Mercifully, Thursday night's 16-13 preseason win against the New Orleans Saints was the Miami Dolphins' final tuneup before the new-look squad kicks off the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium September 8. With the majority of the team's projected starters and difference-makers sitting out the preseason finale, little was learned about the Dolphins outside of who will occupy their 47th through 53rd roster spots. The biggest news of the night actually came after the game, when the team named Ryan Fitzpatrick its starting quarterback heading into week one.
Over the past month, however, fans learned a bit more about which direction the Dolphins' new regime, led by head coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier, plans to go. It became slightly clearer who the Dolphins are trying to be moving forward and what they're all about.
It's early, but consider us unimpressed. So far, the new Dolphins look a lot like the old Dolphins, from a general-franchise philosophy and in-the-news-for-the-wrong-reasons standpoint.
From the very public spat between owner Stephen Ross and wide receiver Kenny Stills over Ross' support of President Donald Trump, to the team's handling of the quarterback competition between Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, to the current rumored pursuit of a trade for Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the Dolphins have botched the preseason in ways that are undeniable errors.
No injuries occurred. Nothing football-related went wrong. Everything that has happened over the past month could have and should have been handled differently, and now the Dolphins are beginning a season that is sure to be long, including few wins and many fans with a sour taste in their mouths — not ideal.
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Last night, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported that if the Dolphins include left tackle Laremy Tunsil in a trade to the Texans, there will be a full-on revolt in the locker room. This comes after the Dolphins have been coy about whether Stills, their best offensive player and team leader, will even be on the roster come week one, all because he dared to speak up about Ross.
In other words, the Dolphins are doing Dolphins-y stuff off the field. They were on TMZ and Good Morning America in August. That's never a good sign.
The team has also flubbed the "QB competition" between Rosen and Fitzpatrick. Rosen — a man the Dolphins felt so strongly about they spent second- and fifth-round picks on him a few months ago — has largely outplayed Fitzpatrick. To put the two quarterbacks' preseason performances in poker terms, Rosen has played every hand, while Fitzpatrick has continued to fold in the hopes Rosen loses all of his money, thus crowning Fitzpatrick the winner. Even so, it seems Fitzpatrick will start against the Baltimore Ravens in week one. It's anyone's guess as to why, but we assume it has something to do with "protecting Rosen" or "letting him learn," which makes no sense because Rosen has a full year of starting under his belt in Arizona and has clearly been the man who should be teaching Fitzpatrick a thing or two about making big throws.
All in all, this preseason has looked, felt, and smelled all too familiar to Dolphins fans: puzzling moves, embarrassing off-the-field story lines, and terrible coaching decisions. It's early, but the Dolphins' preseason performance deserves a failing grade.