Priority No. 1 is the quarterback. You’d think that would be obvious. You’d think it would be the decision above every other for a NFL regime. The Dolphins’ history says that isn’t so.
This is important to realize as we move forward and, as I wrote in my column today, are in the market for a quarterback this off-season. Look at recent history. Go over the past decade of wrong philosophy, bad judgment and simply bad luck.
Let’s see who they could have had and who they got in order to study decisions made in the coming months.
1. Dave Wannstedt passes on Trent Green. This was 2001. I’m not ripping Jay Fiedler here. Fiedler was OK. He won games. But he was a caretaker, which was Wannstedt’s philosophy. At the 2001 Super Bowl, Wannstedt met with writers.
"Everybody says, `Are you going to go out there and get a more experienced quarterback or a better quarterback or this type of quarterback?'" Wannstedt said, referring to speculation that the Dolphins were looking to replace Fiedler. "My answer is, `Give me some names. Who's out there that you know is going to come in and make us better?'
I was standing there. I said, “Trent Green.” He was injured that year and replaced as St. Louis starter by Kurt Warner.
"What can Trent Green do that Jay can't?" Wannstedt said. "He's not as good an athlete. Jay will make every throw. ... [Green] played this year and I don't think really helped his stock much."
Green was traded to Kansas City, where he led one of the NFL’s best offenses in throwing 26, 24, 27 and 17 touchdowns before getting hurt and, yep, then joining the Dolphins in 2007.
2. Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees. This was plain bad luck. Nick Saban had the right idea. After one season, he went out and tried to get the best available quarterback. He wanted Brees. But Brees was coming off shoulder surgery and six separate doctors around the country – the top of the business, as I was told who they were – all agreed there was an 80 percent chance Brees re-injured his shoulder. So Saban went with Culpepper. So Saban is in Alabama now and Brees has a Super Bowl ring in New Orleans.
3. Cam Cameron and John Beck. Remember the furor when Cameron/Randy Mueller didn’t choose Brady Quinn with the No. 1 pick ? They took Ted Ginn Jr. with the top pick and Beck in the second round. Fans went crazy.
As it turns out, Kevin Kolb was the choice, but it’s hard to second-guess this one in retrospect. This draft shows just how difficult it is to assess quarterbacks. The QBs drafted that year: JaMarcus Russell (first overall), Quinn (22), Kolb (36), Beck (40), Drew Stanton (43), Trent Edwards (92), Isaiah Stanback (103), Jeff Rowe (151), Troy Smith (174), Tyler Thigpen (217).
4. Jake Long over Matt Ryan. Long might go in the Hall of Fame is he stays healthy for the next decade. He might be the best tackle in football for that long. And on a team facing a major rebuilding as the Dolphins were in 2007 you can understand why they needed a sure thing - and top-pick tackles are as sure a thing as the draft brings.
Here's the problem today: Long isn't an MVP candidate. Ryan is for Atlanta. And that shows the value of the QB. Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano tied their Dolphins era to Chad Henne late in the second round - their third pick overall after Long and Phllip Merling.
5. Of course, here's what happens to idiots who question the Dolphins' strategy on the home field (check out the groundskeeper - I'm sending him my drycleaning bill!).