Faced with a momentous off-season, staring at a facelift of draft picks and free-agent money, ruminating over the possibilities and pitfalls, the Dolphins can be confident about one thing regarding this offseason's decisions:
Someone in the organization has the answer.
That's because 55 Dolphins scouts and coaches went to Indianapolis this week to study the possibilities at the NFL Combine. Fifty-five! That's more than the number of players on the roster. It's about eight officials per victory last season.
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It's never, ever, been about the number of officials an NFL franchise sent to the combine. Imagine how players feel in the team interview.
Player: "Yes, you in the sixth row ..."
Dolphins Official: "Can you speak up? We're having trouble hearing back here."
What can so many Dolphins voices do for the process except make it louder? And what's the 55th official in charge of, counting the others to assure everyone's on the bus?
After nearly three decades of watching the Dolphins, I thought I'd seen them try everything to get a competitive advantage. I saw Don Shula once bully a league official into letting them practice on San Diego's field before a playoff game when the Chargers weren't even allowed to practice there.
I saw Jimmy Johnson rip a box of Frosted Flakes apart in the locker room (because Buffalo's Doug Flutie endorsed them). I saw Nick Saban make a grown man cry on the practice field. I saw Bill Parcells smudge his resume.
I've never seen Dolphins officials swarm an NFL combine like locusts. And have you ever been to Indianapolis in February? It's heaven, if your idea of heaven is grey, cold and Waffle Houses.
Of all the changes in sports — money, fame, rappers rapping at players during games — the number of people involved in teams is the one most noticeable to the naked eye.
Like any NBA team, the Heat has more people in suits on their bench than the Supreme Court does on its bench. At time-outs, they stand up and circle the players like stage dancers around Lady Gaga.
Saban transformed the Dolphins coaching staff into a Broadway show. His idea was to have a back-up at every assistant's position to promote continuity in case someone left. Never mind he left after two seasons.
Now General Manager Jeff Ireland has brought 54 other Dolphins officials to the combine. The Indianapolis tourists bureau must love them, but it's hard to discount diminishing returns in such numbers.
"We've got a lot of eyes on a lot of different guys, so it really doesn't change the process," Ireland told reporters at the combine. "We are trying to prioritize who we are looking at, what we are looking at — this is an information gathering process."
It wasn't always like this. Don Shula can't remember how many people went to Indianapolis to interview Dan Marino before the 1983 combine. Come to think of it …
"Was the combine in place then?" he said.
He remembers interviewing Marino with Chuck Connor, the Dolphins personnel guy at the time. They both liked him, he said.
"We didn't think he'd be around for us to take," Shula said.
What does he think of 55 Dolphins officials attending the combine to study players?
"Well, remember, when I started the coaching staff consisted of six — including me," he said. "So times have changed."
If there ever was a doubt that Dolphins owner Steve Ross wants to win, picking up the tab for 55 coaches and scouts at the combine should seal it. On the other hand, spending money has never been the franchise's problem.
Being smart has been. And this is an off-season where smarts will rule.
Still, it must be cool for the Dolphins band together on the streets of Indianapolis comparing notes on players. For fun, they can turn into the Waffle House and say, "Table for 55."