Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Dolphins better be right about Matt Flynn
By James Walker
Coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins missed their chance at Matt Flynn. Will they come to regret it?
Although the Miami Dolphins' regime wouldn't admit it, they will nervously keep one eye on how things progress with the offense of the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle is where quarterback Matt Flynn will resume his NFL career after a four-year stint as a backup with the Green Bay Packers. The same Matt Flynn the Dolphins didn't think highly enough to come up with a three-year, $26 million contract he received in Seattle.
The Dolphins had every opportunity to land Flynn. Miami had the strong connection of Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who helped develop Flynn in Green Bay. Miami also had the perfect offensive system for Flynn and even had him in for a visit last weekend. The Dolphins could've made sure Flynn didn't leave their facilities without becoming Miami's next starting quarterback. Instead, the Dolphins let Flynn slip away.
Miami's regime, led by owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and Philbin, didn't think Flynn was worth the investment. That's fine, but they better be right.
Miami supposedly knows Flynn better than any team outside the Packers. If Flynn turns out to be the next great starting quarterback, that stain will stick with the Dolphins. Miami should have been the last team fooled by this. The Dolphins have intimate knowledge of what Flynn can and cannot do.
With just two career starts, Flynn may become the next Matt Schaub (a top-12 quarterback) or the next Kevin Kolb (a bust). The Dolphins can only hope it's the latter.
Remember Drew Brees? He became a free agent in 2006 and was looking for a team after injuring his shoulder late in the season with the San Diego Chargers.
The Dolphins were considered the favorites to get Brees and were very close to making it a reality. But after sending Brees through a round of physicals, Miami was scared away. The Dolphins instead traded a draft pick to the Minnesota Vikings for quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Brees later signed with the New Orleans Saints, his second choice behind Miami.
We all know how that turned out.
This offseason could be a case of history repeating itself in Miami, albeit probably to a lesser degree. After missing out on Flynn, who also came with risks, the Dolphins signed David Garrard. The 34-year old quarterback has been out of football since 2010 and will compete with Matt Moore for the starting job. This is a quarterback situation that is going nowhere fast.
Miami also has a good shot to add former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the mix. Miami holds the No. 8 overall pick and Tannehill played for Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Although Tannehill was once considered a late first-round pick, his stock is on the rise and seems like a logical fit for Miami. But Tannehill would most likely hold a clipboard next year if he goes to Miami.
The Dolphins have gone from a team of promise to a team of despair in a matter of weeks. The offseason began with the chance of landing the top coach on the market (Jeff Fisher) and one of the top free-agent quarterbacks (Peyton Manning or Flynn). It ended with Miami coming up empty-handed at both. The Dolphins also gutted the roster by trading Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall for pennies on the dollar and cutting leading tackler and safety Yeremiah Bell.
Miami looks like a team that is not only rebuilding, but tearing down the walls from within thanks to head-scratching decisions. The draft remains, but the Dolphins appear hard-pressed to better last year's record of 6-10. An 8-8 season would be considered a big upset with the way this roster currently stands.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes Dolphins ownership made this offseason was selling their fans on false hopes and empty promises. Ross has very deep pockets and wanted to make a splash. But all we've seen is belly flops.
Who knows if Flynn could have solved Miami's quarterback dilemma and prevented this tailspin. The Dolphins obviously pegged Flynn as a big question mark, and their evaluation better be more accurate than the injury concerns six years ago with Brees.
Maybe this time the Dolphins dodged a bullet. Or maybe they shot themselves in the foot once again.
If Flynn proves to be a good quarterback in 2012 -- while Miami is still toiling with the David Garrards and Matt Moores of the world -- the Dolphins have no one to blame but themselves.