On the surface, the Miami Dolphins have changed all but two coaches, their top scouting guy, their GM, even the VP of FO. From top to bottom, the Phins have already had more turnover this year, than in any other year that comes to memory. But there are more changes than just the coaches, and management. The Dolphins have changed their image, their attitude, identitiy, and soon, they will be changing their players as well.
IMAGE is everything! History can tell a person a lot. It is the reason you are where you are. 12 years ago, the Phins put their hall of fame coach out to pasture and in the process their history went with it. The new attitude that was brought in by Jimmy Johnson was not a winning mentality, but an egotistical trip that ended in failure with 62 points ending the careers of Johnson…who cares…and Marino who deserved more.
The worst part of that deal was yet to come. Despite winning records for most of his tenure here, Dave Wannstedt drove the team into the abyss. No direction, no future, no image. The Dolphins had no real image, masked behind broken promises and players who played well enough to win, but not well enough to win when needed. They were not a hard nose team, they were not finesse, they were overachievers, and the lack of success and personnel failures led this team into the ground.
We all know the failures of Saban and Cameron, it is why we are hear now. Today, we look at this team and we see once again, changes, but the changes being made out front, will shape the image of this team. No longer are we a team lost in transition between one to the other, we are now a team that will soon find itself. This new regime in its young 3 week life, is already showing signs of developing an image…and although it is too early to tell what that image may be, we know there will be one…successful or not.
You have to have an ATTITUDE! Bryan cox had an attitude, Dan Marino had an attitude, Don Shula had an attitude. Ever since they left, most of the attitude was masked beneath the facade of something else. The attitude of this team over the past 12 years has been fake. Of course when you take a field with no real image, you surely can’t act out the attitude of a team you wouldn’t want to face. The Dolphins strike fear in no one, and haven’t since Marino left. Teams used to get their schedules and shake their heads seeing the Dolphins on it…not anymore. Now, they are a beatable bunch who talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk. That is something that is about to change as well. Looking at what this regime has done in the past, at ever stop there has been an attitude. That feeling that when they are on the field, they are the ones you should be watching. If there are going to be fireworks, then they are the ones who will set them off. Even in failure, the teams of Parcells had that extra strut, even in defeat. Yet again, the attitude of this team will change, because if you don’t have that attitude, you won’t be here for very long.
A Born IDENTITY! Do you remember the last time the Dolphins had an identity? A power running system, a finesse passing game, a stretch the field score at will offense? How about a smash mouth in your face defense that will not break, but will break you?
The Dolphins defense has been ranked in the top half of the league the better part of 12 years, last year excluded, but the never had that monster identity. The Bears had an identity, the Ravens had a stigma, those were teams that you feared, the Dolphins for as good as they were, put fear into very few. Jason Taylor did, but it ended with him. The Phins defense has been good, borderline great, but they suffered along with the offense, and to truly have a team image, all phases of the game must click.
That is the task at hand for this group. Molding not only units on both sides of the ball, but changing the identity. No more will this team lack that identity. Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells believe a team needs players that mesh together to form a team, a team focused on the same goal and that goal is winning…it’s a mentality that has been lacking in Miami for a long time. When you believe you can win, your identity becomes one of knowing you will win, expecting to win. Miami for their limited success in a decade, never had that “We expect to win” identity within themselves. They all shared the blame really well, but they never stood up and demanded more from each other. It was a lost identity. Winning will change that quick, and when the coaches and the management start changing that breeds more. Cameron was a very good OC on a winning team, but he lacked the knowledge to motivate a bunch of players who had losing etched in their brains. Consider that the Phins makeup of young players have known nothing but losing since coming here in 2004. Winning will change that, and now there are coaches in place who have won every where they have been, and they will not accept anything less.
When all else fails…get new PLAYERS! When you sit down at the end of the day and think about the changes that will likely occur in the teams identity, attitude, image, you have to look at what is on the field now and realize, that most of this team has none of that…if they did, they wouldn’t be coming off the worst season in team history. So if you want to change the team, you must “change the team”.
That is at the core the real reason why Ireland, Parcells, Sparano, and everyone else are here. To change the personell on that field. It is hard to make a loser into a winner and it’s even harder to convince a loser he can. That is the task at hand. Last year the team saw a player turnover that was in 20’s, over the next 2 years, the turnover on this team will likely be 80% or more over what was on the team at the start of last season. With money to spend, reportedly around 25 – 30 million, the Dolphins should be able to go out and get players who not only know how to win, but want to win. No more looking forward to payday for this team.
This team may not be able to strike fear into it’s opponents, but Parcells and company will. You don’t have to look any further than the last practice of the season when it was reported everywhere, that Bill Parcells presence made players run faster, work harder, and give more than 100 percent. That is what Parcells brings…and those guys that needed that extra encouragement will not likely be around long enough to prove their worth.
There are too many guys on this team that only know how to lose, they look forward to Tuesdays, their day off, check day. They play the game not for love, not for respect, but for money. They will not be here much longer. As free agency approaches, so will the pink slips. If you want to change your teams image, change their attitude, change their identity, you change your team. This team is not heading for a transistion, this team is already transforming. Success may not be seen in wins and losses for a couple more years, in the end, all of this may be yet another in a long line of failures. But it will not be for a lack of trying.
Change has taken place, it continues to take place. Don’t just listen to what Jeff Ireland or Tony Sparano says when they talk, hear what they say. Hear the conviction in their voices, don’t try and read beyond their words, the suggestion of change is not masked. This team may not become a great team again, but it will become a team that finds an attitude in expecting to win, an identity, that it can win, and image that other teams want to have, and players that know how to do it.