The Miami Dolphins are 0-6. Duh! As my now eight year old would say. Sunday’s game is still a highlight reel on ESPN, or rather a low-light reel if you are a Phins fan. Three weeks ago on my Wednesday night radio show, On the Fin Side over at Finsradio.net, I started a segment on the Suck for Luck campaign. Today, I see that the Sun-Sentinel is now set to post a weekly update as well. It appears that everyone has given up on the Dolphins. Except the Dolphins themselves.
By now I am sure that you have heard the reports that CBS caught Tony Sparano yelling to ref that they needed to challenge one of the Denver scores, exclaiming that if they didn’t, he would be fired. So while Sparano tells the media that he doesn’t concern himself with such things, it’s obvious now that it weighs on his mind. So much so that he is thinking about during the games. Not a good recipe for getting his team turned around to fight for wins and prolonging their head coaches job for the season…or another week.
In the locker room it’s the same as it was last week and the week before. Players are not ready to point their fingers at that guy or this guy or the coach or the general manager or the owner. They are still pointing the fingers at themselves. Most of the players interviewed following the game took the higher road with the cliche’d comments like “I didn’t step up” or “I could have done a better job of…”
WR Marlon Moore took the loss especially hard and shouldered the blame for the drop of the onside kick that he caught. He went so far as to say that he should have maintained outside coverage while Brian Hartline took to the ball. While most of the players are converting their frustration into self evaluation, cracks are starting to form. The first two come from the teams offensive “stars”.
It was revealed toda in a Brian Biggane article on the Palm Beach Post that Brandon Marshall was very upset following the NY Jets game, specifically the game plan. As it was reported by Biggane, Marshall kept his mouth shut until he got home and then vented to his wife. At a Harvard University event, Marshall said he didn’t like the game plan because the ball didn’t come his way enough.
Marshall was thrown to 13 times in that game and dropped two passes including a possible touchdown. He also ran a sure touchdown out of bounds when he took the wrong angle up-field after breaking away from coverage. Perhaps Marshall should be looking inwards to find a reason why the team is winless heading into week 7 of the season.
Reggie Bush has yet to decry the way the team uses him but did say that he isn’t quite sure why the Dolphins are not using him like he was used in New Orleans. When the game on Sunday ended, Bush was the only main player to stick around and field questions from the media. Reggie made it clear that in terms of Tony Sparano’s future, that he isn’t worried about it.
Bush said that the NFL is a business and that players shouldn’t be worried about their head coaches future that they need to play to win the game and not to save somebody’s job. He said if players are worrying about coaches jobs then they are in the wrong place.
That is it. The first two small micro-fractures that could balloon into something far more revealing later. Sparano hasn’t lost the team yet but that is not necessarily an indication that the players still support him 100 percent but instead could also be an indication that there simply isn’t another option on the table at this point.
To be fair, Sparano has had a miserable career in Miami. He is hardly rewarded with the teams 2008 playoff team or the turn around. Instead, many cite the play of Chad Pennington and the use of the Wild Cat package that took the league by storm and surprise.
Sparano was never able to repeat that 2008 success as Dan Henning continued to over play the WC in 2009 and 2010 with little or no success. Jeff Ireland made no attempts to get Sparano a solid quarterback to push Chad Henne and it is often argued that Henne himself was held down by an offensive coordinator that Tony Sparano could not fire.
Finally, when Sparano gets out from under the thumb of Bill Parcells’ Dan Henning hire, Stephe Ross courts Jim Harbaugh, Sparano teeters on the unknown heading into the off-season, and finally after getting a vote of confidence…and a two year extension…the NFL locks out it’s players. Taking away a full off-season to implement a new offensive system with a new offensive coordinator.
Which brings us to the final comments about this team. The Dolphins under Brian Daboll are no better than they were under Dan Henning. Ranked 30th in the NFL in points scored, the Dolphins offense has scored 7 touchdowns in 6 games with three of those 6 pointers coming in the opening weekend against New England.
The Dolphins have a long way to go to become a good team and that will be the task of Stephen Ross and whomever he hires to coach the team. It’s a sad situation in Miami right now as everyone, even Sparano knows that the weeks are numbered at 10 maximum and any week could bring a change. While the players have yet to point fingers now, that will soon change as the losing continues, especially if Sparano is gone.
Sparano really holds the team together and they emulate that part of him. Sparano has never thrown a player under the bus and the players are not throwing him under one either…not yet. It’s unlikely that Sparano makes it to the final week of the season and many believe that a loss this week in New York to the Giants will bring a change heading into the half-way point of the season.
If that is the case, and whether it is this week or next, Ross would be smart to make Todd Bowles his interim head coach over Mike Nolan. Bowles is a highly regarded assistant and a coach who has interviewed for other HC vacancies, the last being for the Vikings vacancy that eventually would go Leslie Frasier. For Ross, the interim tag would also satisfy the Rooney Rule and aid in moving the final search for a top HC in January to conclusion.
It’s still a sad situation to be talking about the reality of what next year will hold while still in week 6 of the regular season. Especially when the season is still so early that you can’t even figure out what teams are going to separate in their divisions.