ESPN analysts trashed the Dolphins before their only national TV appearance of the year, questioning the morality of the franchise’s approach of bottoming out this season with the goal of finding a quarterback high in the draft.
“You put peoples’ health at risk,” ESPN studio analyst and former Super Bowl winning quarterback Steve Young said. “This is not baseball or basketball. You can tank in basketball. Nobody is getting hurt. In football you, get hurt. What the Miami Dolphins have done this year is put people at risk physically and it’s not right. You can’t be so irresponsible to peoples’ health. It’s not right.”
Young, growing increasingly agitated, said: “You can’t waste a year because you have to go face the Steelers. The GM can be in the back room and the the plan might be we can get a lot of young players we don’t have to pay for the next four or five years. Let’s make a Super Bowl run and get a quarterback out of it. OK, that’s the plan.”
ESPN analyst and former All Pro receiver Randy Moss said: “It’s kind of sad. What about guys in the locker-room who want to compete every Sunday?”
ESPN analyst and former Eagles executive Louis Riddick said:
“Can a team go all in without respecting the present? They’re doing it. I don’t think there’s any other way to classify what they’re doing. Players don’t ask to leave organizations. Players wouldn’t ask to leave South Florida unless there’s something that is much bigger than what you can possibly get your mind around, and a feeling within the locker room of, ‘look, we’re not trying to win here.’
“I’m not playing the most dangerous American sport there is, team sport, and we’re not trying to win. I can’t really get behind that competitively and football character wise. It’s unfortunate, because there are a lot of good players who can get chewed up in that kind of thing if you can’t get out. Organizationally, you might as well just waste this year.
“You know you don’t have the backing organizationally.They’re not really supporting you; they’re saying they are. They say we want you to win, but we’re not giving you all the tools.As you’re accumulating all these picks, there’s still a season to be played, a lot of meetings going on, there’s a lot of practices, a lot of people spending time away from their families,... a lot of people treating injuries and going through games and getting busted up. You are basically sending a message saying we’re not trying to have you be successful this year.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter chimed in: “Everybody [inside the Dolphins] has a different goal. Front office goal is get as many picks as you can for the future. The players are trying to win and it puts them in a tough spot... How many times did the Browns have all these picks and it went nowhere?”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa still ranks No. 1 among quarterback prospects in this draft but that LSU’s Joe Burrow is gaining on him. Those teams meet Nov. 9; Tagovailoa is expected to return from an ankle injury by that game.
“The ankle clouds it a bit,” Kiper said of Tagovailoa. “You would like to see him come back hopefully against LSU. Up until this point, we know what he is: He’s a precise, accurate passer, one of the most precise passers to come out in recent memory. But he’s not 6-3, has had those back to back ankle injuries, doesn’t have [a cannon] for an arm.
“That’s allowed a quarterback like Joe Burrow [to rise]. Burrow has ascended way up the board, reminds me a lot of Tony Romo with his delivery and the way he manipulates the pocket. Burrow all of a sudden is a top 10 guy, as is [Oregon’s] Justin Herbert, who’s got unique talent. Physical and athletic prowess, he has it. Got the big time arm, would like to see a little more consistency, that wow moment that defines him as a potential top five pick come late April.”