When a team goes 1-15 in a season, besides from being a mortal lock for the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft, they don’t have much going for them. The chemistry can’t be good after so many losses and even if the team is successful in filling it’s many weaknesses, it’s still very unlikely they’ll approach .500 the next year. In essence, if you’re a Dolphins fan, don’t bank on a playoff bid in 2008, barring an absolute miracle season for the ages. Sorry.
With that said, the good news is that the Dolphins have just the man in place for the massive rebuilding project: Bill Parcells. Say what you want about the man (and many people have) but he does have skill in turning teams from worst to first. Or at least worst to almost first. Sure, he hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1990 (I was... four) -- but he’s had some successful rebuilding projects in his coaching career and he is to thank for much of the Cowboys recent stature as a league powerhouse. Here’s a list of the teams Parcells has taken over, their record the year prior to him taking over, followed by their records the three years after he became 'the boss'.
1982 (Perkins): 4-5
1983 (Parcells): 3-12-1
1984 (Parcells): 9-7 (made playoffs)
1985 (Parcells): 10-6 (made playoffs)
1992 (MacPherson): 2-14
1993 (Parcells): 5-11
1994 (Parcells): 10-6 (made playoffs)
1995 (Parcells): 6-10
1996 (Kotite): 1-15
1997 (Parcells): 9-7
1998 (Parcells): 12-4 (made playoffs)
1999 (Parcells): 8-8
2002 (Campo): 5-11
2003 (Parcells): 10-6 (made playoffs)
2004 (Parcells): 6-10
2005 (Parcells): 9-7
The conclusion we can draw from this data? Disregarding playoff appearances (although he made the postseason at least once with each team he took over within two years) it is safe to say that Bill Parcells taking over horrible teams has a dramatic effect. None of them won Super Bowls, save for his Giants days -- but the teams all had drastic turnarounds thanks to his coaching and personnel decisions.
Whether or not the Dolphins will stay with John Beck as their future QB remains to be seen. He didn’t look good in his five games last season, but I’m going to continue to practice what I preach and say the Dolphins need to wait a bit before they decide if he’s not for them. Still, though, if Beck plays like he did last year the Dolphins QB situation is dire. Trent Green was serviceable last year until his career was ended by another concussion.
Josh McCown was brought in in the off season and looks to the leader for the starting job going into the 2008 season. Again, the Dolphins QB situation is dire.
A bright spot on the Dolphins (and my fantasy team) for next year is Ronnie Brown. Before going down with an injury in Week 7, Brown was tearing it up, rushing for 602 yards on 119 attempts and 4 TD’s. Had he not gotten injured, the Dolphins very well could have won 3-4 games, something that more or less would have meant absolutely nothing, other than possibly dropping them out of the first overall selection.
Chris Chambers was traded to the Chargers in mid-season last year for a second round pick, leaving Ted Ginn Jr. as the team’s projected number one receiver in 2008. Ginn is regarded as one of the biggest busts of the 2007 draft. Did I say the Dolphins QB situation was dire? I meant the majority of the team.
Luckily for the Dolphins, they have a total of nine selections in the 2008 NFL Draft. These include the number one overall selection, two picks in rounds two, six and seven and one pick in round three. While Parcells' draft history isn’t the best in the league, he’s still a good judge of talent and any type of talent will help this team.
The number one selection has been the subject of much controversy over the last couple of months. Some have said the Dolphins will take Glenn Dorsey, then it was Jake Long, Chris Long, Matt Ryan -- and some have said they would trade out of it. I subscribe to the belief that they will take Chris Long because he just seems like a right fit for a Parcells run team. But even if they take Jake Long, they’re still getting a great player -- they can’t really go wrong either way. As we learned from the 2006 draft, anything can happen with the first pick (See: Mario Williams over Reggie Bush). So it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins do what everyone thinks they're going to do and take a sure thing, or take a gamble and select someone that their scouting department thinks is the best player available at number one. Vernon Gholston anyone?
Rumor has it that defensive end Jason Taylor wants out of Miami and Parcells sure as hell won’t keep him around if he has too. Don’t be surprised if Taylor is involved in a draft day trade, especially considering his appearance on Dancing with the Stars. I'm sure the Tuna was pissed about that one.
The Dolphins defensive unit, who was once regarded one of the best in the league, finished 23rd overall last year. The passing defense was actually quite good, finishing 4th, while the rushing defense lived up to the offenses horrendous performances and finished last in the league. This is a major reason why I think the Dolphins will take Chris Long over Jake Long -- it would just make sense due to their weaknesses. Again, Gholston anyone?
Another desperate need for the Dolphins was wide receiver and they attempted to remedy this with the signing of Earnest Wilford. He’s nothing special, but anything will help the receiving corps at this point and Wilford is definitely not a liability. He’ll just need a decent QB to throw him the ball, that’s all.
After last year’s 1-15 finish, it’s a perfect time to bust out the saying: ‘Things can’t really get any worse.’ That at least hinges on the Dolphins not finishing 0-16 next season and honestly, that’s not going to happen. Really though, things can’t get any worse. No one is really expecting a 9-7 or 10-6 season from this team next year and if it happens, hey, all the power to them and all the Cinderella excitement for us. But hopefully, Dolphins fans realize that this is a rebuilding process and unfortunately the upcoming year is the bridge to eventual success.
But look on the bright side: The Dolphins have nine picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. It’s a certainty that many of those rookies will provide bright spots next year and perhaps show a preview of what’s to come. Some have said that the 2007 Dolphins were one of the worst teams to have ever played in the NFL and one could definitely make the case for this. But at least they have the tools and now with Parcells in the front office, the personnel to get this historic franchise on the right track and back to it’s winning ways.
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