Remember when everyone was saying, “Man, if we just had a transformational quarterback like Cam Newton, our team could win the Super Bowl”?
Well, the wish list has something new on top these days.
Now, in the kneejerk reaction that follows every Lombardi Trophy presentation, fans of NFL teams going nowhere fast are saying “What we need is an unstoppable pass rusher like Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, plus another beast who can help track down whoever Von flushes into a panicked escape mode. That’s how you win the Super Bowl.”
There are so many other moving parts to the puzzle, of course, that it’s never quite as simple as identifying and landing a great talent at a particular position of need, which is what Denver did by taking Miller with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft.
The Miami Dolphins and former general manager Jeff Ireland Ifthought they had drafted their very own Von Miller back in 2013. They spent the No. 3 overall pick on Dion Jordan, a speedy 6-foot-6 hybrid of an edge rusher from Oregon. Traded up in the first round to get him, too.
So far the team has gotten one start and three sacks out of the guy, and not only because Jordan was suspended for the entire 2015 season for a third violation of the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Truth is, he wasn’t good enough to make much of an impact before the suspension.
I checked with Andrew Abramson, one of the Post’s two full-time Dolphins beat writers, for a status update on Jordan. Turns out the player is eligible to return to the Dolphins in April if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gives the OK. After that, Miami can either keep Jordan at a salary cup hit of $6 million for the final season of his contract or cut him and absorb a cap hit of $3 million.
Either way, that’s paying a lot for not much.
If Jordan had panned out, and if Cameron Wake had stayed healthy enough to approximate the role of Broncos veteran DeMarcus Ware, and if Ndamukong Suh had torn up the league this season at a production rate commensurate with his contract, and if Olivier Vernon simply continued to improve at the same rate,
Miami would have the monster pass rush everyone else in the league covets.
Instead, the Dolphins tied for 25th in the league in sacks last season, missed the playoffs and, in every other phase of the game as well, missed the boat.
It’s never just one player, which is the reminder that comes with every draft season but too quickly is disregarded. If it were about one player, obviously Dan Marino would have his Super Bowl ring. So, in more current context, would Houston’s J.J. Watt.
So, for that matter, would Jason Taylor.
J.T. ranks sixth on the NFL’s all-time sacks list with 139.5. Four of the guys ahead of him – Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Chris Doleman and Michael Strahan – are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The two players immediately after Taylor on that list – Richard Dent and John Randle – also are in Canton.
So it’s established that the Dolphins had a dominant and highly adaptable pass rusher in their lineup during a combination of comings and goings that added up to 13 seasons.
During Taylor’s time with the team, Miami won three playoff games, never advancing beyond the first round.
In 2002 Taylor led the NFL in sacks with 18.5. Miami missed the playoffs at 9-7 that season.
In 2006 Taylor was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year. That season the Dolphins went 6-10.
Conclusion? Hats off to the Broncos for getting Von Miller and adding him in with a mix of so many other great acquisitions and coaching decisions that Denver has made itself a regular visitor to the Super Bowl and the champion of the moment.
As for the Dolphins, we can only hope that the new coaching staff selected and supervised by Adam Gase will do a better job of developing what the team already has and what will be coming in the next draft. That is the magic potion, and even when it works it is administered one or two drops at a time.
Rather than more money spent on the defensive line, the smart move is to get a cornerback or an inside linebacker with the No. 8 overall pick in April’s draft.
The smart move is to know that the Dolphins aren’t going to be in the Super Bowl any time soon, and they wouldn’t be even if Von Miller played for them.
Matter of fact, the Las Vegas casino crowd doesn’t even think Denver will be back in the big game next year. ESPN listed odds from the Westgate SuperBook the other day showing Seattle, New England and Pittsburgh as co-favorites to win Super Bowl 51. The Broncos check in down the list at 20-1 odds, and that’s not even worrying about whether Peyton Manning will retire or return.