General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Brian Flores discussed the just-completed season in a joint press conference Monday, and they both delivered the same message.
The Dolphins laid a strong foundation in 2019.
The very first question of the press conference was directed at Grier, who was asked whether he considered the season a success.
The answer came quickly.
"Yes, absolutely," Grier said. "I think from Day 1, we talked about Brian coming in and creating the culture and setting the expectations for the organization and for us, I think we're very excited about the future. I think yesterday was a culmination of the guys' work throughout the season. They improved each week, got better and better, and so I'm excited for the future."
The "yesterday," of course, was in reference to the Dolphins’ 27-24 victory against the AFC East champion New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, where Miami hadn't won in more than a decade.
It was more than just that one game, though. The Dolphins went 5-4 in their final nine games, a record that included a victory against another division champion, the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFC East.
The Dolphins' turnaround after their 0-7 start was nothing short of remarkable, and Flores told his players after the New England game he was proud of their resilience.
"I was proud of the way they dealt with adversity throughout the course of the season," Flores said. "I love the way they worked in practice, in meetings, in walk-throughs, and how towards the end, they really started trusting the process. I thought they really worked hard and they saw some of the fruits of their labor, not only yesterday, but the latter stages of the season. This team knows how to deal with adversity or they learned how to deal with adversity this season. I also mentioned that every season is a little bit different. This team is going to be different than the team we'll have next year. That's the business of the National Football League. I think we laid the right foundation and need to try to build on that moving forward."
Grier said he liked the progress the organization has made since the rebuilding progress began.
"I talked about laying the groundwork and the foundation of trying to build something that would win for sustained success, and for us, it was very important to do that," Grier said. "I think Brian and the coaching staff have done a great job of laying that foundation."
Flores said the turning point of the season came when the decision was made to reinsert Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback in the fourth quarter of the Week 6 game against the Washington Redskins.
Though the Dolphins weren't able to complete their comeback from a 17-3 deficit, losing the game on a failed two-point conversion attempt, the team seemed energized by what happened that day.
Even though the Dolphins would lose their next two games after that, it was clear the team had turned a corner and the results started coming with the Week 9 victory against the New York Jets.
But there was another major factor in the turnaround, and that was the players' resolve in never giving up even when the results weren't there through the early part of the regular season.
That, more than anything, is what pleased Flores about his first season as head coach of the Dolphins.
"We dealt with a lot of adversity," he said. "I really think when you deal with defeat, when you deal with disappointment, again, it either breaks you or makes you stronger, and I think this team got stronger. And I think early in the season when a lot of people thought we were broken, we were actually building and strengthening as a team. That's really what, to me, is the one thing that I was very, very pleased with.
"And I don't think a lot of people knew that was happening. I think only the people in the building knew that, which is why I speak so much about us as a team, just blocking out anything from the outside and just really spending time just locking in on the things that are happening in the building."