Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Reggie Bush was thought by some Dolphins sportswriters to be a key piece of the puzzle to solving the Dolphins woes. Instead, in one quote he summed up the Dolphins and all of the players on the team.
“This is all we could do when we had two weeks to prepare,” Bush told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We should be ashamed of ourselves.”
But that effectively sums up the entire Miami Dolphins organization, pathetic. It starts at the top and works its way down to every player at every position on the team. Unfortunately, the decline started years ago.
It can be traced back to Dave Wannstedt’s four-year tenure and it’s been completed with miserable years under Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, and now Tony Sparano.
Since 2000, the Dolphins have put together an 86-94 record; and the biggest source of complete failure with the Dolphins isn’t just the coaching; it’s also a complete ineptitude at scouting and drafting quality players.
Under Jeff Ireland’s watch, which doesn’t include 2008-2009 when Bill Parcells was still influencing decisions, he’s drafted a total of one player who has made any sort of impact to the lineup, Mike Pouncey.
Past Pouncey, Ireland’s missed on Jared Odrick, John Jerry, A.J. Edds, Nolan Carroll, Chris McCoy, Austin Spitler, Frank Kearse, Charles Clay, Koa Misi, and Edmond Gates. The jury is still out on Daniel Thomas.
But Ireland’s ineptitude is not alone.
Looking back at the Dolphins drafts since 2000, the first round has become an annual right of failure for the Fins. In three separate drafts, the team had no first round pick. In other years, the team may as well have not had a draft.
Here’s who the Fins have drafted since 2000 in the first round: Jamar Fletcher, Vernon Carey, Ronnie Brown, Jason Allen, Ted Ginn, Jr., Jake Long, Vontae Davis, Jared Odrick, and Mike Pouncey.
Outside of Long and maybe Davis and Pouncey, the rest of the picks were wasted. And in a league driven by quarterbacks for the last decade, the Fins have selected none.
Instead, the front office has decided to start the following quarterbacks for the team since 2000: Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, and Matt Moore.
The only quarterback on that list worth more than a seventh round pick was Pennington who was at the end of his career by the time the Dolphins got him in 2008.
Even worse, the Dolphins have ranked in the top 10 in scoring in the NFL just once since 1995, which coincidentally was Don Shula’s final year as coach of the Fins.
All of that has come to a head in 2011 with a team that has simply given up on winning and is content in collecting ridiculous paychecks from owner Stephen Ross.
In Monday night’s game against the Jets, Brandon Marshall dropped his fifth touchdown pass of the season and fell out of bounds after getting hit by a passing gnat. The Fins couldn’t rush the quarterback, collect a turnover, or even hang on to the football.
All of it has put the Dolphins at the top of leaderboard in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes, which is typical for a failed franchise like the Fins. The biggest loser in all of it isn’t the team, the players, or the owners, it’s the fans.
For years the Fins have taken South Florida fans for granted and rested on their laurels believing that fans would come back no matter how bad the product on the field had become.
But a funny thing happened on the way to this season, the Miami Heat. When the Heat set their franchise up with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, South Florida fans clamored for a winner and had one.
The Dolphins response to this was to sit on the sidelines and let every great player slip right through their fingers and just expect fans to come back to the team no matter what. The Fins even raised ticket prices during the Great Recession to watch a bad team.
Add all of that together and you can see why the Dolphins have to honor the Florida Gators football team and thank their lucky stars Tim Tebow will start against the Fins for that game in order to sell out a home game.
Tuesday morning, 790 The Ticket’s Jorge Sedano summed up the franchise about as well as any fan can right now saying the franchise, “needs an enema.”