traded, the work done by coaches to convince him to stay hasn’t worked, and the Dolphins are well down the road to striking a trade deal.
This is what rebuilding looks like: It’s putting out the fire of an erroneous media report about Kenyan Drake being on the trade block and being actively shopped when Dolphins sources vehemently deny that’s true.
This is what rebuilding looks like: It’s starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggling in the first two games because he’s basically been put in a no-win situation -- with sub-standard blocking and poor receiving -- and when it all comes together as inefficient offense, it’s his starting job that will be evaluated this week and it’s him who might be benched in favor of Josh Rosen.
All of this is what rebuilding looks like, folks.
As owner Stephen Ross told the Miami Herald in an Sunday, “We said it wouldn’t be easy, but it was something we are committed to and believe it’s the only way we can build a team to win continually.
“Nothing great in life was ever achieved easily.”
Well, the Dolphins had better find a great day at the end of this journey because so far this trip is awful. So allow me to unpack the admittedly messy baggage the Dolphins are carrying.
It would surprise if Minkah Fitzpatrick makes it to the Dallas Cowboys game next Sunday. The Dolphins have been talking with three teams who are seriously interested in the former No. 11 overall selection, according to sources.
The Dallas Cowboys, interested early on, have dropped out of the derby and would have to do much work to make up the ground they’ve lost to those three teams.
The Dolphins are certain -- certain! -- they’re going to get a first-round draft pick for the defensive back. And they’re confident they might get an extra piece of compensation in the deal as well -- perhaps a player, or maybe a lower-round draft pick.
That’s how far along the Minkah trade talks are, which is to say, very far along.
Barring a total derailment of these negotiations, the Dolphins will hold three first-round draft picks for 2020.
The truth is a couple of those picks might be lower in the first round because the Houston Texans, who picked 23rd overall last draft, seem on course to have a solid season again so their first-rounder from the Laremy Tunsil trade probably will come later. And because the three teams Miami is currently talking to about Fitzpatrick are playoff-caliber teams that first-round selection also could come later in the draft.
But, again, three first round draft picks for the Dolphins in 2020.
The same sources who don’t deny the Fitzpatrick trade talks were shocked Sunday when news of trade discussions for Drake got out. Because, those sources say, no such talks have happened.
The problem is everyone thinks the Dolphins are selling off everybody now. And since Drake is known to be dissatisfied with his status on the team, some have jumped to the logical conclusion that he’s on the trade block.
This, by the way, is not great for team chemistry.
The Dolphins may or may not end up trading Drake before the Oct. 29 deadline. He is, after all, in the final year of his contract and some team wanting his explosive running style might contact the Dolphins about acquiring him.
But the fact is the Dolphins likely wouldn’t get back for Drake what they paid -- a third-rounder -- and they think he can be part of the team in the future even if he doesn’t have a contract for that future right now. So they are not shopping him now.
Speaking of the future, the Dolphins have work to do in the next few days on their quarterback position.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled the first two games this season. He’s completed 25 of 50 passes for 274 yards with one TD and four interceptions -- three of those on Sunday.
He’s been sacked six times and been hit many more times than that. The guy is really in a no-win situation because the offense around him is not performing to any average NFL level.
“Well, I mean, as a quarterback, everything – at the end of the day – it’s all going to fall on you,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s why we play the position that we do. That’s why I play the position, because I want that responsibility.
“I want that blame. I know I can go out there and do a much better job. I think especially at this position, if you go out there and play better, then the team as a whole does better, so I’ve just got to continue to try to do my best out there.”
It’s not Ryan’s fault but it is his responsibility and that’s the reason the Dolphins are going to consider making a quarterback change this week. It should be noted Rosen hasn’t played amazingly in mop-up duty. But it’s not about that with Rosen. It’s about seeing if he can improve week to week and be part of the team’s future.
It should also be noted Brian Flores said Fitzpatrick is his starter “right now.” But right now is fleeting. Right now may not matter on Wednesday when the Dolphins begin preparations for their next game in Dallas -- a trip Minkah Fitzpatrick may not make, and the Dolphins might make loaded with another first-round draft pick and a new starting quarterback.
That’s what rebuilding looks like.