About two months ago Sports Illustrated ranked the 10 worst baseball teams and anointed the Miami Marlins the “third most hopeless Major League Baseball franchise.” And as evidence of this ranking, SI leaned on the Marlins’ history for breaking up championship teams, making false promises of spending and then not doing it and other reprehensible behavior that are reasons professional baseball simply does not thrive in South Florida.
And I bring this to your attention in this space because, yes, there is a Dolphins connection to all this. That connection, brought to my attention by the folks at fishstripes.com, points out that over the last 10 seasons the Marlins have been so bad as to field teams with a .437 winning percentage.
And the Dolphins have been worse.
A quick reach for the calculator reveals that heading into the 2019 regular season, the Dolphins had a 65-79 cumulative record dating to the same 2010 season used for the Marlins snapshot. That is a .451 winning percentage.
Except that 2019 is the final season of that 10-season period. And the Dolphins are 0-5 so far this season. That puts their winning percentage over the past 10 seasons at .436.
It was Sunday’s to the Washington Redskins that pushed the Dolphins below the Marlins in win percentage.
And the Dolphins have a lingering problem because their 2019 season has 11 more games to go. So the Dolphins are not done losing to close out their 10-season string.
That likely means the Dolphins, who have already posted a similar losing percentage to the far less-respected Marlins, are likely about to lap the Marlins in the losing department by the time this NFL season ends.
If the Dolphins finish with the dreaded 0-16 record as many fans incredibly are hoping, the team will have authored a .406 winning percentage in its most recent 10-season window.
The Dolphins would blow the Marlins out of water for hopelessness.
The shocking thing about this is the Miami Dolphins were once upon a time the most successful team in all of professional sports.
When the NFL merger happened in 1970 through the 1998 season, the Dolphins had the best record of any pro sports team in America. The club would proudly boast the fact on all its publicity releases and its media guide.
So it is stunning how far the franchise has fallen.
Of course these are numbers and factoids that are outward symptoms of a very serious inward affliction: That the Dolphins have made bad decision after bad decision for decades. And those have manifested in losses on the field.
I’m not going to go through the history of missteps here. Because as everyone knows the Dolphins have in 2019 sold out for a reset.
The team has basically done a Hillary Clinton BleachBit (google it) of their roster and organization. Players were cut or traded or simply not re-signed. The old coach was fired. The old executive vice president of football operations was fired. Lots of familiar names were shown the door.
And now the same owner and same general manager are going to rebuild everything starting in 2020.
Yeah, you know that’s not the end of this piece. You know more is coming ...
While the Dolphins continue to fail in 2019, as planned, the likelihood of success in 2020 becomes important to fans and readers and Mando’s sanity. And I’ve made the point many times the only way to appraise the likelihood of that success is to evaluate past performance.
So this space has examined GM Chris Grier’s past draft performance.
And it has detailed the good and bad from owner Stephen Ross.
And it daily gives a play-by-play account of what moves the coaching staff, led by head coach Brian Flores, is making.
With that latter category in mind, I present a quick overview of some of this staff’s decisions since training camp began. To wit:
We began camp surprisingly with Kalen Ballage as the starting running back. That hasn’t worked out.
We began camp with Charles Harris as a starting linebacker/defensive end. That hasn’t worked.
Bobby McCain was moved from nickel corner to free safety. McCain has been more than solid at his new position so a plus there.
We began camp with Kiko Alonso as a starter and a nickel linebacker. Nope, didn’t fly.
We began camp with Pat Flaherty as the offensive line coach. That apparently didn’t work.
Chris Reed began as the starting left guard. He hasn’t started a game in the regular season even as rookie Michael Deiter has often struggled.
Jordan Mills began camp as the starting right tackle. Nope.
Flores said two days before the regular season began he had a good team. Not correct.
I told Flores before the season I was concerned his team didn’t have enough talent to get pressure on the passer. He said he was not concerned because there are ways to create pass rush with the scheme. The Dolphins are tied for last in the NFL in sacks.
Taco Charlton was claimed off waivers from Dallas. He has two of Miami’s five sacks and leads the team. So a good move there.
Long snapper John Denney was cut after 400 years with the team. This is an incomplete grade because kicker Jason Sanders is 1 of 4 on field goals from 40 yards and beyond and the operation has been off on a couple of those, which has affected Sanders. So stay tuned.
Flores picked Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starting quarterback the first two games. Good call.
He picked Josh Rosen as his starter the last three weeks. Correct again.
He said last week the quarterback competition is “settled,” meaning the job stays with Rosen. Not sure that’s going to be the case but cannot say that is right or wrong yet.
The team stuck with Mark Walton through his uncomfortable legal proceedings, in hopes he could contribute. Correct, so far.
Sam Eguavoen was the find of training camp and displaced Raekwon McMillan from his starting job during camp and into the regular season. Well, McMillan is back to starting now, even ahead of Equavoen in the last game. So, well, you know.
Flores played eight Jay-Z songs in a row during a practice to “motivate” Kenny Stills. Rookie coach mistake.
Flores had somebody paint a giant “TNT” sign on a wall adjacent to the practice facility and made players run to it if they did things that “Takes No Talent,” like jump offsides or false start or make other mental mistakes. I cringed. But the Dolphins are the second-least penalized team in the NFL. So he’s got that one right.
Look, a lot of decisions have been made by this coaching staff so far. Coaches put guys in and took them out of the lineup because they had expectations of how the decision would work. Some of those moves worked. Many did not.
There have been other decisions made that don’t affect personnel but rather are about philosophical approach. Some worked. Some did not
The bottom line? These guys have to do better to catch the Marlins.