The first rule of Tank Club is not talk about Tank Club. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who has privately on multiple occasions acknowledged to others that his team must take some short-term lumps in order to reach its long-term goals, publicly has come fairly close to admitting that, indeed, the Dolphins are taking a step back in the hopes of eventually taking multiple steps forward.
“The goal isn’t to try to patch some holes to go 9-7 and make the playoffs,” Ross told David Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel via email. “I want to compete for and win Super Bowls. We took an objective look at our situation at the end of last year and realized that we were a long way away from where we need to be. Our roster, salary-cap situation, everything. We’ve won 72 games in 10 years and that’s just not good enough. I take responsibility for that, and as I said back in March, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The moves that have been made were all made in the best interest in trying to build a championship organization.”
But not this year. This year, like every year since 2009 (with the exception of 2016), the Dolphins won’t be competing for or winning a Super Bowl. So they want to help position themselves to have a better team in 2020 and beyond. If they’re willing to concede that they won’t make it to February in September, why not sink as low as possible now — and then rise as high as possible as they can in April and land their first franchise quarterback since birthday-boy Dan Marino retired 20 years ago?
The complication, as the Dolphins are learning the hard way, is that plenty of the current players aren’t willing to sign on to an NBA-style “trust the process” tank job. The good news is that, as the season unfolds, there will be far fewer fans in the stands to boo as the Dolphins pursue their big-picture goals.