Barry Jackson

Here’s where the Dolphins now stand with tanking and trying to win

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores talks about his first NFL game as head coach

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores talks about his first NFL game as head coach as they defeat the Atlanta Falcons, August 8, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores talks about his first NFL game as head coach as they defeat the Atlanta Falcons, August 8, 2019.

So if the Dolphins would love to be in position to draft one of the top 2020 quarterbacks next April, why are they making a few personnel moves that suggest they’re trying to win?

For example, why would they sign skilled veterans at receiver (Allen Hurns) and tight end (Dwyane Allen) and acquire a serviceable stopgap quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) instead of simply giving the job to David Fales or Josh Johnson or any random unproven journeyman and then certifiably tanking?

There’s a reason for that. According to a team source, even though owner Stephen Ross would like to land a top QB in the 2020 draft (unless Josh Rosen suddenly blossoms), he does not want this season to be an embarrassment to the extent that his team is historically bad or blown out repeatedly. He especially doesn’t want to be embarrassed in home games.

Because of that, Ross has told the coaches to try to win. He believes if the Dolphins end up with, say, five wins, it’s OK because Miami can trade some of its treasure trove of 2020 draft picks (including two second-, third- and fourth-rounders) to trade up for a quarterback if Rosen doesn’t prove to be the longterm solution.

Even with veteran additions at several positions, it would be shocking if Miami picks outside the top five in the draft because its group of edge rushers, on paper, is among the worst in recent NFL history and the offensive line (beyond Laremy Tunsil) appears substandard... and the quarterback situation isn’t good (unless Rosen improves)... and there are holes at one cornerback spot and tight end and potentially at linebacker.

The problem with this plan would be if quarterback-needy Cincinnati gets the first pick. In that scenario, unless the Bengals agree to trade down, Miami might need to settle for the second-best quarterback in the draft. It could also be problematic for Miami if Tampa Bay stinks and moves on from Jameis Winston.

The belief is that the other potentially bad teams, like Arizona and the Giants, already have invested in young quarterbacks and likely would accept a Dolphins trade offer if either gets the first pick.

But even though the Dolphins don’t want to be historically bad, they aren’t trying to be a contender, either. It was telling that Miami did not pursue any of the defensive ends available the past four months who would be clear upgrades over what they have, such as former UM standout Allen Bailey, who signed with Atlanta.

So they’re OK with being subpar this season as part of a rebuild, but don’t like the idea of being 1-15 bad.

DEPTH CHART

The Dolphins didn’t change anything notable in their depth chart released Monday. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the first-team quarterback, with Josh Rosen second.

Jesse Davis is still the first-team right guard, even though he has played right tackle for two weeks. Jordan Mills is still the first-team right tackle, even though he has not been in that job for two weeks.

Bottom line: Don’t surmise much of anything from the depth chart.

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