There’s much irony in the Miami Dolphins falling out of playoff contention by means of the Buffalo Bills because of 4 missed field goals by Dan Carpenter after all he’s done this season. To say that Carpenter is the reason the Fins lost to the Bills is unfair. The faulty play calling of Dan Henning once again, a poor first half by Chad Henne and a missing running game (which I said would be the key to the Dolphins winning on Sunday) are the culprits. Losing at home again, putting the Dolphins at 1-6 this season when in Miami, is further from ironic and brings up the question of the Dolphins mental psychosis and basic mental toughness.
After years of watching the Dolphins, I started to notice game trends throughout the season in the 1990’s. One trend was that the Dolphins couldn’t win in cold weather, ever, or late in the season. Another trend was the Dolphins couldn’t finish out 4th quarters after holding a lead. These trends continued over an 18-year span. Besides the losing trend, those particular trends have since been broken.
This year the Dolphins can’t win at home but can win on the road. On top of that, there’s the individual psyche of Henne, which is frailer than glass since he was benched a month back. Just take a look at Henne’s stats before and after the Tennessee Titans game. The same thing can be said for a Miami running game that has gone from first to last within seasons. Henning’s psyche, on the other hand, is more like that of a drunken stepfather who beats his children.
Henning coaching Henne, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and an out-of-synch Miami offense, speaks louder than any numbers could suggest and is no coincidence. The way Henning coaches his players, speaks to his players and most importantly throws his players under the bus to the media, is exposing mental frailties that all human beings possess. Instead of building his player’s morale and mental toughness, Henning’s lack of, what seems to be human empathy for error, is causing a lack of mental toughness to win over physical and athletic toughness. It reminds me of the Geico commercial where the drill sergeant is trying to be a therapist; clearly doesn’t work. All these things taken into consideration have come together and formed a full-fledged organizational psyche failure on both sides of the ball.
Breaking trends for the Miami Dolphins can be difficult. Back in the early 90’s when cold weather games couldn’t be won and blown leads were lost in the 4th quarters of games, all started to generate traction during game commentating and thereafter in the media. Maybe it was a brief mention in passing that the Dolphins didn’t play their best ball in cold weather that started it all. That slowly escalated into the Dolphins can’t win cold weather games period. Same goes for the way they blew big leads for losses in the 4th. Eventually these statistical facts got into the heads of the Dolphin players through coaches or media nonsense and caused mental erosion to their apparent frail psyches and there wasn’t a coach that could fix it because the coaches were all affected too. It’s nothing uncommon in individual sports athletes, but it’s quite unusual when a whole organization experiences it a mental breakdown.
Frailty over the years has been a way of life for the Dolphins. That changed when Tony Sparano, but particularly Bill Parcells, came to the organization, which has since ceased all to exist. All of that mental toughness may have left when Parcells did. One thing it proves is that Sparano isn’t mentally tough and neither are the players. Maybe Sparano’s job security worries are spilling over into the locker room. Does the Miami organization need a hype team? I think they need a serious psychological staff on call.
At this point, it looks like Chad Henne will likely take a seat next season and Dan Henning will “retire.” There is no certainty to whether or not Brown or Williams will remain in Miami either. Sparano is likely to stay for at least one more year. A curious observation to look for is if the Dolphins continue losing at home and winning on the road. If that remains the case, you might see that trend escalate into seasons to come for the Fins. If Henne plays at all or if Brown and Williams stay and perform beyond this years numbers, then I would point the finger at Henning for ego destabilizing. If all trends continue, a full coaching organization sweep is likely necessary to nip this in the bud. One trend that hasn’t been erased since the 70’s is the losing.
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