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Tua Tagovailoa officially signed with the Dolphins on Monday, and now his number 1 jersey is the league's best selling. It's also the second best. For some reason, fans prefer the aqua away jersey over the white home jersey. I'm guessing that's because very, very few people actually watch the Dolphins when they play at home.

Dol-fans are understandably excited about the new prospect. Why shouldn't they be? He hasn't played a snap yet and he already has to be better than a dozen of the players who have actually lined up under center for the Fins since that aforementioned Marino guy, hallowed by thy name.

Amusing side note: Tua selected the number 1 because his college number, 13, has been retired by the Dolphins for Dan Marino, saints be praised. For the record, I happen to have two Marino jerseys in my closet, one home and one away.

A word of caution: this time last year, the best selling jersey belonged to Baker Mayfield. The year before that, it was Carson Wentz and before that, James Conner. Two of those three have injury issues, and the other is stuck on the perennially worst team in the NFL. In other words, Tua is joining a very questionable group whose performance has never lived up to the hype.

Which is not to say that I'm off the Tua bandwagon. I'm just advising we pump the brakes a little. The Dolphins didn't get to the bottom of the heap by being a great team. So there's still a ways to climb before they get the top of the heap. Win a Super Bowl, guys, and maybe then I'll think about buying some of your merchandise again. In all likelihood, it will be a third Dan Marino jersey, blessed be the fruit of thy loom.

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As a self-proclaimed Dolphins' fan (is there any other kind?), I feel compelled to note the passing of Don Shula, the greatest coach in franchise (and NFL) history.

Shula was still coaching the team when I first became a fan, and I think at the time, I sort of expected him to always be the coach, at least until he no longer could. He was only the second coach in franchise history, and he did go on to coach for 26 years. There have been 11 coaches in the 25 years since he retired, which sort of tells you everything you need to know about the state of the franchise.

Not only was he a great coach, he was a damn fine actor, too.


Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994)

COVID-19, murder hornets, and now Don Shula? Man, 2020 continues to find new ways to suck.

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The Miami Dolphins 2019 season can now be called a success.

Waaay back in January 2019, the Miami Herald reported that team owner Stephen Ross "really likes Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and that getting a high 2020 draft pick is the priority." After winning only 5 of 16 games, the team selected Tua Tagovailoa as the 5th pick in last night's 2020 NFL Draft! Amazing!

Whether or not Tua will translate into actual wins on the NFL gridiron remains to be seen, but I'm not worried. If the Dolphins still suck at actual football in 2020, I'm sure Mr. Ross can find some other way to redefine success.

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I've been wondering how I will remember these dark days when we come out the other side. Travel restrictions, face masks, food shortages.... Frankly, we probably should have experienced it before now. America has been continuously at war with someone or other since 2001, and the public hasn't experienced any hardships like what happened in previous wars. Would we still be in Afghanistan if Americans had to share rolls of toilet paper in 2002?

Waaaaay back in the first week of March, when it became clear to everyone that this Covid-19 thing was going to be a real problem for neo-isolationist America, I rather naively believed that if everyone hunkered down, it would all blow over within two months. What a sucker I was for assuming everyone in the country was taking the plague very, very seriously. Like, prison solitary confinement seriously. However, I failed to take into account that no one can tell an American that they can't enjoy a Big Mac while test-firing their AR-15 inside the church of their choice. 'Merica!

It's now quite obvious that this thing isn't going to be over any time soon. I'm no president, but even I recognize that we can't start to relax restrictions until we know actually who has and who can spread the disease. Two months in, we've managed to test less than one percent of the country. At the current pace, it will take another sixteen years to test the rest. That speed will inevitably accelerate, but by any metric, we're still many months away from where we need to be for resuming what used to pass as "business as usual."

Personally, I'm still terrified that I'll catch the disease and give it to my family. Last month, I broke my piggy bank to renew my UGA football season tickets, but I cannot imagine that I'd attend any of those games if something doesn't drastically change in the next five months. Given the pace of progress, I'm beginning to suspect those games won't be played at all, at least not with fans in the stadium. I don't know what I'll do without football — specifically college football, that is. If the NFL doesn't play this fall, it may be a good excuse for me to give it up. It's not like the Dolphins have been all that entertaining over the past two decades.

I don't have much of a reputation for "staying positive," but I'm trying. Fewer cars on the road will help with global warming. Families will have time together they otherwise never would have experienced. People can explore new hobbies. For example, I'm now delivering what groceries I can find to my father, who is spending his time writing Trump fan fiction. Such is life in 2020.

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The NFL gave out its season senior superlatives "honors" the night before the championship game. The Miami Dolphins won the coveted Bridgestone Cluch Performance Play of the Year... for a trick play touchdown in the second quarter of a game against the Eagles that would see the two teams combine for forty-one more points after the "clutch" play. Hrm. It feels like a participation award. Thanks, Bridgestone.

But that wasn't the only trophy to go to someone still on the Dolphins' payroll. The award for the nebulously defined "comeback player" of the year went to Ryan Tannehill (who accounted for $18 million against the Dolphins salary cap despite not playing a single down for the team).

In 1972, Miami Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for playing an integral role in leading the Dolphins' to the NFL's only undefeated season. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Morrall had been discarded by the Baltimore Colts who preferred instead to give 38-year-old Johnny Unitas yet another chance.

In 1994, Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for passing for 30 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards on the way to a 10-win season. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Marino had torn his Achilles tendon in the fifth week and ruined what was projected to be a division-winning season.

In 2008, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for surviving an 11-win season without suffering further injury. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Pennington had played in only nine games for the New York Jets, losing the eight of them that were not against the Miami Dolphins.

In 2019, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was awarded the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award for coming off the bench mid-season to ultimately lead his team to the AFC Championship game. The comeback moniker was justified because the previous year, Tannehill had been a Miami Dolphin.

Congrats to Tannehill for successfully getting out of the talent-sucking tar pit. And thanks to Friend Randy for passing along news that Tannehill was finally a winner. I'm sure he wasn't gloating. (Randy's a Dallas fan.)

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I haven't mentioned the Miami Dolphins in over two months and for good reason. They're bad. They're even bad at being bad. Their best achievement in 2019 was having Dan Marino named as one of the 10 greatest quarterbacks of the past century. Too bad Marino retired 20 years ago. The team hasn't had a consistently decent quarterback since.

To solve that problem, the team started the 2019 season with the intention of losing more than anyone has ever lost before to secure the first pick in the 2020 draft. They ultimately finished fifth in the race to be worst, meaning they won't get the best available quarterback. They might not even get the second, third, or fourth.

The best option, according to just about everyone, is Joe Burrow, whose LSU team mastered the art of having offensive linemen get away without being called for holding. He is followed in some order by Justin Herbert, Jacob Eason, and Jake Fromm. Two of them are/were Georgia Bulldogs, so I'd be fine cheering for them as Dolphins. On the other hand, Herbert is slow to make decisions, but is a nearly seven-foot-tall giant. Given that NFL scouts are size queens and Herbert is the one I like least, I figure he's the one most likely to be the Dolphins' eventual pick.

If there's any good news for the Dolphins, it's that their original target QB, Tua Tagovailoa, has fallen from his early projections and should still be available at five. (Maybe even at twenty.) Why? Because he's fragile. Would the team that famously passed on Drew Brees' wounded wing draft a player who's the real-life equivalent of a mid-80s G.I.Joe figure with a busted rubber band? We'll see.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins' last quarterback project, Ryan Tannehill, refuses to lose with his new team. Two games into the playoffs, two wins. That's two more than Ryan won in seven years with the Dolphins. Given that the Dolphins are still paying Tannehill against his last contract, they deserve at least some credit for those wins, right?

It remains possible, maybe even likely, that last year's starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick will return under center in 2020. In 2019, playing for his 8th team, Fitzpatrick became the oldest player (37) to lead his team in rushing yards (243) and rushing touchdowns (4) in a season, which implies that the Dolphins running game might be a bigger problem than whoever they've got under center. (Tannehill, for example, is now winning largely thanks to the legs of Derrick Henry.) I won't be surprised if the team decides to try losing another year's worth of games to address that problem in 2021.

Go 'Fins!

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2019 SEC Championship: UGA 10, LSU 37

'Nuff said.

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Texas A&M 13, UGA 19

I didn't take that picture. That was broadcast by CBS, which is how I saw the game between Texas A&M and Georgia (final: Texas A&M 13, UGA 19). I post it only to remind myself of what I missed. What a great sunset!

I had a real debate with myself whether or not to attend today's game. The final decision came down to the (accurate) forecast of heavy rain. I went to the Kentucky game last month and was generally miserable. I ended up wet, cold, and bored by the lousy game quality. That wasn't an experience I was interested in having twice in the same season.

Now that the home schedule is over, I'd like to make note of two disappointing trends from the 2019 season:

  1. 1. Why is it getting so hard to get people to go to the games? Even putting aside the two rainouts, I had a hard time enticing anyone to come with me, and the seats around me were empty most of the time. Assuming this isn't purely a side effect of my own anti-social tendencies, is this a problem with the current state of Georgia football (which seems to win in spite of their anemic offense) or a symptom of some larger trend?
  2. What happened to bands at halftime? The only band marching in Athens in 2019 was the Redcoats. Was this a fluke in the schedule that no team playing in Athens this year had a traveling marching band, or are marching bands at football games becoming as archaic as the fewer and fewer fans attending them?

Maybe we'll get answers to these questions next year.

Meanwhile, good luck against Tech and in the SEC Championship, Dogs. I assure you I'll be rooting for you on the couch.

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Only one team showed up to play in the annual Georgia/Missouri game. Luckily for Georgia fans, it was Georgia. Final score: Missouri 0, Georgia 27.

Missouri 0, UGA 27

Above see the blue lights rolled out for the Veteran's Day ceremony at halftime. You know, this was the sixth home game of the 2019 season and I have yet to see an opponent's band on the field. Do schools not have bands anymore?

My guest for the evening game was Friend James (aka the man who paid me to make this), who had never attended a football game before. I spent most of the game explaining it, which was fine. With only one team on the field, there wasn't that much to see.

Not that I'm complaining about the Bulldogs pitching a shut out, mind you. It was just cold — very cold — and it would have been nice to have something to jump up and down about.

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Mid-season update on Operation Fish Tank: the winless Miami Dolphins were on target in their quest for the first pick in the 2020 Draft until they ran into the one-win New York Jets. The resulting contest was a sad parody of what football is supposed to be.

Coach Brian Flores's season-long compromise between his competitive nature and his owner's desire for Tua Tagavailoa has been to score as many points as possible in the first half then stop playing after halftime. That strategy finally failed him. It's hard to blame him here, as how could anyone expect the Jets to be better at the same tactic? Both teams tried forcing a safety on the other, but the Jets' incompetence could not be overcome.

There are now 4 teams with one win, and the Cinncinnati Bengals lie alone at the bottom of the pile as the only remaining winless team. The Dolphins aren't even in second place among the tied-for-second teams. The NFL uses strength of schedule for draft tiebreakers, and the worst team with the hardest road is the Atlanta Falcons. (Echos of "28-3" continues to resonate.)

(UPDATE 2019-11-05: Oops. I misunderstood that tiebreaker. That should be the worst team with the *easiest* strength of schedule, which isn't Atlanta but Washington. Dolphins still in third, though.)

So here we are at the halfway point of the 2019 season, and it looks like the Miami Dolphins have scrapped all the talent on their team and endured a horrible, losing season... for the third overall pick. At least Atlanta isn't likely to take a QB, right? Right?

Way to find a way to lose at losing, Fins.

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To be continued...

 

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