Are Dolphins Heading In The Right Direction?

Many Miami Dolphins fans have already pushed the panic button.  They are ready to place blame.  Some have cancelled their Sunday Ticket package, others their season tickets.  If you listen to some of them talk, second round pick Jonathan Martin is a bust, Joe Philbin and his coaching staff will not turn the team around, and Jeff Ireland is still the worst GM in NFL history.

The one thing about all that above is this.  It’s their opinion, they are entitled to it and nothing I say or you say will change that.  The only thing that will change that perception and opinion is winning.  At the very least, a sign that the Dolphins are heading in the right direction.

Philbin appears on camera as a man with a sense of drive and honor.  He appears to have a designed plan in front of him that doesn’t seem to waver from.  Mike Sherman is the “been there done that” former head coach while Kevin Coyle turned around a pathetic Cincinnati Bengal secondary.  In Miami, they haven’t done anything yet.  Two games into pre-season, as in the game that don’t count, the Dolphins have not won a single game.   Yet it’s not the won/loss record that has fans in an uproar, it’s play quality on the field.

The Dolphins offense, that new shiny west coast thingymajig, is stagnant.  So far it looks more like the regular season play calling under Dan Henning and Brian Daboll.  Where is the vertical down-field passing game?  Where is the disguised running game and the RB on LB pass coverage we expected?  Where is the sign of life?

Defensively it’s much worse, if that is possible.  The secondary can’t cover, TE’s still have free reign down the field, there is no pass rush, and the front four can’t stop the run.  As fans we talk about guys like Jeff Fuller and Chris Hogan making an impact at the WR position or signing Plaxico Burress because everyone else on our team sucks.  Defensively we are not talking about a guy like Olivier Vernon but instead un-drafted rookie Derrick Shelby.

What’s to be excited about?

Well, if I sit here and point out that it is just pre-season and that the coaches are not implementing any game planning at all, that they are simply lining up players and evaluating what they can and can’t do, then I’m an idiot who sucks at this job and am basically spewing company line BS.  Of course it would only serve to throw back into my face the outcome of this weeks third pre-season game when the team will likely fall again after they actually did game-plan for the Falcons.

It’s really a no-win situation for anyone that has not either pressed the panic button or at least put it on the desk in front of them.

Are there problems with this team?  Yes, of course there is.  They are learning a new system on both sides of the ball and new CBA rules don’t allow the same style of practicing that was allowed in the past.  Implementation of any system comes with time and the one player who seems to have grasped it the most is Ryan Tannehill who ran it in college with Mike Sherman.

The problems with the WR’s are glaring.  You can’t escape from that at all.  The right side of the line, specifically rookie Jonathan Martin makes the team look more like Tony Sparano’s Oline than the new and improved “athletic” line that Philbin is looking for.  The more that Martin struggles, the more fans will point to the use of a 2nd round pick on him over a WR who could be helping solve the outside problem as we speak.

It’s hard to know if the team is heading in the right direction because we don’t know what we haven’t seen on the field.  How vanilla is this defense and offense through two weeks of the season?  Are the players going through the motions or are they truly hungry for a win when it matters the least?  Is Joe Philbin coaching from the sidelines or is observing?  Simply, we don’t know.  What we do know is that if this is the teaser trailer for 2012, Dolphins fans aren’t interested in buying.

The team needs to show more.  Perhaps not so much of the blitz packages and blocking stunts but more of the desire to the affect that they are putting forth the effort.  It appears that some players, like Shelby, Hogan, and Fuller, are putting forth much more effort than some of the others.  That has to change.

Yes, it’s just pre-season, no it doesn’t matter, no there is no reason to push the panic button.  Come in off the ledge and stop trying to predict what you are seeing on the field now as being what we will see on the field in three weeks.  It may be the same it may not be.

Perhaps what I find the most troubling when I read the negativity is that this team is changing.  It’s moving away from the slow methodical Sparano era into a faster driven team.  That takes time.  Very few in the media and just as many fans would tell you that expectations for this season were never really all that high.  Predictions of 6 -10 or 8-8 at best.  Yet without having one game go into either column, everyone is a failure.

If there is one thing that I will agree with everyone is, fans are desperate for a change.  Desperate for wins.  Desperate for a product on the field that isn’t ridiculed at every turn.  Maybe Joe Philbin is the guy, maybe he isn’t.  We sure as hell don’t know that one way or the other after two pre-season games and I would venture to say that regardless of this seasons outcome, we won’t know for sure either.  A lot of people thought the 11-5 first season with Sparano was the turning around and we see how quickly that ended.

Pre-season football.  Where the Jaguars, Browns, and Seahawks are undefeated and the Steelers and Packers haven’t won a game.

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Tags: Jeff Ireland Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins

  • Heywood Yablowme

    Hey Brian, you act like it’s premature to push the panic button but we’ve seen this crap for over 20 years. Ireland is a bum, he’s shown us that year in and year out. Philbin has zero HC experience and was hired by Ireland. What makes you think we don’t know what we’re talking about when we follow this team closely as fans. Oh, I guess your opinion is the only one that counts. You know the one that proclaimed Henne would be a great QB? LMAO

    • $2136593

      What Brian is saying, HY, if you take the trouble to read and then think, rather than just executing a drive-by self-soiling, is that this team was in trouble last year, is trying to transform both on offense and defense – and you can’t judge the results of that complex maneuver based on two pre-season games. And no, you obviously don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to football.

      • Heyward

        And you do? LMAO. What I’m saying if you read the post is that Brian is no expert, not even an accurate evaluator of talent (Henne). Before you go polluting the net why don’t you educate yourself on our team and it’s failures?

        • txmedic5

          no I will be the first to say I am not an expert but I have a lot more connection to the team and what is going on down there than most ‘average’ and casual fans. In fact, I have a better idea of what is going on down there than a lot in the national media. Maybe that’s why I am linked often or quoted in the, I don’t know. NY Times, Washington Post,, SportsIllustrated, and handled the info for CBS sports coverage of the NFL draft two years ago.

          But like you said, I don’t know anything.

  • Roosteer

    Beware of the apologist fan who suggests you calm down. It is HE who
    inspires acceptance of mediocrity. PLEASE do not “calm down”. While I
    have the utmost respect our coach and I do not know x’s and o’s, we HAVE
    to help keep the bar raised high here and it’s hard to do when people
    sing lullabies.

    • Samantha2012

      There’s nothing you can do but wait. This is a new regime. We can discuss all we want, which is fine, but keep the pitchforks home. I don’t like what’s going on right now, but how many times are we going to change coaches? Every year? You think we can win like that? I don’t think Miami’s ever going to win again untill three things happen. One, we have some stability, two, great coaches, three, great drafts. Parcells came and brought number one, but nothing else, because Tony was a joke of a coach, and the drafts were a disaster. Now, we’re back to no stability. But we did add some good coaches in Philbin, Sherman and Coyle. That leaves the draft. So far, I’m crossing my fingers.

      • Heywood

        Samantha, dear, you’re a genius too. Wait? How long? How about another twenty or thirty years. And yes you can change coaches every year, look at the Niners they almost went to the SB with Harbaugh. You know the coach we let get away because we suck in the front office. Honey you don’t know much do you?

  • Fins4ever

    Heywood ya blowme? Now there is a name that commands instant respect and makes me value your opinion.

    Brian is exactly right in saying it is too early to panic and 2 preseason games is not nearly enough time to incorporate a new system on both sides of the ball. The most important factor will be if we see continual improvement.

    If you look at the history of preseason there is no correlation of either success or failure based on wins or losses. I am reserving opinion until after the opening game with Houston and if you are smart, you will too.

  • Samantha2012

    I think everyone who has seen Miami play are getting that oh no, feeling. We “fixed” what was not broken by changing the D scheme, and installed a complicated WCO which has everyone on the offense flat-footed. Which, btw, had the added bonus side-effect of seemingly destroying the run game, which over the past couple years has not been a strength, anyway, and now is literally, non-existent. When Ryan handed off and we got no yards, and went 3 and out two times, I thought to myself, we are in huge trouble if we can’t run.
    But that is all about this season. What about the future? Fans are able to see it with Tannehill, but who else? Round two, maybe we got a decent tackle in the draft, but he has to switch positions, which every sports expert predicted would be problematic. Then in the 3rd round we picked up Egnew, which we learned on HK, played bad enough for his coach to threaten to cut him. (Meanwhile, someone like Ladarius Green, a TE who has longer arms and bigger hands than Egnew, and is faster, is lighting it up with the Chargers.)
    So it’s more than about a winning or losing record. It’s about management and drafting and FA. A year from now, if we don’t look back on this draft and player decisions and be very happy with it, and build on it with another great draft, you’re going to lose a lot of fans. A lot.
    So that’s why every move is treated with scrutiny. That’s why when you have a guy like Y.Bell on the team who can teach youngsters and be a positive locker room presence, be cut, people worry…and think, where is the infrastructure, the organization, the veterans? Jason Taylor is gone from the locker room. Who’s in there, Dansby, who’s complaining about Chad being cut? And frankly, maybe he’s right. This team has to think about addition, not subtraction. They got rid of Brandon, brought in Chad, then cut Chad. If the Dolphins are that thin-skinned, they shouldn’t have brought Chad on to begin with. Cutting him was a negative, and some of the players really liked him, and our corners liked practicing with him. Whose going to challenge Sean and Vonte in practice, Bess? It’s not a good thing. Ask Jimmy Johnson, he’ll tell you he would have said NO to hard knocks and YES to keeping Chad.
    It’s all about decisions, not just the talent on a roster any particular moment, because one affects the other. We don’t know what direction we’re going in. So in answer to your question, are we headed in the right direction? We won’t know this year. I feel confident with Philbin, but I don’t love how he handled Chad, and I don’t love how ill-prepared this team is.

  • bill

    Ok I’m getting sick of all this ridicule for the writers on this page. With the whole henne thing in the beggining EVERYONE thought henne would be good. Same as we think about Tannehill. Its just called being confident in your teams guy. Noone is forcing you to read these articles. So lay off if ur coming in with no knoweledge just to ridicule “your favorite team” when they are just getting started. It takes time to implement 2 way new systems. Bill cowher didn’t do very well his first year . And tony dungy didn’t either. But those are 2 great coaches.

    • Heywood

      Bill, don’t tell me how to think. It’s a public forum and if the writer writes garbage then I’m saying so. You are the problem. Accepting medicrrity when it is obvious and your only solution is to “wait.” Genius. We’ve waited long enough the seeds of failure have not been removed in Ireland, Ross, and now Philbin. In your world you would have given Henne another six years. That’s a loser mentality.