As Week 7 dawns on the 2019 season, only two teams remain standing in the quest for the NFL’s Holy Grail: a perfect season. But as an ageless Tom Brady seeks to lead the 6-0 New England Patriots to redemption for that devastating loss in Super Bowl XLII that most of his teammates are too young to remember, the Dolphins are courageously pursuing what’s arguably a far more challenging feat roughly 1,500 miles south in Miami.
Achieving a perfect season requires even the most talented franchises to assemble a flawless confluence of roster management, health, and strategy, not to mention a little help from Lady Fortune.
Securing a winless record – and the first pick in the NFL draft – requires all this, and more, because teams attempting to lay a season-long goose egg must also grapple with the unfortunate fact that their players – and usually, their coaches too – still want to win football games. And try as you might to quietly model your roster after a middling XFL team, you’ll eventually run smack into an opponent who sucks just as badly as you do.
For the Miami Dolphins, that opponent was the Washington Redskins, who by Week 6 had already churned through a head coach and two starting quarterbacks, all while their future franchise quarterback juggles riding the pine with throwing interceptions and they pay their former franchise quarterback and 17-time leg surgery veteran $31 million through next season.
The tanking Dolphins got off to a near-textbook start. Following a scoreless first quarter, they managed to escape the next two quarters with a single field goal as Case Keenum and the Redskins racked up 17 points.
Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores almost blew the game when he replaced Josh Rosen with Ryan Fitzpatrick (insert obligatory “he went to Harvard” reference), who nearly gave owner Stephen Ross a heart attack when he promptly led a fourth-quarter comeback that brought the Dolphins within a failed two-point conversion of their first victory.
But with the chips on the line, running back Kenyan Drake came through for the Dolphins front office, masterfully dropping the screen pass from Fitzpatrick rather than running the risk that a hapless Redskins defense would let him slip into the end zone.
Now, the Dolphins reportedly plan to reward Drake by trading him to a franchise that still wants to win football games in this decade.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team has already held trade conversations with multiple teams. Drake, Rapoport said, would “welcome a new opportunity.”
The eventual Drake trade should send a message to the fourth-year running back’s soon-to-be-former teammates, the bulk of whom are reportedly begging the 0-5 Dolphins to set them free as well.
After all, there’s still a long season ahead, and Miami must ensure that its roster remains in immaculately-abysmal condition when they face the 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals in late December.