This past weekend officially kicked off the Miami Dolphins' offseason. You didn't already know that? Hey, it happens every year when the playoffs begin. That's just a fact of life.
The Fins' 6-10 season was a bust from the start. Fans knew it was done when Ryan Tannehill was lost before the team even had its first real practice. Some hoped Jay Cutler could step right in, but they were deluding themselves.
Quarterback success and so much more didn't happen for the Dolphins. Now they're back to square one, preparing for next season while other teams still have a month of football left.
Here are a few rules the Dolphins should follow this offseason if they hope to win their first playoff game since Bill Clinton was president.
5. Stop outsmarting yourselves and take the best available player in the draft. Too often, the Dolphins have passed on the best available player in the NFL Draft in favor of the player they thought was the best available player at the specific position they were looking to fill: That's a recipe for long-term mediocrity. This time around, the Dolphins should be looking to add a player, regardless of position, that has the best chance at being elite — like All-Pro elite.
For instance, if Florida State defensive back Derwin James is available in the 11th round when the Dolphins pick, it should take them no more than a minute to get to the podium to announce his name. It doesn't matter if Miami has two offensive linemen returning; James has a much better chance of making the Dolphins better than any offensive guard ever will.
4. Devise an actual backup plan at the quarterback position. No, Matt Moore does not count. If the Dolphins are going to enter 2018 with Tannehill as the starting quarterback, they need to be prepared for the worst. And if the worst happens, they need to understand another season lost for Tannehill due to a knee injury likely means the end of his career in Miami.
Being prepared for that scenario means looking for his replacement a year early in the draft. If Tannehill is lost for the season, at least fans will get a heaping helping of the future, not another season of Moore doing his best to get the Fins five wins.
Ten games of Lamar Jackson or Baker Mayfield would be worth watching if all hell breaks loose. The Dolphins should have that plan in their back pocket.
3. No more expensive deals for aging free agents. There shouldn't be a Lawrence Timmons this season. There shouldn't even be a Kiko Alonso. There definitely shouldn't be another bank-breaking Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins need to build for the long term the right way. They aren't even close to a competitor. Anyone who tells you different is a homer. The Dolphins are 25, not five, players away.
This offseason, the Fins need to draft smart and come up with an even smarter free-agency strategy. They should cut ties with Suh, who will be paid like an elite quarterback the next two seasons. Moves to save money and build for the future make more sense than overpaying another free agent who is on his last legs.
2. Stephen Ross needs to let Adam Gase know he will be held accountable in 2018. Adam Gase was considered a savior in 2016 when he turned a 1-4 start into a 10-6 playoff appearance. He could do no wrong — until he did. In 2017, Gase and his coaching staff were a complete bust.
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Outside of one coach snorting cocaine at work, the product was a mess. And this offseason, we've already seen a couple of coaches replaced. Gase, though, seems to be immune to criticism. He needs to be held responsible in 2018, not from fans or the media, but from his team's owner and those who make the decisions. Gase came to Miami with no head-coaching experience and a resumé built on the back of Peyton Manning.
If 2018 looks anything like 2017, Gase deserves the hook, because the Dolphins likely got fooled. Gase should enter next season knowing his shit does indeed stink. He should lose the smug media sessions and penchant for a lack of accountability.
1. Figure out a way to be more explosive on offense. The Dolphins went into the 2017 season with some pretty impressive weapons, but once again, they somehow figured out a way to screw it all up. This offseason, the team needs to pull its offense into 2018. A great start would be to formulate an offseason plan that makes installing lightning-in-a-bottle wide receiver Jakeem Grant a priority. After that, the team just needs to get all-around more creative on offense.
Let's hope the return of Tannehill will make the chore of modernizing the offense a lot easier. The Dolphins can't rely on that fact, though, and need to make backup plans now, not midseason.