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Miami Dolphins Flounder In NFL Play So Far


It's only been two games, so we can't officially call the Miami Dolphins the worst NFL team ever - yet - but it's not too early to wonder. The Dolphins lost their opener 59-10 to the Baltimore Ravens last week. And somehow they looked even worse yesterday, losing to the New England Patriots 43-0.

Now, those are the kind of blowouts you'd find maybe in college football but not in the pros, where parity is practically mandated. Helping us figure out how things got so bad in South Florida is Greg Cote. He's a longtime sports columnist for the Miami Herald. Hey there.

Welcome to the program.

GREG COTE: Thank you very much.

CORNISH: So these scores are pretty grim. Do they tell the whole story? I mean, we're just two weeks in.

COTE: I would say, unfortunately, they do tell the whole story. I would love to suggest this is an aberration and a blip and that the real Dolphins are going to stand up and start winning. But right now, it's hard times.

CORNISH: I want to break down what's happening then because you write that the team owner warned that this would be a kind of rebuilding season. What has that turned out to be?

COTE: Well, this is a team that really hasn't been relevant nationally for most of the past 20 years, seldom being terrible enough to have the top draft pick but just classic wheel-spinning mediocrity. And I think the franchise finally decided, look, we need to break this down. We need to accrue a bunch of draft picks in order to get good fast.

CORNISH: So we've got to be really bad in order for us to get the kind of choice we want to be really good.

COTE: That's pretty much it. And they do have four first round draft picks over the next two drafts, so they're in a position to get a franchise quarterback and to pretty much start being good again, I think, someday soon.

CORNISH: In the meantime, every time the current team takes the field, they could be injured - right? - or they could hurt their career in some way. And I gather from your writing some of them may be calling their agents to say, get me out of here. What are they supposed to do while this is going on?

COTE: Well, yeah, there have been a couple instances of that. Minkah Fitzpatrick, their young defensive back, is an example of a guy who's trying to work a trade out of here. You know, all they can be is professionals. And in an ideal world, maybe some of them see what the club is seeing, which is, hey, it's going to be really rough this season. But beginning next year, we're going to start to get a lot better. But it's tough to sell that to players.

CORNISH: I want to ask about Brian Flores. He's the Dolphins first-year head coach who seems to be put in a no-win situation - right - like practically lame duck two games into his career. Is that fair to him, especially as a person of color in a league that has a terrible reputation in terms of bringing in black and brown coaches?

COTE: No, it's not fair to him. But it's his reality. And I think he's dealing with it pretty well. You know, he - you know, he's a guy who, I think, feels lucky to have 1 of 32 jobs in America that he wants to do. You know, there's only 32...

CORNISH: But will he be blamed for this? You know what I mean. Like, you've - your record is everything as a coach.

COTE: Yes. But, you know, the Dolphins are so obviously retooling and rebooting this whole organization that I don't think he's going to catch undue heat for what's happening. I have to think that Brian Flores, at the very least, would survive this season and be around next year for what they hope is the beginning of the beginning, so to speak.

CORNISH: All right. So the word from Greg Cote is it's about to get worse before it gets better, Miami.

COTE: (Laughter).

CORNISH: Greg Cote, longtime sports columnist for the Miami Herald.

Thanks so much.

COTE: A pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.