If you are hoping, maybe even demanding,
that the Miami Dolphins will make a major move to find their next franchise
quarterback, you are likely to be very disappointed.
As things stand today, the odds are very
high that the starter for 2012 will be incumbent Matt Moore. I say incumbent
has clearly taken the starting job away from Chad Henne, which means that Henne
wonít be back.
In the draft, it is well known that the number
of franchise level QBs are just two: Stanfordís Andrew Luck and Heisman winner
Robert Griffin III of Baylor. The Dolphins current draft position (8 or 9,
depending on a coin toss with the Panthers) places them well behind other teams
also in need of a new QB, which means that it would take a mint to move up to
draft either man.
And if youíre hoping for meaningful help in
free agency or via a trade, just remember that franchise caliber QBs donít
usually fall from trees. Drew Brees is a rare example, though no one could have
predicted his rise at the time the Saints signed him (and the Dolphins didnít).
And overpaying on potential, as the Dolphins did with AJ Feeley and Daunte
Culpepper, usually ends up badly for the chump who gives into desperation (as
the Dolphins did).
So for those of you swooning over Packer QB Matt
Flynn's 400+ yard, 6 TD performance yesterday, keep in mind that the Lions have
one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL (23rd). In other words, he looked
better than he probably is. So the Dolphins shouldn't toss major money at him,
or the first/second round pick that the Packers will demand, because the upside
over what they currently have (Moore),
if there is any, may not be worth it (think Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, and Kevin Kolb).
And, please, do not think about an aging
Peyton Manning. The compensation to get him will be just as high, and his long
term football fitness is a serious concern. The Dolphins know this and will hopefully
So back to the draft. Some say the Dolphins
should pay three first rounders, plus players, to move up and get Luck or Griffin. In other words,
do whatever it takes cause Ireland canít be trusted with the picks and the
Dolphins are far better off getting a Ďsure thingí versus another bundle of
The reality of the situation, however, is
that Jeff Ireland is not a bold GM like Atlantaís
Thomas Dimitroff. Iíve met and interviewed Ireland, and I can tell you that he
is a conservative football man who disapproves of high risk moves like the one
Dimitroff pulled to draft WR Julio Jones last April. This is why I believe he
is likely to talk owner Stephen Ross out of any exorbitant attempts to trade up
for Luck or Griffin.
Heíll argue that it isn't worth crippling the franchise for years to come just
to get one player who isnít guaranteed to work out. And, despite the hype, no
player comes to the NFL with a guarantee. No one.
Yet it would be wrong of you to mistake Ireland for a
fool. The man is a survivor and heís got this whole thing figured out. He knows
that Ross wants a new QB, a face to build the franchise around. He has reportedly
mandated this to Ireland.
will continue to play it cool; he will wait until a new coach is hired, persuade
that new coach as to the merits of a safer avenue for long term growth, and
jointly sell that vision to Ross. And Ross will go along with it because he
would look stupid overriding his GM and coach.
This brings us back to Matt Moore. Objectively, his performance over the past
nine games has been very good, even great. What else can one say about 15 TDs
versus just 5 INTs? Every single good player on the team has lauded his work. One
could argue, as I would, that Moore
is the Team MVP for 2011.
How could anyone justify sitting a player of that caliber?
You canít. Moore
is the best QB in the division not named Tom Brady. That is a fact.
Now this does not mean that the Dolphins wonít draft a quarterback. They
should hedge their investment in Moore, in the
event that he returns to earth as Buffaloís
Ryan Fitzpatrick did after getting a fat multi-year contract. And I think Ireland will do
just that so that he and Ross are not criticized for bypassing the position yet
again. But the QB they are more likely to draft will be a lesser talent who may
not end up being any better than Moore.
He may not even be good enough to beat Moore
out next year (or the year thereafter). In the process, the Dolphins will avoid
handing out another fat contract to a rookie, money which Ireland would
rather spend elsewhere.
Again, not the outcome that many of you are hoping for but thatís what I
believe will happen. In fact, the Dolphins are more likely to focus on
upgrading the talent on the offensive line, with three of the draftís Top 10
prospects being much needed tackles (according to Scouts Inc), versus a trade
up for Luck or Griffin.
Itís not sexy but itís the sort of move that would fit the modus operandi
of Jeff Ireland. And it would align perfectly with the argument that says Moore is at his best when
he is afforded protection, which the Dolphins werenít very consistent with this
past season (3rd worst in the NFL in sacks yielded with 52, almost a
So why should people feel any better about the 2012 Dolphins versus the
version of the past three seasons? The answer Ireland
would offer is Moore,
even if it is less than you hoped for.