Former Miami Dolphins coach Bill Parcells has a famous saying about football teams trying to rationalize their efforts in wins or losses: "You are what your record says you are." People lie, but the record doesn't lie. Excuses be damned — nobody will remember that the Dolphins almost beat the Washington Redskins this year. It goes down as a big fat loss.
History will not look kindly upon the 2019 Dolphins when it comes to wins and losses. After this past Sunday's defeat to the New York Jets, the Fins are 3-10. That's who they are until next week. It's been a bad season.
It wasn't all bad, though. Some good actually came from a season full of intentional ass-kickings, salary cap dumps, and injuries.
“I think Brian Flores should be coach of the year”@Foxworth24 says he owes Chris Grier, Brian Flores and the Dolphins roster an apology because of the way they’ve overachieved this season. pic.twitter.com/7PQdczZAP4— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) December 4, 2019
1. Brian Flores has proven he's up to the challenge of being an NFL head coach. Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was never going to be judged by the team's record heading into a season that everyone expected to be horrific regardless of whether an ex-Patriots defensive coordinator or Don Shula was coaching. But living the nightmare that is a double-digit-loss season tends to be hard to forget. Nobody was coaching this Dolphins squad to a playoff appearance.
After a pair of historically brutal 59-10 and 43-0 losses and a 0-7 start to the season, garnering any praise for his first stab at being a head coach looked pretty bleak for Flores. But somehow that has happened in the past few weeks as the Dolphins continue to compete even as their roster churns into a fine powder of nothingness. Flores stood in the eye of the storm through all of those early losses, regrouped, and eventually, it seems, won over the locker room and earned the respect of Dolphins players.
The Dolphins compete each and every week even when it doesn't make any sense. That's the sign of a coach who knows how to get more from less.
2. The Dolphins stole former first-round pick Taco Charlton from the Cowboys. Defensive end Taco Charlton is 25 years old and is playing just his third NFL season after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 28th pick of the 2017 draft. For whatever reason, the Cowboys gave up on him, so now he's with the Dolphins, where he's thriving.
Entering last Sunday's game, Charlton had five sacks with the Dolphins since being acquired in Week 3. He has earned not only a roster spot but also a starting role on a defense begging for playmakers to emerge. Scoring a recent first-round pick for free almost never happens in the NFL unless law enforcement and/or drugs are involved. Charlton has had no issues in Miami, and he's likely to be a solid piece of the team's rebuilding efforts.
3. The Dolphins gave DeVante Parker a "prove it" contract before the season, and he has delivered. It seems like forever since the Dolphins took DeVante Parker with their first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Until this season, Parker has been plagued with injuries and subpar efforts that put him in the doghouse with past coaches. Prior to 2019, the Dolphins, rather surprisingly to most, re-signed Parker to a team-friendly two-year, $10 million deal.
Though Parker had some success this season, his seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns in the 37-31 victory against the Eagles blew the doors off his season, which is sure to land him a great contract this offseason. Parker is now a lock to have more than 1,000 receiving yards this season, and he's already bested his career record for touchdown catches.
The Dolphins have a clear number one wideout to rebuild with if they choose to pay Parker this offseason. At this point, that seems likely.
4. The Dolphins actually entertained at times, which wasn't expected. A season when a team has nothing to lose inevitably sees many "screw it" moments, when plays are called that would have otherwise not happened. The Dolphins had quite a few of those moments this season. Between going for two to beat the Redskins instead of kicking a field goal to tie, and the extraordinary punter-to-kicker touchdown against the Eagles pictured above, the Dolphins entertained more this season than they did at times in 7-9 seasons.
The Fins never quit this season and continued to put on a show even when it was clear they should pack it up. Not bad for a team expected to lose on purpose.
5. Dolphins fans stick around for some reason. Being pissed off at your sports team to the point you're breaking TV sets and burning jerseys is actually not the worst sign fans can give when their team is terrible; the worst sign is apathy. For years, the Miami Marlins experienced this. After a while, Marlins fans crossed the red line into a white-noise-like place where nothing mattered and seasons passed without much notice.
Dolphins fans, though frustrated and angry with a double-digit-loss season, never checked out. Hard Rock Stadium was, for the most part, filled most games. The majority of Dolphins fans would likely say they are more invested in the franchise's future than they are in this week's game against the New York Giants.
Dolphins fans more than stick around: They're on social media debating the greatest way to move forward. A lot of other fan bases would have used their Sundays for something else.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.