No fan of an NFL football team enjoys it when their franchise fails to make any real moves in free agency. It is the one time during the year when known talent can be bought outright, and a team’s value can soar, or sink, with the signing of a contract.
It can be quite painful, having to sit quietly on the sidelines, while other organizations are building through the purchase of a known commodity. And yet, it can be just as difficult watching your team shill out the big bucks to secure the top prospects on the market. Especially when the big spender has been an NFL afterthought for the last decade or so.
Such is the case for the Miami Dolphins and their legions of dedicated followers.
Obviously, the fan whose team is spending the money in free agency is going to be much more excited about the upcoming season, than the one whose team is standing pat. Why wouldn’t they? Each move offers another ray of hope that the day will come when the confetti will fall for them.
Dolphins fans should be excited! They see their team going out and paying the cash to bring top-tier players into the locker room. General manager Jeff Ireland, coach Joe Philbin and their team of crack accountants have pulled the trigger on several huge signings. They landed two of the biggest fish in the pond with the signing of Mike Wallace and Danelle Ellerbe, and they are being called the winners of free agency. That alone is reason to feel excited about what the team has done.
What makes it hard for a fan is the expectations that come with such bold signings. No longer will the Dolphins take the field as the undeniable underdog. This is truly a good thing, if the team has taken the steps to be prepared for the pressure.
See, if a team buys itself a championship roster, they will be expected to win. Whether the players have had time together on the field or not. The recent debacle by the Philadelphia Eagles tells it best. You cannot simply buy a championship, it just doesn’t work.
For the Dolphins, the question becomes one of maturity and chemistry. Did they gel enough last season to handle the loss of Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby and Jake Long? Those were three key leaders for the Dolphins, both on the field and off. Are there strong enough leaders in the locker room to keep things steady as the team evolves?
The shift from being constantly expected to lose, to being considered as a top contender is hard enough for an untested team to go through. The loss of Bush, Dansby and Long makes it infinitely more difficult, and it will truly be on their second-year head coach, and his second-year quarterback, to keep things together when it gets rough.
Miami has spent the money to turn the franchise around. It is a good thing–an exciting thing–for the Dolphins faithful. There is still the draft ahead of them and with each move, the ‘Phins grow stronger. They will come into the 2013 season with a target on their back. Other teams are going to want to show the world how foolish the Dolphins had been to waste their money on so many big names. It is just the way the free agency shuffle plays out. Those other teams may find it hard to show the Dolphins as fools though.
The pieces are coming together nicely, and if they target a couple of their weaknesses in the draft, or through trade, they could solidify a promising roster. It will all come down to maturity and chemistry, and if they have that, then the Miami Dolphins could find themselves winning more than just the free agency period.
Which is exactly what they will be expected to do.