Miami Dolphins’ Watson lust ruined season, damaged Tua. And blame starts with owner Ross | Opinion

How can something this sad, and messy, and ugly, keep getting worse? How can the Miami Dolphins possibly be more of a national embarrassment with their hapless mismanagement?

Poor Brian Flores, the coach-puppet out front, keeps saying, “Tua’s our guy. Tua’s our quarterback” (because what choice does he have) — while failed club owner Stephen Ross, in the shadows, was requesting and getting permission to speak directly Monday with Deshaun Watson. (And how do you think that is playing in the Dolphins locker room?)

All the while victim-quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who deserves so much better, is left to publicly twist in the wind, embarrassed, put in such a terrible position that, when asked if he feels wanted, can only manage, “I don’t not feel wanted.”

The Dolphins’ season of high hopes sits like pile of feces at 1-7 after seven straight losses. But the losing and the record isn’t the worst of this franchise in 2021.

The worst is the Three Stooges-level bungling of the quarterback situation — the one position you cannot afford to mishandle to this spectacular degree.

Ross, 81, has been the majority owner a long time, since 2009. His stewardship has been well-intended. He wants dearly to win. He has spent a ton of money to do so. But he’s overseen a lot of losing. Since 2016 there has been a succession plan in place. It may be time for Mr. Ross to step aside after this season, in the franchise’s best interest, and let somebody else try to do better.

I would also not feel much job security if I were general manager Chris Grier. And a GM change would put Flores’ future in jeopardy as well.

Plainly this franchise has taken a huge step backward this year, the Tagovailoa/Watson mess at the dead center of it, as a symbol of how very wrong things can go when the right people aren’t in charge.

They draft Tagovailoa fifth overall in 2020. In 14 games, less than one full season’s evidence, he is 7-7 as a starter, better than Flores’ record without him. It is plainly, egregiously too soon to write him off.

Yet the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants Dolphins are doing just that, already proclaiming oops we blew that No. 1 pick. It could not be more obvious if they had billboards saying it along Interstate 95.

They are proclaiming it by already courting his successor. But not just any successor:

A guy with 22 civil suits against him over sexual misconduct at massage therapy sessions.

A guy with 10 criminal complaints against him.

A guy with a possible heavy NFL suspension over his head.

A guy who would cost three first-round draft picks to get, plus additional player and draft capital, at a $40 million salary cap hit in 2022.

Now, as if on cue, it’s Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins this Sunday — the nexus of the sad saga.

Ross has had his hands in this mess from the start, in January, when the disgruntled Watson demanded a trade from Houston, before all the allegations and civil suits hit.

Speaking to Watson on Monday, one day before the NFL trade deadline, was a last-ditch effort, but Miami ultimately passed not because of a sudden moral reckoning, but because they could not get the 22 civil suits settled.

“There was a lot of effort on their part to get the cases settled so there could be a trade, apparently,” Tony Buzbee, attorney for the 22 women, told Fox 26 News in Houston. “I’m assuming at some point that will come about again. There was [also] an insistence on a very, very robust non-disclosure agreement and we pushed back on that very hard. Time is on my side. I’m going to continue to pursue the case.”

Grier on Wednesday strongly denied the Dolphins had sought non-disclosure agreements and said the suggestion “pisses me off.”

Watson is set to be deposed in February. Buzbee is headed “for hopefully a trial,” he said.

This saga is far from over. But neither is the Dolphins’ integral role in it — at least until Ross, Grier or Flores stand up, lean into a microphone and say so unequivocally,

Otherwise all of this will regurgitate during the offseason and before the 2022 Draft in April. Watson has a no-trade clause and reportedly wants only Miami, but that could change. If the civil suits and legal hurdles are cleared, more teams will be interested. The already exorbitant cost to get Watson will be driven up.

Houston had little incentive to trade Watson by Tuesday as he sits out the entire season.

The Dolphins were smart to pass on Watson at this week’s deadline. They would have been smarter to have never set out on this mindless, damaging infatuation in the first place.

It has ruined this season. It might have ruined the psyche of the young quarterback they drafted No. 1 just last year.

It would serve this Dolphins regime right if Tua Tagovailoa, sick of all this, demanded a trade. I doubt he will, of course. Because throughout this degrading ordeal he has shown the class not shown him by the team that put him through it.


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