The following is a simple thank you to my beloved Miami Dolphins. For being the most relevant 5-11 squad in the history of the league. They somehow out-won the mighty Patriots down the stretch by going 5-4 after that 0-7 beginning; capped by an upset victory in the final week to knock New England off its perch. Last night may have been the end of the Patriots dynasty, and maybe I’m being a tad bit hyperbolic . . but I like to think this wonderful bunch of miscreants played a small part in the final breaths of a dynasty.
Thank you to Monika for suggesting Justin Herbert in the starring role as Miami QB. Not sure if it’ll work out this way, any of it. But who cares? All I know is that I found reason to believe inside this lost cause of a season. And while there is a long road ahead, there is a lot more hope involved than I had bargained for at the get. Sometimes, a season can be that way; it can give you something you never saw coming. Where one minute you’re throwing your arms up in disgust, and the next, you’re uttering that most magical of sporting refrains, and meaning it.
Wait till next year.
New Orleans 2024- Brian Flores sits in his makeshift office inside the New Orleans Superdome and scratches out an idea, whittling it into precise measurements as if a master carpenter. He is a craftsman of sorts, having built the foundation of a championship club from the rubble of obsolescence along with general manager Chris Grier.
It’s as if the moment Flores walked in the door, those couple decades of mediocrity that preceded him hitched a ride to someplace else. He paid scant attention to the collective shrug that accompanied his introduction as Miami’s field boss in February of 2019. And he paid little mind to the vitriol heaped on his club due to the clumsy maneuvering that led to a mass exodus of their most talented players in the name of draft capital. The overpaid suits said it was morally reprehensible that a football organization left its players in harm’s way by fielding a prohibitive skeleton crew.
Their criticism was temporarily vindicated when Flores’ Dolphins team lost his first game 59-10 to the Baltimore Ravens. It reached Chernobyl status when they began the season 0-7. The critics were only too delighted to break out their “Told You So” material, to which Flores responded with three simple words: We’re not tanking.
He was parodied for this, but he never minded that too. All he concerned himself with was drawing up a game plan that would give his fledgling outfit a fighting chance. And just as importantly, changing an organizational culture that was equal parts Caddyshack and Animal House.
Five years to the date when he was named head coach of the Miami Dolphins, he’s sixty minutes away from the Holy Grail of professional football. His opponent- the Arizona Cardinals- present myriad complications for Flores and his defense. But they’ve been up to the challenge all season, and on through January in wins over the Vegas Raiders and then, the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.
There is irony in that Baltimore was the team Flores beat to get his squad to the Super Bowl for the first time since ’85. But he hasn’t got time to dwell on it with MVP Kyler Murray next up on the docket. Later today. About ten hours from now, to be exact, as evidenced by the bustle of doors and chatter that is making its way to his office now. His guys, come to keep their coach company.
“Hey coach,” Justin Herbert says as he sticks his head in the door whilst munching on a power bar.
“What’s up ten?” Flores says, referring to his quarterback’s number.
“We’re here to kick ass and chew bubblegum . . .” Herbert smiles.
“AND WE’RE ALL OUTTA PATIENCE!!!” The guys whoop and holler as Herbert leads them to the field. Flores grins as he moves out of his chair for the first time in several hours and stretches out before moving towards the tunnel of the North end zone. His Dolphins will be the ‘home team’ today- dressed in their dark aqua old school threads out of the time of Shula and Marino. And it’s appropriate, since the feeling is of yesterday once more.
“I can’t believe we’re actually here . .” Justyn Ross, their third year wide receiver out of Clemson says as he looks out over the field.
“Not yet JR . . .not yet,” Flores says.