There is an excitement in the air surrounding the 2011 Miami Dolphins. A three game winning streak, two of which were at home, an exciting offensive package that is using the likes of Matt Moore, Reggie Busht, and Charles Clay the way they should be used. Two 30 plus point totals in two of those three, and finally a defense that has more sacks and QB pressures than points allowed. 18 if you don’t count Sunday’s offensive safety.
Yes, the Miami Dolphins are playing at a level that we haven’t seen in years. No, I don’t count the 2008 miracle season that surrounded the Wild Cat package. Exciting? Yes, absolutely, good for the franchise? Not even close. So here we are once again, exciting? Yes, absolutely, good for the franchise? Not likely.
The players want to talk about playoff chances and you yourself can’t honestly deny that you haven’t at least looked at the standings to see if there is any real chance of it happening. You may have even taken a quick count of how many teams must skid to the bottom before Miami can move up. Well, here is the reality of all this winning. The Dolphins will not make the playoffs and they won’t give it a great run. Sure, they may finish strong and who knows maybe even win out…wouldn’t that be an awesome turnaround? But they have nothing but mathematical scenarios keeping them alive right now.
The team currently stands at 3-7 along with three other teams, only Jacksonville is in their conference. In terms of conference standings the Dolphins are 15th out of 16 teams. That means they are not dead last but they are no where near the top. After Sunday’s games, the Dolphins need to pick up three games to contend with Cincy, they would need the other 7 teams at 4 and 5 wins to lose as well. It’s not happening.
Winning is exciting and watching this team play they way they have the last three weeks actually makes you a little angry. To think they could have played with this “back against the wall us against the world” mentality for the first seven weeks. It took campaigns of “Suck for Luck”, fans and media calling out players like Dansby and Davis, it took a media and fan near riot to oust the head coach after week 5. Now, winning is killing this team.
If you take a look at the standings for the NFL, the Dolphins have slid from first overall pick three weeks ago to sixth overall pick as of today. Let’s consider the possibility that the Dolphins do in fact win out their season and never really are in contention for a playoff spot. If that were to happen and the standings stayed relatively the same, the Dolphins would pick around the 20th spot. In other words, the difference between being 9-7 and not making the post season and finishing 3-7 is about 14 draft slots.
Of course the argument could be made that if the team continues to role like they have and do in fact finish 9-7, the Dolphins likely have their future QB in Matt Moore and thus don’t need to draft that high.
The days of talking Andrew Luck are over and there is wide speculation that USC’s Matt Barkley will stay in school, and my Finsradio co-host James L., has heard some chatter out of Oklahoma that Landry Jones may stay for his senior year. Imagine the shake-up in draft predictions if all three decided to stay in school?
For me this is no longer about draft positioning or the next QB search or even who will be the next head coach. I mean if this team finishes that strong Sparano should be considered a coach of the year candidate…he would lose to Harbaugh in San Fran. To me this is about learning and growing as a team. The Dolphins have finally found a rhythm that works and it’s inspiring. The afternoons on Sunday’s are fun again and I suspect this Thanksgiving we will see a good game instead of a route. Maybe a route for the Dolphins.
These Dolphins have a ways to go before they finish with another six in a row, but leadership continues to emerge on both sides of the ball and that is a positive no matter how you look at it.