Patriots off to playoffs with new QB; Dolphins off to Year 4 of rebuild looking for new QB – Twin Cities


Here’s how you pick a quarterback. Here’s how you spend big free-agent money. Here’s how you build an offensive line.

The New England Patriots come to Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday to school the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale and the question for a 21st straight year is if the Dolphins take notes. The scoreboard, once again, is irrelevant considering the Dolphins season is done and the latest quarterback era looks to be going with it.

The schooling is in the rebuild this time. The Dolphins’ three-year — oops, make it four-year — rebuild remains a half-constructed house while the Patriots rebuilt in a Foxborough heartbeat.

New England (10-6) keeps showing the Dolphins (8-8) the way smart organizations operate in a manner that’s either admirable, enviable or projectile-vomit inducing.

Here’s how you build a stable coaching staff. Here’s how you help your young quarterback. Here’s how you construct a running game.

Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh said there were only eight organizations you really had to worry about. Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson said all but a handful of teams will beat themselves.

Those ideas can combine to show why future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick enjoys being in the AFC East with the Dolphins.

The Patriots are off to the playoffs with their rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, while the Dolphins say good-bye to the season Sunday and probably to their second-year quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.

Oh, it’s not an official good-bye to Tua. No one’s announcing it. There’ll be no so-long-farewell-auf-wiedersehen-good-bye scene from the Sound of Music.

But if you don’t think the Dolphins want to move on from Tua you haven’t paid attention. Dolphins owner Steve Ross got permission to talk to embattled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson at the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier talked afterward of looking to upgrade (from Tagaovailoa).

These aren’t dropped bread crumbs about what the Dolphins think of Tua. These are hammers to the head. Many remain locked into the idea Tua will be an elite quarterback. The Dolphins act locked into another idea. The prime question ahead is if Ross wants to make a player with 22 sexual allegations against him in Watson the face of his franchise.

Is Jones that much better than Tagovailoa? He’s the 16th-rated quarterback to Tua’s 19th.

Or is it the Patriots’ organization that much better? The Patriots have the eighth-ranked scoring offense. The Dolphins have the 23rd.

The Dolphins have shown strides on defense in the second half of the season against depleted offenses. They have the 16th-ranked scoring defense. The Patriots have the best scoring defense.

Belichick gave the Dolphins a running, rebuilding start, too. He won a sixth Super Bowl in the 2018 season while the Dolphins went 7-9 and then deconstructed everything, trading good players for draft picks, spending big money and burning three seasons going on four.

The Patriots went 7-9 last season after dumbly dumping Tom Brady overboard. They didn’t go down in a two-decade black hole with some Dan Marino Hangover. They drafted Jones when the rest of the league left him.

They spent big money, too, on free-agent players like tackle Trent Brown, tight end Henry Hunter and a pack of discarded Dolphins — guard Ted Karras, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. Yes, Belichick took your’n and beat your’n, to paraphrase the Bum Phillips line about Don Shula.

This late-season meeting with the Dolphins and Patriots is often an odd game of little local consequence. The 2-11, A.J. Feeley-led Dolphins upset a Patriots team on its way to a Super Bowl title in 2004. The Patriots’ Doug Flutie drop-kicked an extra point to end Dolphins coach Nick Saban’s first year in 2006.

Belichick oddly sat on the first-half ball to shrink a season finale and lost a season finale it needed to win to Dan Campbell’s Dolphins in 2015. The Dolphins had the “Miami Miracle” lateral-happy play to give Adam Gase a reason to smile on his way out he door.

There’s a few common themes to this meeting no matter the year. Here’s how you win, the Patriots keep schooling the Dolphins. Here’s the way blue-ribbon organizations work.

Here’s another irrelevant Dolphins Sunday where the Patriots advance to the playoffs and the Dolphins advance to Year 4 of their latest rebuild. Patriots off to playoffs with new QB; Dolphins off to Year 4 of rebuild looking for new QB – Twin Cities

Beth Allcock

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