Heading Down To Miami Today…Dolphins Really Are A Good Football Team
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins really are a good football team and by the end of this article, I plan to have your spirits up and your face smiling. 3-5 record? Bah-humbug to quote the top weekend movie “A Christmas Carol”. By the way, is it just me or has that story been told way too much? How about a real remake where Scrooge doesn’t give a rat about his future and hordes more money to prevent it and Tiny Tim simply just goes to see a specialist with his family’s un-insured government assistance? Oh, I digress.
So today, in a few hours I will be leaving the rain soaked grounds of North Carolina, being drenched with the remnants of Ida, for the sunny skies of Miami, Fl. My annual trip to Miami will have a stop in Orlando tonight before making the final 3 to 4 hour trip to the Plantation hotel I will be staying at. The weekend promises to be enjoyable once again as I will tour both the practice facility and the stadium which will include stops in both locker rooms for the Phins. If there is anything you would specifically like to see video of, please send me an Email at Bmiller.email@example.com may have to copy and paste that into your Email bar. Title your topic, “I want to see” and if I have access to it, you will see it in either video or photo form when I get back.
I will also be involved with a team organized function Saturday night where we get to talk with some of the management team and sometimes the head coach. Any real questions you want me to ask? On Sunday, I will be in the club level seating thanks to the Dolphins and will be at the Nat Moore BBQ Bash at 11:00 AM at the stadium. If your going, shoot me an Email and maybe we can meet and put a face behind the names.
Now, I did promise, sort of, to make you realize just how good this team really is so let’s get to some Dolphins football…shall we?
The Dolphins enter this weekend with a 3-5 record and if you ask most fans, they will tell you that it is very disappointing. As AFC East Division winners a year removed, one would expect more from a team that has grown by a year. Still, it’s apparent that we have and we have not. The New England Patriots have a commanding lead in the division and the Phins find themselves 3 games back in the chase. The Patriots have a tough road ahead with two un-beaten teams on their schedules. Still, the Dolphins hole is getting close to insurmountable.
Are you smiling yet? O.k. me sitting here telling you that the remaining schedule of the Phins has only 3 teams with winning records hardly will make you smile. Those teams are New England ( a must win), Houston who is one game over .500, and Pittsburgh who is in a race for their division. The Jaguars are sitting at .500 leaving the rest of the schedule below that mark. Carolina, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee. Win out and the Phins have 11 wins. Impossible? No. Unlikely? Yes. Chances are the Dolphins could lose one or even two of those games. 3 isn’t even out of the question and a 9-7 record isn’t likely to buy a playoff birth. Still not smiling are you?
O.k. enough with my playing around. Sit back, relax, and realize that this Miami Dolphins team is something special. Wipe away the record for starters. It means nothing in terms of what this team or their coaches are doing. Yes, they want to win, and yes they are trying to win. But the overall picture is much broader and that painting isn’t even half way done yet.
Let’s play the “do you realize game“. The one where I point out some huge facts that normally, even by me, go unnoticed in the overall scheme of things. So, do you realize that…
The Dolphins have played the toughest schedule of any NFL team? They got beat in week one by Atlanta in a game they could have won. They got beat by San Diego in a game that they should have won, and they have been beaten by 2 unbeaten teams and one team that is 6-2. And to really gauge that optimistically, they should have won two of those and could have beaten the Patriots.
The Dolphins are starting two rookie cornerbacks. With the injury to Will Allen, the Dolphins were forced to plug in both rookies on the outside and boy have they delivered. These are a duo of rooks that have not simply faced a group of no-name WR’s. They have handled, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne, Terrel Owens, Roddy White, Randy Moss, Marques Colston, and Braylon Edwards…twice. Of those WR’s, only Edwards and Moss had terrific days and Edwards’ success came in the first game with Will Allen healthy and Moss’ came at the rate of one very good catch in excellent coverage by Vontae’ Davis and then on Gibril Wilson who didn’t cover over the middle. To further take this into perspective, the Dolphins are now playing fellow rookie Chris Clemons more at safety.
Still not impressed? Do you realize that the Dolphins opened this season facing the following?
Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Trent Edwards, Mark Sanchez, Drew Brees, Mark Sanchez, and Tom Brady. While Sanchez is a rookie, the Dolphins beat him twice, and Edwards has since been benched in Buffalo (the Dolphins other win). Still, their losses are not to guys named Culpepper. These are pro-bowl elite QB’s and the Phins came within minutes to beating them.
Do you realize the Dolphins are starting a QB that until this year had two professional plays from the line of scrimmage. Entering the Dolphins match-up with the Jets in week 4, Mark Sanchez had more NFL playing time than Chad Henne. Henne has been tabbed for 3 interceptions. The first was a pick 6 on his second drive in San Diego when he came in for an injured Chad Pennington, the second was on Ted Ginn who dropped a perfectly thrown ball…that went back for a pick 6, and the final INT came against NO on the final offensive play for the Dolphins when his receiver cut in instead of out. Also a pick 6. Still, despite his “2” INT’s. Henne has been hit quite often in the pocket and has only fumbled once that I can recall. His passes are crisp and most of the time are on target. This is the future QB for the Dolphins and he is playing very well despite his statistics. Remember, he isn’t in the game every play because of the WC.
That the Phins have had their second consecutive successful draft. Last years draft has yielded a franchise LT, a starting guard, two starting quality DE’s, an ST contributing RB, and a starting QB. This years draft has given the team a starting WR in Brian Hartline, two starting CB’s, a contributing safety, and a solid back up tackle in Andrew Gardner.
This years Miami Dolphins is only in their second year of a massive rebuild project that included a rookie NFL head coach last season.
The Dolphins are only two years removed from a 1-15 season. Which in and of itself was 3 months removed from a quitting Nick Saban, who was two years removed from a bumbling Dave Wannstedt. The Dolphins finally matter. Teams are not overlooking these Dolphins like they have the last 6 seasons prior to this regime.
Do you realize that in the one and one half season that Bill Parcells and company have been here that the Dolphins are currently 14 and 10 as opposed to being 20 and 44 over the 4 seasons prior? Of this regimes losses, 3 came opening up the first season schedule under Sparano and 3 others came at the expense of this years opening 3 game grueling schedule. That means that despite those 6 games, the Dolphins have only lost a total of 4 games.
Do you realize that this team went from being one of the oldest teams to one of the youngest in two seasons. 39 members of the current roster have 5 years or less service time in the NFL. Of those 39 players, 23 players have two or less? The Dolphins have only 3 players in double digit time and one player has 9 seasons and another has 8. The remaining roster is comprised of veterans who have 6 years experience. AMAZING.
It’s easy to sit and get angry because the Dolphins have not been able to close out teams like the Saints, Colts, and even New England. It’s disconcerting when they allow a team like the Jets back into two games. But then you realize the youth that is on this team and the actual playing experience and then realize that this group of management has done the following:
Spent money in free agency on one busted WR…Ernest Wilford, spent money on an non-factor safety Gibril Wilson…and basically those are their only misses. They have under-spent in two seasons of free agency concentrating more on keeping their core together and not only have completely retooled their salary cap situation, but also have managed to put most of their resources to solid drafts.
This regime started with a plan and have not ventured far from it. They addressed the offensive line and DE’s in draft one…and hit so far on both. They addressed Cornerback and safety in year 2 and so far have hit on both. They have addressed some young WR’s who have yet to make an impact but at least one looks promising in Hartline. Oh, and they also addressed the starting QB position and the back-up position as well.
Next year, the Phins will likely touch on two other areas of the team, presumably LB and possibly one number 1 WR.
So I promised to make you smile. To feel good about this teams direction despite the record so far. Well, it’s simple. Look at all that above and realize that it all comes with a group of very young individuals, a 1.5 year experienced head coach and despite all of that, this team has been in position to nail the coffin closed on 3 of the NFL’s elite teams. The problem? LB pressure on the QB which has yet to be addressed and a safety (Wilson) who has not lived up to his billing. Couple that with drops by Ted Ginn who likely won’t be around much longer, critical fumbles by Davone Bess, and absolutely zero number 1 WR on the roster.
This is a Miami Dolphins team that heading so far into the right direction that the only way we don’t see it is when we look strictly at the win/loss numbers. We all expected more from a defending division winner but in reality, this team is younger and less experienced than the unit last year and have played to date, far better teams than what we saw last season and yet we have not been blown out in one single game this year.
It’s hard to smile when you look at the division standings and realize that your chances are slipping. But when you think about the Jets “win now” approach and the aging New England Patriots who spent a lot of free agent money over the last several years, you really have to smile at where this team is heading.
This is a very good football team who for all intent and purposes is so young at key positions (secondary, oline, and QB) that they shouldn’t be winning anything. And yet if nothing else, they are winning respect.
Do you want to smile? Take everything in I just said and then close your eyes and imagine what these guys will be like when they mature enough to know how to play this game at this level. These guys have the potential to be something more than simply… great.