Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero: Mediocre Miami Dolphins need an extreme makeover

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reacts in the fourth quarter during Miami’s 31-24 loss to the New York Giants at Sun Life Stadium on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reacts in the fourth quarter during Miami’s 31-24 loss to the New York Giants at Sun Life Stadium on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Let’s start with this: The Dolphins throwback uniforms the team wore on national television Monday night are better than the current ones. So the team should waive the new duds and simply upgrade to the days-of-yore threads.

Not that the team is asking my opinion or your opinion, but if they do conduct some sort of public survey, my guess is the vote would overwhelmingly be in favor of the uniform that harkens to the pre-Super Bowl 1960s when the franchise was new, the future was bright, and fans had hope for what might be coming.

And what’s wrong with giving off a vibe for a bright and hopeful future?

Barring that cosmetic change, however, maybe these 21st century Dolphins could do something more fundamentally important to remind us of their 1960-70s counterparts such as …

Scrap this offense.

Upgrade the coaching staff.

Find a good middle linebacker.

Add a safety.

And better guards.

Hire another cornerback or two.

Re-sign Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon.

Let Ryan Tannehill continue growing.

And let that mixture germinate for a couple of years while this (mostly) young collection of talent blossoms into a better than mediocre football team.

I know, better-than-mediocre team is not synonymous with championship team. But the late ’60s team took baby steps en route to that perfect season. I remind you new coach Don Shula first got the team to the playoffs, then the Super Bowl, than that Super Bowl VII title in the perfect season.

So these latter day Dolphins are going to be something of a project the next couple of years after a dozen years of mediocrity. But the situation is not hopeless.

First thing you do is forget Monday night’s 31-24 loss to the New York Giants.

Miami Herald sportswriter Adam H. Beasley reacts to the Miami Dolphins' 31-24 loss to the New York Giants at Sun Life Stadium.

The Giants are not a true measure of whether the Dolphins are good or bad because the Giants are just as troubled as Miami. And for much of this game while the teams traded touchdowns it seemed like two tomato cans were merely trading blows.

So forget Monday night as having accomplished nothing we didn’t already know. These Dolphins are not a playoff team and they were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention by this loss.

Breaking news.

Concentrate instead on the next time the Dolphins play on Monday night. Or in any prime time game.

Concentrate on what has to happen between now so that Miami can actually be representative of a glorious past instead of just pay lip service to it like has been the case for far too long.

The Dolphins have spent a lot of money on their defense, with highly paid players in Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones and Cameron Wake and Brent Grimes and despite that investment, this unit needs overhaul.

This team cannot stop an elite quarterback and if you do not believe that look what Eli Manning did. He missed only four of 31 passes on a night he was often flinging it deep.

Brent Grimes struggled. And when rookie Bobby McCain left the game, Jamar Taylor had a hand in a blown coverage with Jones, who bit on a post route, and the duo gave up an 84-yard touchdown.

The NFL is a passing league, folks, and the Dolphins pass defense is suspect. And the fact Grimes isn’t the same player he’s been in the past is worrisome.

So the Dolphins need a couple of starting caliber cornerbacks.

The team also needs a middle linebacker in the worst way. It has been filling the position on the cheap for years. How much longer must this go on?

The Dolphins know they have issues at defensive end as well if they do not re-sign Vernon. It’s going to be expensive but with Wake about to hit 34 years old, Miami really has no choice but to pay Vernon.

The amazing thing about all that is that if it seems the defense needs a major overhaul, it is the offense that’s a bigger issue. Again, forget Monday night and the 24 points. The Giants defense is bad — as in 32nd in the NFL against the pass bad.

For years, it seems, the Dolphins have allowed themselves to rest their offensive line hopes on players who have never been consistently good. How long must this continue? How long will Dallas Thomas have nights with two penalties and Billy Turner continue to be inconsistent in all he does?

Maybe a new coaching staff can remedy that. But it is clear Joe Philbin’s staff that interim coach Dan Campbell is trying to keep together isn’t the answer.

Maybe Campbell gets promoted — unlikely.

Maybe he does not.

But it says here whomever the Dolphins hire, the decision on that man’s staff are key. The Dolphins need coaches who have done it and done it with success.

Philbin’s staff and the vestiges of it that remain include multiple coaches doing their job on an NFL level for the first time in their careers. That is not a winning formula.

Finally, there’s this idea floating out there Miami needs to replace Ryan Tannehill.

Wrong.

He’s not the problem. Said another way, the Dolphins have to stick with him and see if he can be part of the solution.

It looked like he’s capable throughout much of Monday night’s game. Yes, he missed some throws. But was it his fault receivers dropped six (at last count) passes?

Tannehill under an experienced offensive coordinator who installs a proven NFL offense can be an asset. Indeed, all those moves done right can turn the Dolphins into a team with a future.

Or maybe the Dolphins skip all that hard work and just change uniforms.

Armando Salguero: 305-376-4993, @ArmandoSalguero

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