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So last weekend we saw the league’s cut-down day, where all 32 teams had to cut their rosters down to 53 (from the 90 that they play around with during pre-season). I’m sure I mentioned this last year, but for the players involved, this has got to be a horrible time of year, and it means that while Week 4 of pre-season may be seen as an unnecessary game, it gives players a final chance to show their coaches what they can do in a ‘game’ situation. What it also means is that for a lot of the players playing in Week 4, it’s the end of a dream that they’ve worked for months and years to achieve.

Those of you who regularly follow Hard Knocks on NFL Gamepass or Sky will also know that the final episode, which largely covers this last game and the cutdown day, can be a difficult watch. That being said, I’ve still tried to keep as ‘spoiler free’ as I can by avoiding news of Oakland’s cuts (although a few have slipped the net, and it made it weird watching Gruden patting players on the back and strongly praising people who I now know he cut a week or so later!).

But Saturday for me also served as confirmation of what I had suspected the Dolphins were doing in the off season… Settle in, reader – I’ve got some things to get off my chest.

Basically, it became extremely clear that the Dolphins are tanking, and aiming to earn themselves the first pick in the 2020 draft. We’ve been in the process of clearing out all summer with a number of names moving on. But Saturday and Sunday saw us trade away 3 players who were arguably (not even arguably in some cases) our strongest in their respective positions. Kiko Alonso headed to the Saints on Sunday, which was preceded by Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills moving to Houston to join up with the Texans.

There had been rumours in the days before the Tunsil move that he was going to make his way to Houston in return for Jadeveon Clowney – a move which, having spoken to a number of fans on both sides of the fence, nobody was particularly keen on. During the day on Saturday (or possibly Friday night… I can’t remember) that fell through, with Clowney moving to the Seahawks. However, conversations must have been ongoing, and the Tunsil/Stills move happened late Saturday night. And I’ll be honest… I was more than slightly annoyed!

Now, true – we got a good deal out of it. 2 first round picks and a second round pick aren’t to be sniffed at. But in return, Houston have got themselves a top level tackle, and a wide receiver who still has plenty of use left in him. I was a bit confused with the Stills part of the trade – we’re weak at WR, but I can’t imagine his disagreements [I think outright criticism my be a more accurate description – Ed.] with owner Stephen Ross will have helped his cause.

The people I really feel sorry for are our QBs: Fitzpatrick and Rosen. Fitz has been named as our starting QB, but this year I think he’s going to spend more time on his arse than he is throwing the ball – the line we have in front of him is flimsy at best. If I’m in Rosen’s shoes though, I’m really questioning my situation. To me, it feels like he’s been set up to fail. Not only does he face the same problems as Fitz, but he’s got much less experience, and is starting from the bench. Fitz will only be here for a year, and it’s very well known that the ‘Fins are desperate to get their hands on Tua Tagovailoa at QB in next year’s draft, so really Rosen can’t win. Even if it doesn’t work out with Tua, we’ve got 2 first round picks in 2021, so can have another go at finding ourselves a Franchise leader!

We’ve even got rid of 14 year veteran long-snapper John Denny!

Now, I understand the need for a re-build. I know I’m moaning, but I do appreciate the usefulness of banking more picks than a Nathan Peterman game (I can’t take credit for that one – that belongs to Graham @Grummy1976 on twitter!) but what we need to remember is that they are a RISK. How many times has the ‘next big thing’ been drafted early only to struggle in the league? One of them is sitting on our bench wearing number 3 – just because you’re drafted in the first couple of picks does not mean you’re going to be an instant hit.

All this being said, my support of the Dolphins won’t waver, and I’ll still be sat in my armchair every Sunday evening cheering us on. I’ll still be getting my hopes unnecessarily high, and I’ll still be winding up fans of the people we’re playing on Twitter! After all…

Anyway, enough moaning. As I write this, we’re just 3 days away from the start of the season, and as always, I’m really REALLY excited! I’ve not got any bets on this year, so I can’t keep you posted on how that’s doing. Instead, I’ve set myself a challenge – I’m re-discovering my inner child, and I’m challenging myself to complete the Panini NFL 2019 Sticker Book by the end of the season! I’ve got a sticker album and a box of stickers on their way, so hopefully they’ll be with me before the weekend. It’s this one, if you want to collect along…

Let me know if you’re collecting too, and get your swapsies ready!

In the next day or two, I’ll be making my week one Pick’em Picks (I’m determined to turn the blog Aqua and Orange!) and my Fantasy League team, the ‘Little Lebowski Urban Achievers’ are ready to go (despite me forgetting that Zeke was holding out, and Shady McCoy being let go from the Bills at the weekend!) so there’s plenty to talk about!

Until next time…