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Sunday 3 January 2016
The train wreck that was the 2015 Miami Dolphins didn't end today with the season's closing bell. Even before even taking the field to play (and defeat!) the New England Patriots, the team had fired Dennis Hickey, its General Manager of the past two years. Hickey is the same man responsible for overpaying Ndamukong Suh and Ryan Tannehill. Too bad he won't be taking the balance of those contracts with him.
To be fair, Hickey was also responsible for bringing in two players I like, Brent Grimes and Knowshon Moreno. By any metric, he was a far better judge of talent than his predecessor, "Blind" Jeff Ireland. I don't think its any coincidence that in the past two years that Ireland has been scouting for the New Orleans Saints, they've fallen to the bottom of the talent hole in the NFC South.
Hickey is being replaced by Mike Tannenbaum, the man who brought superstar Darrelle Revis into the league when Tannenbaum was working for the Jets. However, Tannenbaum also drafted Mark Sanchez, a quarterback bad enough to ride the bench for the snakebit Philadelphia Eagles. In the five years Tannenbaum was guiding the Jets, the team went only slightly better than .500. In the Dolphins' case, that would be an improvement.
Speaking of drafting talent, the Patriots have won the AFC East for 7 consecutive seasons in part because at draft time they have plenty of picks they've hoarded from trades with other teams. It's no coincidence that they keep reaching Super Bowls with players no one has ever heard of. As a general rule, you should emulate the best teams, not do the opposite of what you see them doing.
Tannenbaum has a pronounced history of giving away picks, averaging about 4 per Jets' draft compared to the Patriots' 8. It's hard to find talented players to fill the roster when your already-talented opponents have twice as many picks as you do. I hope Tannenbaum has learned that lesson. Given that the Dolphins think so highly of him, I'm pretty sure he hasn't.
UPDATE 2016-01-04: Tannenbaum will apparently remain in an executive role ("Executive Vice President of Football Operations," whatever that means), as the Dolphins have announced that the new General Manager is the previous Director of College Scouting, Chris Grier. I am not going to pretend that I understand the difference between an EVPoFO and a General Manager. My guess is that it just gives Tannenbaum someone else to fire before he feels any heat himself. Grier has been with the Dolphins since 2000, which means he's seen just about every possible wrong way to build a team, including the draft busts of Ted Ginn, Dion Jordon, second-round quarterbacks John Beck and Pat White, and many, many other questionable decisions that didn't pan out. I hope Grier has learned his lesson. Given that he's still with the organization, I'm pretty sure he hasn't.
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