The Washington Redskins, winless in five games this season, on Monday morning dismissed head coach Jay Gruden. The former head coach had only half-kiddingly wondered aloud if his keys to the Redskins training complex would work after a loss to the New England Patriots.
“If the key works Monday, I’ll keep working,” Gruden said.
The keys were presumably deactivated and offensive line coach and assistant head coach Bill Callahan is the interim coach who will prepare the Redskins for their game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
It’ll be an interesting matchup of have-nots because the Dolphins are winless through four games even as the Redskins remain a rudderless organization with problems much deeper than poor work by Gruden.
So the world is upside down right now.
But not so much with the Redskins as with the Dolphins.
I say this in all seriousness because despite their many roster flaws, troubled front office and unrepentant poor ownership, Redskins’ fans know which way is up and which way is down. And the Dolphins this year have undertaken a process that has their fans -- you -- not always understanding that difference.
I took an admittedly unscientific poll on Twitter Sunday. And I asked Dolphins fans what is more important to the franchise’s legacy ...
To avoid going 0-16 at all costs?
Or to secure the top pick in the 2020 draft at all costs?
The question was clear in it’s contrast. Would you rather avoid being winless and possibly lose that first pick? Or would you rather secure that first pick with a winless season and lose all dignity?
And a whopping 78 percent of the 5,570 respondents voted to lose every game in order to get the top pick. Only 22 percent said avoiding 0-16 was more important.
That margin is stunning to me.
Because, basically, Dolphins fans are voting for losing. They’re voting to go winless.
They obviously believe going winless is a means to an end. If Miami fails to win a game all season, that will definitely give the team the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NFL draft and the team can then select its forever awesome, elite quarterback.
Fans have tied defeat this fall to victory next spring.
I get that. And I’m not entirely opposed to losing because I think I had a little something to do with the #TankforTua campaign. I want the Dolphins to get that top pick next spring, too.
But I definitely do not want the Dolphins to be 0-16.
Don’t do that.
Don’t be winless.
I think avoiding that ignominy is more important than everything else, including gaining that first pick. I’m fine with the Dolphins being 1-15. But 0-16 is wholly unacceptable and distasteful to me.
Well, I’m old fashioned. So I remember the fall and winter of 1972.
The Miami Dolphins were 17-0 then. And that put the franchise in a singular crowning position of being the first and, so far only, franchise to author an undefeated season. It is an accomplishment that will never be bettered because one can get no better than undefeated. And only one team did it first.
So I don’t wish to see the glory of that undefeated season and what it has represented to the franchise for decades to be sullied by a bookend winless season. It makes me feel like the brand, the franchise, the very fabric of what the Miami Dolphins once were would be torn. Insulted. Soiled.
And as surely as I hold coach Don Shula and owner Joe Robbie and personnel boss Joe Thomas and all the players of that 1972 team in great admiration and reverence for what they accomplished, I would hold coach Brian Flores and owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier and all the players on this 2019 team in great disfavor for bringing a once-great franchise to the lowest depths possible.
It would forever be on their resumes. It would be, I assure you, part of their legacy.
But I am in the extreme minority.
Most Dolphins fans -- many of you, I suppose -- don’t give a rip about having 17-0 spat upon by 0-16. You are perfectly fine with your team being utter and complete losers, and are actually rooting for exactly that, as long as it gets you that No. 1 pick.
Now let me say this: I know of no Dolphins coach or player who thinks it would be acceptable to be 0-16. They work every day to do exactly the opposite of 0-16. So basically that means a majority of Dolphins fans and the part of the Dolphins organization that takes the field every game day have diametrically opposed goals.
They want to win. The fan majority wants to lose.
And many of that fan majority still watch on TV. Or purchase the cable package to watch Miami’s games. Or actually go to the game. So those folks invest all that time and resources to root for failure now?
And if the Dolphins beat the hapless Redskins on Sunday that fan majority will be upset?
Now you understand why I say things are upside down with this Dolphins season.
Look, I understand what this season is about. It’s about next season.
But let me make clear to you what 0-16 is about: It’s about forever being branded with a scarlet mark of utter failure and ineptitude. It is historic for every wrong reason. And that never, ever goes away.
Please, don’t root for that. Don’t represent that.
The only team ever to be perfect in a season cannot also be winless in a season. It’s unthinkable.