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Armando Salguero: Failed Dolphins GM Chris Grier Speaks To Media, Fails Some More

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Chris Grier failed again on Wednesday.

Grier has failed at his job for much of his six seasons as the Miami Dolphins general manager and after failing to consummate a trade for Deshaun Watson before the NFL trade deadline, which many in the organization believe could ultimately help repair the franchise’s broken state, Grier failed some more during a question and answer session with local and national reporters.

The failures came in rapid fire succession during that session.

— Grier failed to protect starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa from the obvious truth that the Dolphins do not believe he’s an elite quarterback or ever will be.

— Grier failed to take responsibility for his obvious — at this stage, anyway — miss in the 2020 draft when he selected Tagovailoa over Justin Herbert.

— Grier failed to admit that many (most?) of his early-round draft picks since he and coach Brian Flores joined forces in 2019 have been a disappointment.

— Grier said the Dolphins are “very happy with Tua.” Then he made it clear after this season the team may continue to search for another quarterback. And he failed to see how these two thoughts typically do not go together in NFL roster building.

— Grier even failed to admit the obvious — which is the Dolphins have been trying to trade for Watson for some time.

That’s a lot of failing, even for Grier. But that’s how it played out during the 17 minutes the general manager spoke.

And here are the specifics:

Start with the Watson trade saga. Grier and Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio have been discussing it for quite some time. Even Dolphins owner Stephen Ross got involved this week, asking and getting permission to speak with Watson personally.

But Grier could not bring himself to admit the trade talks were simply that. He tried to sanitize the process as nothing more than harmless due diligence.

“We’re doing background work and investigating everything,” Grier said, failing to recognize that one GM speaking with another multiple times is very much foreground stuff.

“Just because you do that doesn’t mean you’re going to do a deal. Again, we’re investigating good players and, again, every situation is unique, and this was a unique situation. We did our due diligence and decided not to pursue a trade.”

The Dolphins decided not to consummate a trade now because they were uncomfortable with Watson’s legal situation that includes 22 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct against Houston area female massage therapists.

But even as he was diminishing the extent of Miami’s interest in making the deal by the trade deadline, Grier was leaving the door open to revisiting the matter next March depending on circumstances.

“I think, again, you always evaluate the roster,” Grier said. “We go through that once the season’s done. Right now our focus is trying to win as many games as we can the second half of the season and we’ll evaluate it, we’ll go through it, and then we’ll deal with free agency and the draft once the season’s over.”

Is there any part of that where Grier says the Dolphins are done chasing Watson? Obviously not.

This is perhaps where the team’s tone deaf nature takes over: The Dolphins are going to give Tagovailoa a chance to show during this season’s final nine games whether he’s good enough to make an offseason search for an upgrade a moot point.

You’re our guy, Tua, but if you don’t meet a certain level in your first full year starting, we’ll be looking to replace you.

So why this approach from a man who’s run the last six Dolphins drafts and still has not built a consistent winner?

“Because, as I’ve told you,” Grier said, “if there’s a player there that is considered a top player in the National Football League, I think you always have to do your homework. It has nothing to do with not believing in Tua.”

That’s fascinating because, for example, the Los Angeles Chargers aren’t the least bit interested in Watson or any other quarterback. They’ve got Herbert, who was selected No. 6 in the 2020 draft when Grier passed on him in order to take Tagovailoa at No. 5.

So was that a draft day miss?

“I don’t know,” Grier said. “I leave that for you to judge.

“At the end of the day we went through the process with everyone and it was a process. And we felt good about Tua. There were a lot of things we liked about Tua. We liked Justin, too. He’s a good player. We spent time with both players. At the end of the day, we chose Tua and we feel he’ll be a good player in the league. He’s developing.”

Grier traded away a lot of talent from the 2016-2019 Dolphins, including first-round picks Minkah Fitzpatrick and Laremy Tunsil, in order to accumulate a ton of future high draft picks.

Grier has had six first-round picks and seven second-round picks — some of which he’s also traded away — the last three drafts.

And yet the Dolphins are 1-7 this season. And none of the players selected in those three drafts has achieved any semblance of stardom. Fitzpatrick and Tunsil went on to become Pro Bowl players but none of Miami’s picks have reached that accomplishment.

So what’s Grier’s assessment of that apparent massive misspending of draft resources?

“Yeah, we’ve added some good young players,” he said. “I think last year we won 10 games and this year is not where we’re happy. Being 1-7, no one’s happy. We’re all frustrated and we’re trying to turn this thing around in the second half of the season.

“We’ve added good, young players. We’re happy with where they are, we think they all will keep developing and look forward to them all being good contributors in the future.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

2 Comments

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  1. It is incredible that he chose to go in front of the media and tell whopper after whopper.
    It was difficult but he managed to make a really bad situation worse.
    When they chose Tua over Herbert, they knew Tua was recovering from a major injury and had an injury history. Tua was not expected to play last year and has only played 14 game. He has not been stellar but he is far from a bust. This season after a bad game against the Bills, PFF ranks Tua 22nd with and identical PFF grade as Mahomes.
    But they were looking to Tua’s replacement even before the season started. And willing to give three firsts for a guy who may not play a down next year or ever again.
    And you say you have confidence in Tua???
    The owner should have fired him three weeks ago. But then someone should have fired the owner when he kept Grier to start the rebuild.

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