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DeFranks: Disastrous Dolphins (Oct. 4)

Matt DeFranks | Monday, October 3, 2011

If you took a potty-training baby, put it in one of those “Hoarders” houses and threw a raging party before crashing a Hummer into a Civic in the driveway, you would have a mess.

And then you have the Miami Dolphins.

Fresh off a 26-16 loss in San Diego, Miami has now dropped its opening four games and seven in a row dating back to last season. The Dolphins have not won more than two consecutive games since 2008, when they won the AFC East title in coach Tony Sparano’s first year.

2008 was a strange year for the Dolphins. They came off a 1-15 season, welcomed a new coach, faced an easy schedule and conditioned a new veteran quarterback.

The Phins finished 11-5, winning seven games by less than seven points before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs to Baltimore. A playoff season should always be commended but that season was a bit fluky, as the past couple years have shown.

Why do I bring up the one good season in recent Dolphins history? Because it is Sparano’s crowning achievement in an otherwise underwhelming tenure.

Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross agrees — but maybe not whole-heartedly. In January, Ross traveled to California to try to woo former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh to replace Sparano at Miami. Ross’ recruiting pitch was ultimately not good enough (Harbaugh now coaches the 49ers), or private enough.

The West coast trip was front page news on the Miami Herald, a lead story on SportsCenter and a poorly kept secret. Whispers began to amplify and rumors continued to swirl. But Sparano survived that swell. Whether or not he survives the possible oncoming tidal wave, however, is yet to be seen.

Not like Ross cares, either. He is too busy tracking down celebrity part owners (like Gloria Estefan and the Williams sisters), putting a night club in Sun Life Stadium and “enhancing the fan experience” to truly worry about his on-the-field product.

Not only did the Dolphins blatantly look for a new coach, but they also searched for a replacement to take over Chad Henne’s quarterbacking duties. The big prize? Kyle Orton, of zero postseason starts. When you want Orton to be your top quarterback, you are in trouble (see: Broncos, Denver, 2010).

But still, management tried and tried and tried to land Orton and fans at training camp chanted for him. However, Miami could not even snag a quarterback with just one season and a completion percentage over 60.

Even worse is that Henne was injured during the loss to the Chargers, leaving Miami with Matt Moore as its primary quarterback. But maybe help is on the way.

The Phins with no wins look like big contenders in the Suck for Luck 2012 campaign. One of few 0-4 teams remaining, Miami is in a prime position to grab the number one overall pick, presumably Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Miami’s last top pick, offensive tackle Jake Long, has blossomed into a Pro Bowler. Dolphins fans can only hope Luck can do the same.

If you took an embattled, overmatched coach, put him in a franchise nearly 40 years removed from their last championship with a disconnected owner, shopped around for a new coach and new quarterback before losing four straight games to open the season, you have a disaster. Welcome to the Miami Dolphins franchise.

At least part owners Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are still together. Oh, wait, looks like the Dolphins really are a wreck.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Matt DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu