Barry Jackson

NFL executive-turned-ESPN analyst highly critical of Dolphins

ESPN is stuck with a Dolphins-Patriots game next Monday night that they hope is far more competitive than Miami’s most recent Monday night appearance, a 45-21 drubbing by Carolina last month.

And Louis Riddick, the most prominent former NFL executive on ESPN’s staff, suggests Dolphins fans should be fed up with what they’re witnessing year after year, though the struggles long predate this current regime.

“They keep spinning their wheels,” Riddick said by phone. “Going into the offseason every year, selling hope to their fans gets tiring. When you have the same team saying the same thing year after year, it gets tiring. It’s like, ‘Next!’

“[With the Dolphins], there is something going on with your player acquisition process that isn’t working. You can make all the excuses you want. It’s not working.”

Riddick, a former NFL safety and former director of pro personnel for the Eagles and Redskins, said the onus is now partly on owner Stephen Ross to decide how to fix this.

“That’s a decision the owner has to make on whether that team is making real tangible progress and if not, who’s responsible,” Riddick said. “The proof is on tape. That team really does lack consistent competitive character and it looks that way on tape and judging by the way the coach has to do things to get their attention and shake things up and say, ‘We stink, we’re awful’ [after the Baltimore loss] – something is wrong.”

Riddick was appalled watching the Carolina game.

“There is something wrong with that defense and the line on both sides of the ball,” he said. “No team should run the ball down your throat like Carolina did. There are high priced physically talented people getting whipped on that front. It looks like the Dolphins aren’t even trying. That’s disappointing.”

Though coach Adam Gase again last week defended the effort of his players, Riddick is skeptical and said the organization must truthfully answer these questions: “Are we bringing the right kind of guys in here? Do we have the guys who are really invested in here in being the type of team that doesn’t need Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to retire before becoming relevant? That’s assuming they want to win division titles.

“When your head coach is shipping guys out two years in a row [offensive linemen last year, Jay Ajayi this year] trying to get people who care and who really pay attention to details, when you are doing that year after year, that’s a problem.”

Riddick said “I understand Ryan Tannehill got hurt” but that the Dolphins braintrust simply “needs to start hitting” on more personnel moves.

“Somewhere in that tripod, something is not working,” he said. “The mix is not right. Something along the line is breaking down, whether communicating with players or getting them to play or acquiring players or scouting or evaluation, something is off. At the top of the organization, they have to figure out what the hell it is. Other teams have figured it out.

“It’s not Belichick has Brady [that Miami can use as an excuse]. It’s more than that. The level of accountability in the NFL needs to be at its highest level ever. There are young coaches quickly turning around their franchises, like [the Rams’] Sean McVay.”

It looked like Gase would do that after finishing 10-6 and making the playoffs in his first year, but Miami clearly has regressed to the level of the previous seven years, when it won between six and eight games each of those seasons.

Ross is expected to retain Gase, general manager Chris Grier and executive vice president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum in their current roles, from what we’re hearing.

And though mistakes have been made, I agree they deserve another year because these three have been working together for just 22 months and that included this ongoing debacle but also a playoff season.

The blame for mistakes on this roster can be shared among them. All three collectively make offseason personnel decisions on veterans, with Grier taking the lead on the draft and Gase controlling the 53-man roster once camp begins. But no offensive player is brought here that Gase doesn’t want.

Here’s my Saturday morning six-pack of Dolphins nuggets, including roster moves, a star player ready to change positions if needed in an emergency on Sunday and a player speaking of an interesting internal incentive for turnovers.

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