It's the big question NFL Front Offices ask themselves each year at this time. Free Agency has kicked in, and the players that are now available hope to cash in.
Some teams, wanting to win right now regardless of future implications, opt for the Splash. They go for the big name players with hefty pricetags. They bank on the chance that they can go all the way in the upcoming season, before the inevitable salary attrition erodes their cadre of talent.
The Jets tried it last season. They spent huge money on Faneca in the OL, Pace in the LB Corps and the biggest bite of all at QB in Favre. Favre was the 'closer', the sure-as-sure could be shot...at least in the media and NYJ fanclubs.That's what they bought...what they got was a star player at the end of his rope. This is what happens when a player begins to feel they are bigger than the game itself.
It was trying to buy a championship, and it failed. Favre took his money and folded up his tent(at least temporarily), his final(?) pass an illegal one. Finger-pointing by Thomas Jones (who watched Favre throw his AFC-leading season to Miami defenders) and others indicated Favre never really took the time to be a part of the team. Thus, the Jets 'team' evaporated, and the scapegoat selection committee (Woody and Tannenbaum-oh-Tannenbaum) whisked Mangini out the door.
This year, if they try for Cutler, they'll be doing the same thing (albiet this time with a YOUNG guy, not a fossil). It will cost them at least a pick and a player, whether indigenous or brokered, so it's more of the 'mortgage the future' stuff in the Meadowlands. They also bought up the paper on Bart Scott. This is their effort to salvage some of their spending spree and make another push before they cap-destruct.
The Miami Dolphins FO tried the opposite approach. Knowing that the team had needs everywhere, they went out and got a mid-range FA OL (Smiley), DL (Ferguson) and the rest of the new guys were basically swaps with Dallas or 'depth' spots. Once they got what they could without breaking the bank, they went with what they had. What they got were overachievers, guys willing to work their ass off because they knew they were hanging by a thread and replacements were waiting.
Same thing this year. We get a mid-range FA at Center (Grove), another lesser-dollar FA in Green at CB, and we're going to go with what we got.
We showed that we would resign guys that could get it done (Carey, Crowder and Bell- all Dolphin draft picks, btw), and traded, allowed to leave or cut guys who were too costly or didn't fit our needs (Holliday, Hill, Goodman and Satele).
This season we will again field a team bouyant with youth, a roster with effort guys who will fight for their jobs and give 100% on the field whether it be practice or real games. They will be 'brought up' by a franchise'parent' who does everything according to a central plan.
We get guys if they are the right price, and we value the draft more than most.
We don't always hit, as Wilford proved. However, we hit on most of what we do, and are better for it. The '08 Dolphins would have destroyed the '07 Dolphins had they played.
This year we will be that much better, because we will fill more of the numerous holes this regime inherited. They simply couldn't get it all done at once. Every move is calculated to bring us closer to the ultimate goal: having a team that can continuously compete at the highest level year in-year out.
It's not splashy: no problem children (T.O), no bazillion-dollar FAs (Ray Lewis, Julius Peppers, etc.).
It's rather bland, actually. It's not like the attention-grabbers we will be playing this year in the AFC East.
It's Substance. We get better, and keep enough money aside to grab someone who interests us.
We will be solid if unspectacular...we won't be anyone's choice but we will be a team none of the others want to play. We will be a complete TEAM, perhaps not as splashy and shiny as our foes, but unified and giving every ounce of effort to do what the coaches want to do: grind people into the ground.
Teams will be sore the week following a game with us. They'll be tired, beat up. We'll be blessed with the freshness of youth and the promise of guys trying to show what they've got. Also, do not underestimate the confidence level of the Dolphin's roster at this time. The players that are here have seen firsthand that this group knows what they're doing, and that is infectious.
NFL Junkie gets the credit for the 10-6 bus last season: I'll buy my ticket early. 10-6, and again battling the Foxboro Frauds for the Crown.
I'm not worried about the Jets splashes, nor the Bills. We'll get wet, maybe, but it won't be enough to drown us.
Their waves will be the ones breaking on our solid foundation.
Splash can't consistently beat substance. It just gets a little on it, then dries up.
How long until football season?
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