The Dolphins are over .500 for the first time in 3 years and the key to their success has been Player Development.
When Joe Philbin was originally hired, he spoke of developing players and putting them in positions to succeed.
At the time this may have rang hollow for the few who saw this as nothing more than coach speak.
Just more empty promises that the program will yield results.
Well, half way through this season, anyone can look back on those statements coach Philbin made and concur that he has followed through on his promises and is getting the most out of his players.
Testament to this development are the players on both sides of the football having career years and finally living up to the potential Jeff Ireland saw in them when originally bringing them in.
On a team with a lack of stars and explosive playmakers, the system, schemes, & program are looking to be the biggest factor in the team’s success.
Of course the players on the field are the ones making the plays but think about how most of the same players who helped the Dolphins out to a 0-7 start last season, are the ones serving as catalysts for a team that is one game over .500.
Finally playing meaningful games in November for the first time in 3 seasons.
That has to be coaching. Right?
What else can explain it? These are the same guys who suffered from a lack of focus and mental fortitude last season but are now focusing on the small details and closing out games.
At times earlier in the year, after 2 overtime defeats, it looked like the same problems were going to persist, but the coaching staff held true to the program, continuing to preach fundamentals, having players be honest with themselves while watching the film and actually correcting mistakes.
These things fall on the coaching staff to guide their players in the right direction, building on the positives & infusing confidence in their players that they could break through.
That they had the mental makeup to exhibit the fortitude needed to finish plays and in turn finish games.
Then came a road win in Cincinnati that validated the players belief in the program and sparked a winning streak.
In this winning streak you are seeing individuals all over the field making impacts in all phases of the game.
When was the last time the Dolphins had a special teams unit that had this much of an impact on the outcome of a game than the unit we are seeing this year?
The Jimmy Johnson era?
And even then, was it like this? Maybe the FG kicking was but never the coverage & return units.
When was the last time we saw a secondary that had multiple players with multiple picks?
It was the days when we fielded a secondary with Brock Marion, Brian Walker, Terrell Buckley, Sam Madison & Pat Surtain.
The rapid development of Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Sean Smith, Nolan Carroll, & Jimmy Wilson have turned a certain weakness into a strength that has helped their defense field one of the best 3rd down defenses in the league.
Depth will only get better too, once Richard Marshall gets his body to cooperate with him.
Yea their ranking in yards allowed is low but that’s because teams are forced to throw the ball 30+ times a game just to have a chance to even move the ball, seeing as how teams have next to no chance at establishing a run game.
The right side of an o line that was supposed to be the Achilles heel of the unit has yet to be exposed all season and that’s not say for a lack of trying on the part of the opposition, who have blitzed repeatedly only to get stonewalled and burnt.
As the season continues to progress, the coaching staff’s hope is that their players development will too.
If the early results are any indication then expectations for this team can be to be playing meaningful games in December and possibly into January.
One way to keep that player development progression in ascension is to keep the winning streak alive for as long as possible and when it ends, be quick to start a new one.