Being a Miami Dolphins follower is tough business. It is not uncommon for their loyal supporters to be chastised in the local and national blogs as fair weather fans. Rather, these blistered and weathered fans have earned their stripes to complain. Empty promises and false prophets have littered the sidelines since the days of Don Shula. A common theme has existed from burnouts (Jimmy Johnson) and retreads (Dave Wannstedt) to courage-less (Nick Saban) and over-matched (Tony Sparano). None of them had the ability to follow through on the original plan to develop and win. You see, being a Dolphins fan means expecting to be disappointed, like the spouse of an unfaithful partner. There just isn’t any belief left in the trust bank.
The Miami Dolphins loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was a masterpiece of a sort that only the Dolphins could produce. There is only Ying or Yang and no in between with these Dolphins. The Dolphins will either show up and play inspired football as evidence by their recent month long play, or they will face any sense of adversity and collapse. The Dolphins have perfected the total breakdown much like the Chicago Cubs have done in baseball. The Dolphins ineptitude has more to do with mental toughness than physical.
The Dolphins have proven that they simply cannot compete while mired in adversity. When a starter is injured or a player moving up the depth chart is called upon, well you might as well place your bets in Las Vegas, because that player is sure to fail. There are many reasons why a team cannot overcome adversity and sometimes it does relate directly to the talent left on the roster, but the sign of a competent organization is to build a roster of depth while developing and harnessing mental toughness amongst younger players for the eventual likelihood that they can step into a prominent role. Its a model of consistency that the Pittsburgh Steelers have lived by for years.
If this weren’t the case than why is that other teams such as the Patriots, Steelers and Texans can be decimated by injuries and find a silver lining in a way the Dolphins once did when Earl Morrall stepped in for Bob Griese? The goal is to compete and win where one person is never bigger than the team and all parts are interchangeable. As a matter of fact, just a few years ago a Tom Brady injury made Matt Cassel a household name and a very rich man. The Pittsburgh Steelers went to the playoffs with a guy named Tommy Maddox after he stepped in for an injured starter.Yes, the same Tommy Maddox (See Video) that was supposed to be John Elway’s heir apparent in Denver and one of the prominent reasons that Dan Reeves got fired in both Denver and New York.
The Dolphins need everything to be just right or the wheels go flying. Player development means more than 40 times and vertical jumps because the Dolphins have actually drafted decently under the direction of Jeff Ireland. Unfortunately, adding players of considerable talent is only half the battle. If a front office and coaching staff draft players that posses qualities that they desire but cant nurture their development than there is no vision. A vision-less organization looks something like the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions over the last decade. Sadly, the Miami Dolphins are on this list as well.
The Dolphins have plenty of talent to compete with most teams in the NFL and if you think I’m crazy than maybe you should ask T.J. Houshmandzadeh again. Any personnel and talent evaluator worth his salt will tell you that the Dolphins have most of the pieces in place to be a playoff caliber team. Every team has flaws, right? The Packers defense covers like Channing Crowder and the Patriots roster churning has left their defense with many holes. The difference between these organizations and the Dolphins is that the players on these other teams are cultivated in an environment that EXPECTS and anticipates success under adverse situations.
The Miami Dolphins have a roster full of ” Cheerleader players” (Bill Parcells favorite) up and down their roster. Getting on the field is enough satisfaction for a cheerleader player, whereas the teams like the Steelers expect the next guy in line to buckle their chin strap and win the game. The Dolphins have a confidence problem and it runs far deeper than the players. The Dolphins don’t trust the next guy in line. Just ask John Jerry who was benched after a stellar game against the Raiders for a lumbering and overvalued Vernon Carey. The Coaching staff has stifled confidence in these developing players while playing it safe with the same old tired approach. I guarantee you, John Jerry would have started for the Patriots or Steelers on Sunday and maybe their quarterback wouldn’t have been treated like a matador without his red cape.
Joe Robbie and Don Shula, boy did we have it good!