Breaking The Miami Dolphin Chain of Mediocrity

197-197 since 1994, Miami Dolphin fans understand these numbers all too well, Adam Gase - 21-21, Ryan Tannehill - 40-42. It comes as little surprise the Dolphins head into the bye week 5-5. Every Dolphin-centric media site has been posting these numbers in one form or another. 25 years is long enough to be what your record says you are…


Don Shula was forced into retirement after the 1995 season and the Dolphins have wilted into average ever since. There are so many data points to analyze in a quarter century, but perhaps the most basic is correct.

Occam’s razor: The simplest solution tends to be the correct one.

Since Shula, ten head coaches have taken over the franchise and none has broken the chain of mediocrity. Adam Gase obviously falls into this averageness, but for him to be 21-21 is astonishing considering what he’s had to work with. This season, the team has been decimated by injuries, outgained by 787 yards, outscored by 57 points, ranked 28th in offense and 26th in defense. It’s nothing short of remarkable Miami is 5-5 given how statistically bad this team actually is.

Adam Gase is not the problem…

Occam’s razor: The simplest solution tends to be the correct one.

Since drafting Dan Marino in 1983, the Miami Dolphins have drafted only a single quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft. Ryan Tannehill was picked in 2012. It could be argued that with Marino manning the position, there was no need to draft another QB. That makes sense except Marino retired in 1999 and the Dolphins didn’t draft a 1st round QB for another 12 years…

Historically, great teams are led by great QBs. As the NFL has matured into a less violent and more score happy league, the dependence on the QB position has become paramount. In truth, only one position on the football field can realistically be responsible for winning football games.

It’s not to say, the QB is solely responsible for winning football games. It means, in many games the QB is the difference between winning and losing. Statistical averages show, 23% of games will be decided by 3 or fewer points and 46% of games will be decided by 7 or fewer points.

23% is roughly 4 games in a season, for Adam Gase, it’s the difference between being a great coach and an average coach. It’s the difference between ending the season 8-8 and ending the season 12-4. It would be much less than bold to say a QB like Tom Brady is worth 3 points in any given game.

Occam’s razor: The simplest solution tends to be the correct one.

This entire article is an attempt to look at the simplest solution to a 25 year problem… At 40-42 it’s clear that Ryan Tannehill is not worth 3 points per game and this is historically correct for this player. In 2011, Tannehill’s senior at Texas A&M, the team was a pre-season darling, ranked 1st overall by many pundits, they finished 7-6. Three of those loses were by 3 points or less, only one loss was by more than 7 points.

Ryan Tannehill is mediocre because he is not worth those 3 points that are the difference between winning teams and average teams. There’s nothing wrong with Ryan Tannehill, he has all the skills, attitude and potential any coach could ask for. Those attributes are what Adam Gase sees in him and why Gase believes Tannehill is an NFL caliber quarterback.

Clearly with the 28th ranked offense and 26th ranked defense, Miami should not be 5-5. This means Adam Gase is actually a very, very good coach who could easily be great, but he’s missing those 3 points from a great QB. Gase is stubborn and maybe to a fault if he does not take a long look at how to break the chain of mediocrity.

Other players understand this concept, it’s the reason veteran free agents will go to New England for less money and why they came to Miami when Dan Marino was behind center. Players in the NFL are all good. The fine line between winning and losing is the confidence gained when 23% of all games are won by 3 points and the winning team has one guy who can make that difference.

Occam’s razor: The simplest solution tends to be the correct one.

Do the Miami Dolphins truly want to break the chain of mediocrity? Does Adam Gase truly want to create a legacy as a great coach? The simplest answer is most likely correct. Don Shula had John Unitas, Bob Griese and Dan Marino as his quarterbacks, Shula won more games than any coach in NFL history. All of those QBs were worth 3 points per game and have a bust in the Hall-of-Fame.

Maybe the “IT” factor is not some mystical force that one guy has and another does not. Maybe “IT” is simply 3 points. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you narrow down another sport, like swimming where a race is won by 100ths of a second, or golf where 1 stoke wins a 4-day tournament, 3 points should not be taken lightly.

This is what happens with a QB like Ryan Tannehill, the 3 points he lost by in college were taken lightly in the wrong direction. If not for a faulty defense, his team would have won those games. If not for a penalty, an injury, a slip, a fall, a fumble… His team would not have lost by 3 stinking points. In reality, they lost because he’s not worth those 3 points a game.

Occam’s razor: The simplest solution tends to be the correct one.

If the Miami Dolphins truly wish to break the chain of mediocrity, get a QB worth the 3 points of “IT.” Do not stop trying until that player is attained. It really doesn’t matter how good Minkah Fitzpatrick is, or Laremy Tunsil, or any other player at any other position, they are not worth 3 points. Those players only have value, once the 3 points of “IT” are secured.

Ten head coaches have come and gone, with multitudes of schemes and assistants, they obviously are not the difference. Miami has drafted only one 1st round quarterback in a league that is defined by quarterback play. It seems so simple…

Maybe it is…

Maybe the simplest solution is the correct one.