By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303
Every fall as the college football season comes to a close, all eyes turn to the NFL draft. Fans start their mocks, NFL teams start to prepare their boards. The Mel Kiper wannabes come out in droves. Fans begin their banter as to why their respective team should pick this player.
Flashback to January 7, 2019. The day of the 2019 College National Championship game. Clemson, behind true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and Alabama lead by sophomore sensation, QB Tua Tagovailoa. I bring this game up because I believe this is where it all began.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, scouts and fans had already begun to focus on these two starting quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa will be eligible for the 2020 NFL draft, while the other, Trevor Lawrence, will have to wait for eligibility in 2021. Per scouts and fans alike, both these college quarterbacks clearly have “Franchise” written all over them.
Fast forward to the 2019 Miami Dolphins training camp. Under new head coach Brian Flores, Miami had recently parted ways with their former number one pick, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, while also parting ways with several other fan-favorite players. They were clearly paving the way for a rebuild. Fans and media immediately set their sights on a franchise quarterback, especially a certain one that might declare for the NFL draft.
One of the local Dolphins beat writers decided to have a little fun, much like the “Suck for Luck” campaign. Posting on all the social media outlets that the Dolphins could hold a “Tank for Tua” campaign. Thus bringing us to where we are today.
Following a disastrous 0-2 start to the season, many fans started to believe the Dolphins were doing just that. Having traded two former number 1 picks in tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins began to stockpile draft picks. As if dropping two games by double digits wasn’t enough, Fitzpatrick demanded a trade, which promptly sent fans into a frenzy.
This prompted former NFLPA Domonique Foxworth to call for a league review. “It’s unethical and morally reprehensible, as far as I’m concerned. Because we understand how dangerous football is as a game. Putting guys out there in this kind of danger is a problem,” said Foxworth.
This made me ask…are these 53 guys on the roster high school players? When did it become unethical to play football? Every player on this roster is a professional, employed by the Miami Dolphins, who are in a restructuring period.
One thing that still remains true to this day, to start a rebuild you must first lay down the foundation, starting with the NFL draft.
I talked with my good friend Michelle Jinx who understands and went through a similar process back with the Dallas Cowboys. I thought she could give some perspective.
Michelle: Unlike many Cowboys fans, I was happy. Herschel was one of the greatest running backs coming out of college, but he went to the USFL instead of playing in the NFL. He was a good back but I didn’t think he was still the same back coming out of Georgia. I also didn’t think that having him was improving our team. He was the only player of value that we could trade so it made sense to me.
Lisa: Jimmy stripped the Cowboys and you went through a first rough season. What would you say was the hardest part?
Michelle: Let me first say that I believed in Jimmy Johnson. As a Miami Hurricanes fan, I trusted him to make the Cowboys better. The hardest part was, of course, was waiting for that to happen. I loved Tom Landry and his last season with the Cowboys was draining. Then we hire a savior and go 1-15. Troy Aikman looked horrible his rookie season, the team didn’t have the talent. But once we got the trade and the picks, you knew it was just a matter of time.
Lisa: When the draft rolled around, having all those picks, did you have confidence that they would draft smart?
Michelle: Absolutely. It starts with management. Despite my feelings about Jerry Jones and the way he terminated our legendary coach (Tom Landry), I felt the Johnson hire was a great hire. Jimmy had a plan and I knew without a doubt he would build a championship roster. Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Russell Maryland. Enough said.
This will take time. Fans need to understand that this is a process. A process that hopefully will get us out of years of mediocracy. As for me… I am ready for that.
Talk Dolphins with Lisa on Twitter @LJ1303