"L" is for "Losers": The Mental Makeup of a Team in Turmoil

“L” (inmagine.com)The Miami Dolphins are a team in turmoil.  The mental makeup of this team is such that instead of its captains wearing a “C” they may want to consider wearing an “L”.  For “losers”.

If you are looking for a bash piece here you won’t find it.  Aside from the opening comments, that is as close as I will come to saying this team sucks.  They don’t.  They are transitioning from a team accustomed to losing to a team that must be retrained to think outside of its record.

In order to really look at what makes up the mental establishment of a team, you really have to dive into the roster and the coaching staff to fully understand what you are seeing on the field.

Cam Cameron was the assistant to Marty Schottenheimer.  Marty isn’t exactly known for winning the important games.  Yet his teams have always been competitive and evolved into perennial playoff contenders.  So as far as Cameron goes, there is hope as he has spent the last 3 years winning more than losing.

The players themselves are the ones that have to evolve into a winning team.  It starts with their attitudes.  Consider that when Dan Marino was here, there was always that air of accomplishment and drive.  Marino would not quit until the game was over, and he would never accept defeat or failure.  He wanted the game in his hands because he knew that he could affect the outcome.  He had a winning attitude.  Winners want the ball when it matters.  Winners know that even against bad odds, they believe they have what it takes to pull it out.  Miami does not have that at any position.

Consider further that Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas are the longest tenured players on the Dolphins roster.  When they joined Miami, they joined a winning team.  A team that was a playoff contender.  A team with Dan Marino.

Taylor and Thomas both enjoyed success early with this team.  That success translates into the winning mentality that we talk about.  Over the last few years, that mentality has given way to frustration.  As productive as the two “T”s are they will not and cannot take over a game the way that a QB or RB can.  They are part of unit on defense that as a whole can not take over a game and score points at will.  They can shut a team down, they can force turnovers, but they can’t score the winning kick or make the late 4th quarter drive down the field to win the game.  That is why they are limited.  They lead by example, they lead because they are leaders.  Of the entire team, these are the only two players who knows what it feels like to win.  That is not enough to change the make up of a team.

Consider this.  In the Jimmy Johnson years, the Dolphins went 8-8, 9-7, 10-6, and 9-7.  From those 4 years, only Taylor and Thomas are with the team today.

Under Dave Wannstedt, the Dolphins went 11-5, 11-5, 9-7, 10-6, and 4-12.  Of those 5 seasons, the Dolphins made the playoffs twice.  Of those players on those playoff teams, only Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas are currently on the Miami roster.

Of the players that were on the final 10-6 team in 2003, only Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, and Chris Chambers are active on the Dolphins roster.

That means that out of the current 53 man roster, only 3 players have been on a Dolphins team that has won more than 9 games.  In 2005 the Dolphins surprised everyone when they won the final 6 games of the season to finish at 9-7.  The following year, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan left for St. Louis and the Dolphins offense underwent more change, including a change at QB that saw all 3 of the opening day 2005 rostered QBs replaced.  Not that it really matters, the 9-7 season was still a non-playoff year.  You can not build winning mentality in one year without at least advancing into the playoffs.

But lets not stop there.  Lets dig a little deeper into the current roster and see what we have on hand.

The following numbers are all based out of 53.

22 players were drafted by the Dolphins.  Of those 22 players only  3 were drafted prior to 2004 meaning that every other drafted player has known nothing but losing since being drafted by the Dolphins.

3 players were traded for.  Cleo Lemon – a backup, Trent Green who saw success in KC but only made the playoffs twice in 6 years and won zero games in the post season.  In addition to those two, Miami traded for Marty Booker, who came from a horrid Chicago team.

15 players were signed as UFA’s or picked up off waivers.  Of those 15 players only 2 starters came from a winning team, the NY Giants who border on that winning list, K Jay Feely and CB Will Allen.   Two of the waiver claims were from SD and NE both of whom were cut and did not see much time on their respective teams prior to Miami.  The others came from teams like Oakland, Green Bay, Detroit, Carolina, and Cleveland.  Even Cameron Worrell who was a UFA pick up was a spot duty player for Chicago.

13 players were signed as free agents.  Keith Traylor, Joey Porter, and Vonnie Holliday are the three that stand out of those 13.  Only Joey Porter comes from a winning franchise.

The above numbers represent a total of  6 players who have played for AND contributed to a winning team with a winning attitude.  Let me stress that again SIX ! ! ! Out of 53.

Those 6?  Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Will Allen, Joey Porter, Jay Feely, and to some degree Trent Green.

Every other player on this teams current roster has not known what winning is.  The two or three who were on a winning franchise did not contribute to their teams.

This is the reason that the Miami Dolphins possess a loser mentality.  For over 90 percent of the teams make up knows nothing else.  The 6 who have experience in feeling that joy of winning, hardly make a dent in the overall team composition.

This team has a long way to go before it becomes a true perennial contender.  Before it can evolve, it needs to start thinking in a manner consistent with winning.  In order to do that, this team needs to 1: start believing in themselves, or 2: be replaced with players who want to win and know how to do it.

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