There, I said it. I said it aloud, I typed it for all to see, I’m now on record. The Miami Dolphins will compete for the playoffs….THIS YEAR!
If you don’t know me, I don’t talk playoffs. Too many years without them to really believe enough changes have been made to warrant that kind of blind faith. So, here I am, falling on that same “blind faith“, once again.
Consider last year we were 6-10 and had we had an offense, we easily would have won a possible 6 or 7 more games. That gets us into the playoffs.
But what has changed?
We lost Wes Welker, Randy McMichael, and Olindo Mare. We also lost Bennie Anderson, Jeno James, Damion McIntosh, and Seth McKinney on the offensive line, and really didn’t add much to replace them.
I know, I know, saying that the biggest addition is Cam Cameron is a cop out, and if I said that is why this team will be better, you would be right. But I am not going to say that.
If we go back to the 04 off-season, we saw a training camp battle between Jay Fiedler and A.J. “I jammed my finger” Feely. It was such a battle that the QB’s split time with the first team unit every other series. In 05 it was Feely, Frerrote, and Rosenfels. Last year it was Lemon, Culpepper, and Harrington. See a pattern here?
No questions this year, like it or love it, it is Trent Green. Oh there is a competition with Cleo Lemon and John Beck, but it is not an every other series on the first unit competition. Green is on the first unit, and there he will stay unless he loses it.
That brings something that in the last 4 years we have not had. Opportunity. Opportunity for the entire offensive unit to work together from the end of May instead of waiting until the middle to end of August.
The offensive line will not have to change their play every other series to accomodate a different style of QB. The receivers don’t have to try and learn the tendencies of multiple QB’s, or try and get the timing down with all of them at once. Everyone knows who the starter is.
Ask Chris Chambers and he will tell you that it is a breath of fresh air.
That is the biggest difference this year. It’s not specifically about the system, it’s not about Cameron, it’s about consistency it’s about continuity, timing and trust. And now we have some.
Over the past three seasons we have debated who would be the starting QB, we have debated whether the late pre-season shuffle of the interior Oline makes sense given the timing, and of course since we wouldn’t know who the QB was, neither would the receivers.
A lot is being argued now over the whole Daunte-Trent “where’s the competition” thing. You know what, after thinking back over the last few years and watching the “competitions” unfold, I really don’t want to see another one. I’m fine with turning it over to one guy, giving him all the reps, giving him the keys. It may not be the guy that some fans wanted, but at least it is “one” guy.
Over the last 3 years by month, our record indicates no offensive continuity. It is taking the team on average 2.5 months to start showing any consistency in production.
October: W2 – L10
November: W6-L6. This includes a 4 game win streak last year.
In each of the last 3 years, the QB “competition” has given us nothing. Except losses. By the time the offense found any rythm it was too late for the season, and too late for the QB.
Not this year. This year the offense doesn’t have to wait to find its’ rythm until November. They will not try and get on the same page starting in September, they already have. September, October, November? This year, June, July, and August. We have 1 starter, it is his job to lose.
I said that we have a shot at the playoffs this year, that we will “compete” for the playoffs this year. It is not because of the Cam Cameron system, it is not because we brought in David Marten or Trent Green or because we got rid of some underachieving veterans. It’s because we have a quarterback, and because unlike the years past, our offense has something they have not had in more than a few years, “Time“. They now have the time to get acclimated. To learn. The coaches have the time to make adjustments, time to implement the system and do so to the strengths of the entire unit, and not one guy.
That is what has been lacking on this team. Our defense is top 5 year in and year out. There is rarely a question during camp as to who is going to line up where.
Our defense should be better. Porter is a solid addition to a top NFL unit. With a better offense, they should see the sidelines more than their backs see their own end-zone. They should get more rest.
This offense does not have to produce huge scoring numbers. They don’t have to lead the league statistically. They only need to be consistent. They only need to play like a team.
Injuries notwithstanding, we have talent on offense. Ronnie Brown is not a great running back yet, but he is very good. Chambers is up and down, but he has talent. Green is 37, but he has the credentials to be a leader. The offensive line has Hudson Houck. Need I say more.
This Miami team is dividing fans left and right due to the changes that have been made. Some of these changes I may not like, some of these changes I do. Yet for years, we listen to the debates of who we have and who we have not, instead of the actual play and why that play is the way it is. We ask ourselves why we make late season runs or mid to late season streaks before the wheels fall off. It’s continuity.
I do think the Dolphins will make a run at the playoffs. The talent is there on defense, the talent is not completely lacking on offense. What has been missing is the opportunity that time alone can afford, continuity. This year, we have the time to develop some, before the season starts.