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.