The Miami Dolphins showed their hand early in the 2019 season when they traded away Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Minkah Fitzpatrick in separate deals that landed them a total of three first-round picks, including two in 2020.
Lately, though, they haven't exactly followed suit. The Dolphins own the longest active win streak in the AFC East at two games.
This seems to fly in the face of what many saw as an open teardown-and-rebuild process, to which first-year coach Brian Flores would be subjected. But Flores' current team -- the one filled with players playing for 2019, not 2020 or beyond -- isn't accepting a loss-filled fate as easily as one might expect.
"We're going out to win every game. Period," Flores said following his team's win over the Indianapolis Colts, via ESPN. "I have been in this league for a long time, and if you are not motivated on a daily basis, you won't be in this league long -- that's players, coaches, that's personnel, that's everybody."
The Dolphins have done just that in consecutive weeks, first taking down the New York Jets in a battle of AFC East ineptitude before stunning much of the football world in Week 10 with their two-point win over the Colts in Indianapolis. The latter victory has some thinking it's a sign of a possible turnaround under Flores.
"We've worked so hard for this," rookie defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said, again via ESPN. "The outside world, the media maybe, thought this wasn't possible. We got two more wins than the rest of the world thought we were going to have this year, so that's always pretty cool. ... This is all starting to come into fruition -- what we envisioned. Guys are starting to buy into Flores' vision, the team-first culture."
While that might be true, it's also a team led by key veterans who don't care about the future, because such a future likely won't include them. Few things motivate more effectively than a clock that is running out.
"People get mad when we win. I wouldn't want anybody to go to their job and fail at it," 31-year-old center Daniel Kilgore said, per ESPN. "We got 53 guys busting their ass every day, competing, trying to get a win. I understand the point [of tanking]. But I'm not down for it. I'm an old man in this league. I'm trying to get as many wins as I can get. My clock is running out. You've got many young guys coming in here over the next couple of years, so worry about it then. Win now."
The Browns created something of a blueprint for a rapid teardown and rebuild that included bottoming out in the most severe way possible: 0-16. These Dolphins are doing everything they can to avoid such a fate, and after two straight victories, they're rightfully focused on this week's game -- at home against the 6-3 Buffalo Bills -- more than anything else.