The Miami Dolphins have no face to their franchise. None. On September 23rd just before the Cleveland game I wrote that this team had no play makers. That hasn’t changed. They also don’t have an identity. None. Not a slim bit of personality. Full of faces and full of names but no one who can say “here I am”. It’s a shame really and a trend that is long overdue for change.
Some teams are images of their coaches or their coaches before them. The Pittsburgh Steelers for example are a mirror image of Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. In New England and New York there is no question who those teams reflect. They have an identity, good or bad. It’s theirs. They hang their hat and their game play on it. It defines them and they take pride in both the hero and the villain label.
In Miami…there is nothing. No identity whatsoever.
The Dolphins were at one time a high-powered passing team. Under Dave Wannstedt they were a grind it out working class team. When Nick Saban came to town they brought an egotism along with them that mimicked the coach. The identity became lost when he left. Cam Cameron was a joke. From his “you will love Ted Ginn and the whole Ginn family” comment to his blaise’ coaching style that left both players and assistant coaches looking lazy and unprepared.
It was all supposed to change with the arrival of Bill Parcells. Gone was the flighty attitude and with it came a bold in your face attitude that anything short of success was failure. Forget about a winning season, if the team didn’t make the playoffs they were losers. If a player didn’t step up, you can bet that Parcells would drive them into the ground or out of town. Simply put it was his way or the highway.
Yet Parcells failed. Miserably. His player acquisitions were atrocious and the talent on the field was wasted. He hired a first time GM and a first time HC and then forced them to hold his hand while he tied theirs. The product on the field never materialized into a Tony Sparano style, of course who really knows what that style is. Instead of a team reborn we watched Parcells run into the playoffs with his former QB Chad Pennington and tailored his offense to that player. The following year, Sparano still under the guise of Parcells forced Chad Henne to play that style. It didn’t work. Fan expectations were high and the team never was able to meet them since.
Once Pennington went down, the identity of the team faded with him. There was no face of the franchise. No singular player that kids could emulate. Now, what little may have been left is all but gone.
Jason Taylor? Nothing close to what he once was. Instead, the Dolphins tried to retread the tires and it hasn’t worked. Kevin Burnett? He was a playmaker in San Diego now he his simply lost and confused. Cameron Wake was the monster from the Great White North and he was set to become the Miami Dolphins next great linebacker. After four games it’s hard to tell the difference between Wake and Koa Misi, a high draft pick who shows flashes but not play making ability yet.
Is this team a power running team? Not even close. Injuries to Daniel Thomas aside the lack of continuity on the offense whether it be from the Oline or the dropped passes by Brandon Marshall are overshadowed by the use of Reggie Bush who was supposed to add excitement to the team. Is this team a high-powered passing team? Not even close. While Chad Henne has improved considerably over last year he still lacks the fire and drive to command his team. He makes the throws and is making far better decisions but he still doesn’t “drive” his team.
For all the talk that was spewed by Vontae’ Davis the secondary is not even pedestrian. Granted Davis has been injured but even Sean Smith has struggled. The Dolphins defense is neither hard hitting nor fast off the line. They can no sooner rush the QB as they can cover a TE. The secondary is outplayed simply because the style of defense is predicated on making the QB throw out of rhythm.
To define this years Miami Dolphins is tough. Because they are not. They are not absolute or definitive. They are singular and play singular roles. They talk as a team but have yet to define the team they are or want to be. They have talent and it’s difficult to point in any one direction to find a place to lay blame. Is the talent not coached well enough or are the players simply so unorganized themselves that they can’t find a way to work together on the field? Are there too many “acorns” or are their too many names? Or is this team’s makeup too young to have reached the point that they get it?
Whatever the answer or more likely answers are, the reality is there is no leader no charge man. No captain among the captain’s. This is a lost team that has been searching for something that they can hang their hat on. Something to define them. Right now, the only thing that defines them is their rallying around Tony Sparano. Which I suppose would mirror the head coach as he rally’s around his players.
Which again begs the question, who are they…really?