Maybe the Dolphins know things no one else does. Or maybe the term tanking just rubs first-year coach Brian Flores the wrong way.
The Miami coach, offering what has become the company line despite parting ways with most of its veteran talent this offseason, reiterated Sunday that the team isn't actively looking to lose in 2019.
"This game means a lot to me," he said, per Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. "I wouldn't disrespect the game with that. Again, no, we're not. We're going to try to win every game. I think that's disrespectful to even to say that. ... It's disheartening to hear people talk about it, to even say that. For a guy who respects the game as much as the game has done for me, when people say that, it's extremely sad."
Sometimes the topic of tanking is a matter of semantics. While the Dolphins will approach each game preparing to win, there's no debating the front office has made a concerted effort to build for the future at the expense of being competitive in the present time. Trading away left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Kiko Alonso this weekend were merely the latest in a long line of moves Miami made since the end of last season.
"You guys saw the compensation," he said. "He was part of that. It was one of those things where he's a very good player. I like him, but at the end of the day we just felt like this was the best move for us. You got to make tough decisions when you're sitting in this seat. Chris Grier, Brandon [Shore] and myself spent a lot of time talking through it and thinking about it. At the end of the day, we felt like this was best.
"There's a lot of conversations with a lot of teams on a daily basis. We've had several different offers. My reaction's always the same -- does this help this team? Does it help this organization? All of those things factor into my feeling on a particular trade. In this instance, I thought this trade would help this organization."
Netting a 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick probably does. But it's also disheartening for a fan base to see a player who was drafted just three years ago and is widely regarded as one of the league's most promising at his position already out the door. Flores said those that remain in the house will overcome any residual feelings they might have about the defections.
"I think we've got a good locker room," Flores said. "We've got a lot of guys who care about each other and work hard and want to play for each other. I understand there are relationships that are built over the course of years. But at the end of the day, the guys in the locker room, I think they're going to band together and play together. And at the end of the day you've got to play for one another."