Ryan Tannehill is a rookie. Joe Philbin is a head coach. Who else has bothered to step up for the Miami Dolphins to take over this team as a leader? The answer is nobody.
Offensively, Jake Long should be the leader but instead of stepping up his play, he has slid away from being the top LT in the game and now is looking much more average. Routinely getting beaten by back-up defenders. That’s enough for sure, but Long has also been regularly called for holding, given up sacks, and has seemed confused in the Dolphins offensive system.
Reggie Bush emerged as a leader early in the season. About the time he was leading the league in rushing or close to it. Since the Dolphins rushing attack has faltered, so has Reggie’s leadership. Instead of stepping up to the role, he has taken a more quiet role both on and off the field. Bush simply isn’t playing motivated and it shows.
Anthony Fasano has never been a vocal leader, likely due to the fact that his on-field production is too erratic. Still, you would expect a veteran to step up and help. That hasn’t happened as of yet. Nor has it with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. One would think that Jabbar Gaffney would have brought some leadership to the offense but he has played one game of the four Miami has suited up for since his arrival.
For his part, Ryan Tannehill seems to be trying but until he is ready to get into a veteran’s face and make his case, he won’t be that undeniable leader. He needs to make those around him accountable for their play and his own. Of the entire offense, only Center Mike Pouncey seems to be motivated to do the talking. Pouncey is having a great season but if your center is the leader of your team, you have bigger issues.
Where is the player council leaders? Jake Long, Reggie Bush, and Karlos Dansby who wanted to form their own internal leadership council? Well, we covered two of them. Let’s do the other.
Karlos Dansby has run off the leadership page. He doesn’t step up consistently on the field and seems more interested in his own numbers than team wins. He has dropped two sure INT’s for points in the last two weeks and his coverage skills are beginning to wane. While his play may have hit a wall, a veteran of his stature should be talking for the defense on and off the field. That hasn’t been the case.
Dansby isn’t rallying the troops on the sidelines and isn’t trying to get the young guys fired up for every play. I have said this before, if you are a veteran who plays 100%, half of the time, you send the message to the younger guys that it is o.k. to play 50% all of the time. That does not win football games. It does not teach a player how to be a winner and with the Dolphins a very young team, it’s players like Dansby who need to step up and actually be leaders.
The same could be said about Cameron Wake and Kevin Burnett. The thing is outside of those few, there are too young of players who are either just now starting or are seeing their first real action at this level. They can’t be expected to be leaders when they can’t learn to be players.
The Dolphins are riding a three game losing streak at a time when they should be winning. Somewhere someone has shut down. One of the early season leaders, or all of them, have simply quit. It’s a bad trend that will either force a younger guy to take that role or another season that will fall down the drain as it already has started to. The lack of veteran leadership is a major problem for this team but the bigger issue is why are those players still on this team?
Which of course leads to the question of which ones will still be around in 2013. The Dolphins need play-makers. They need on-field leadership more.