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Welcome To The Way Off-Season
Updated 1/16/02

Now that it's smelling like Tuna in Tampa, it's likely that many Miami fans will be feeling just a bit depressed and left out. Don't WE need change?  While the Buccaneer faithful will be treated to an exaggerated Parcells love-fest, Dolphin fans will have very little to use as kindling for their off-season campfire. Our over-matched coach is still well within the standard tolerance window of Wayne "Milksop" Huezinga and is at no risk of being replaced any time soon. See, once again, the Dolphins made the playoffs - God knows how - and once again were summarily dispatched like unruly children. What is claimed here is consistency and perennial excellence. Okay, they did manage to match last year's regular season win-loss record, but they were not able to retain the conference title and were easily bounced a round early this year. Their substantial injury woes provide a ready-made coat of excuses for starred in another playoff debacle, recycling the script in which the Dolphins never manage to score a single touchdown as they exit through the trapdoor screaming. The most unfortunate aspect of this situation is that there seems little pressure for change and virtually no means by which any improvement could be bought. Between salary cap problems and mediocre coaching, we may can put a frame around the last two seasons and title the resulting drab canvas "Dolphin Glory Years."

Yet we hear that Troy Aikman is about to become a Dolphin. Regardless of whether Norv Turner becomes the new OC, many expect Troy to retake the field this spring wearing a Miami uniform. How this could be financially possible remains to be seen, but given Miami's well known salary cap issues, it would certainly ensure that the Fiedler era will be over in Miami.

Caution: Anyone caught cheering will be shot.

Fiedler has played well enough to earn reasonable attention in the off-season free-agent market. He will certainly draw the attention of QB-starved clubs like Cincinnati or Washington. If Troy Aikman is signed, Miami will not, cannot seek to match any offers that come Jay's way. The Dolphins are now poised to shoot their seriously meager wad on an aging and damaged has-been while saying  "so long" to Mr. Never-Was. This is style over substance at it's very worst. I ask you to imagine how we will be holding our breath each and every time Troy takes a snap. One hit and he's done.

Troy Aikman has played 12 seasons in the NFL  - and that's old in football-player years. Factor in his injury-riddled final seasons with the Cowboys and the Dolphins might just as well re-sign Dan Marino. Despite any claims you may hear to the contrary, chronic back problems do not simply "go away" - just ask Daryl Gardener - nor do the cumulative effects of a dozen concussions. Nonetheless, though Dave Wannstedt knows these things to be true, by many reports, he is prepared to embark on a quarterback signing that could make his infamous Chicago crap-shoot on Rick Mirer look like a minor miscalculation. Be sure that if Miami signs Aikman there will be a large signing bonus involved, up-front money paid in lieu of a substantial contract. While the initial salary cap impact might appear small, the real pain will be felt when Troy is carried unconscious from the field and is forced into his second involuntary retirement.

Even the Great Dumb-Ass himself, Jerry Jones, who worshipped at the "Alter of Troy", knew better than to continue down this path. The Cowboys had serious offensive line problems in Troy's final years - they could no longer protect the quarterback. (Does that sound familiar?) At the cost of an accelerated cap hit, the Cowboys wisely chose to pressure Troy into retirement. It was a humane choice as well as wise business decision. This move has allowed them to follow the newer NFL trend away from less-mobile quarterbacks like Aikman and begin to re-build their offense around a younger guy that can throw on the run or scramble for a critical first down. That's essentially the guy the Dolphins already have with Fiedler. While it is conceivable that Miami could benefit from such a move, the odds are worse than bad. Aikman was a fine quarterback not long ago, but then so was Dan Marino. The deck is stacked against this being a sensible or responsible decision. Wannstedt knew it was time for Marino to retire. Why can't he see this is true of Aikman?

There's almost nothing the average fan can do (except bitch) about the decisions made or likely to be made by their team's owner, coaching or front office. Still, Miami fans have begun to send the Dolphins one kind of "no confidence" vote that the owner will surely hear. When your team is forced to black out a playoff game due to the reluctance of the faithful to buy 20% of the available tickets, there's trouble brewing. Sure, it's time for some bold moves, but that shouldn't include betting on dead horses.