Four Down, Twelve To Go


Well, minus a Monday Night Football game, believe it or not we are 1/4 through the regular season already. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this up throughout the season, but I figured it’d be interesting to give some observations of what I’ve seen at milestones throughout the season (1/4, half, etc.). We will see how it goes.

Naturally, we’ll start with the team that this site is dedicated to. Right now, the Dolphins are currently on pace to finish the season 0-16. The good news is…oh, who am I kidding, there is no good news. We all knew the Phins wouldn’t be a Super Bowl team, but consensus between both experts and fans alike say that this team has too much talent on their roster to be THIS bad. It’s true.

It’s tough to figure out what is going on in Miami, but I’m pretty sure we know one thing for sure: unless the Dolphins go 12-0 from here on out (and they won’t), Tony Sparano will not be the head coach of this team in 2012. The question actually seems to be, will Sparano be the head coach of this team for the Jets game in week 6? My answer is no. This fanbase is depleted. The players are dejected. There is no life in Miami, and Tony Sparano is obviously not the guy to breathe life back into them. If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I think it will be beneficial to everyone involved to get Sparano out and let the new guy come in and play a half season or so with this team before jumping into the offseason.

I can’t blame everything on Sparano though. The schedule for the first four weeks of the season has been pretty brutal, and it doesn’t get much easier. If anything, the fact that the Dolphins are staying competitive in most of these games does provide at least a glimmer of hope. But Sparano can only do so much. The Dolphins have had chances to win at the end of these games, and it is not Sparano’s fault that Chad Henne just does not have that “killer” instinct that a quarterback needs to have. That is not something that is taught.

And nobody has even the slightest clue what was happened to this defense. Sparano and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan brought in a group that, on paper, should be a top 5 unit. They should be. I’m not sure you can blame the coaching staff for this debacle. I’m not sure who to blame for it.

Unfortunately for Sparano, when your team is failing, the blame always falls to the man on top. And bottom line, when you hire a head coach who has a speciality, and the teams biggest weakness is that speciality, you expect that weakness to improve. But the offensive line is still a mess, and we will all look at Sparano and ask why? Why did you bring in possibly the worst offensive tackle in history in Marc Columbo? Why don’t you have a guard that can pull? Why is necessary to have six linemen in there on too many plays?

It’s going to be a long, long season for us Dolphans. We will support this team to the bitter end, but the bitter end is coming too soon. It’s too early in the season to throw out the idea of the playoffs, but at this point, we are hoping to salvage a .500 season, maybe. Well, most of us are. Some people are already saying throw the season and get Andrew Luck. More about that below.

But let us not forget about the rest of  this crazy season. So far, if there is one thing we can be sure of in the NFL, it is that nobody had the slightest clue what they were talking about in the offseason. Let’s talk.

-The two undefeated teams left in the NFL are the Packers and …the Lions. I don’t think anybody is surprised that the Lions are good, but this good? Coming back from 20 points down in back-to-back weeks? People, that has NEVER happened before. In NFL history. Calvin Johnson has started with four 2 TD games in a row which (is awesome for my fantasy team) is an NFL record. This is not a fluke people. This is  Super Bowl contender.

-I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Cam Newton was overrated coming out of college. I’ll also be the first to admit that I was horribly mistaken. Two 400-yard performances and almost another one this week, he is the real deal. He is still making some throws that show he is a rookie, but that is going to happen. Unless he gets hurt (and there is a possibility he will with the way he plays), we are looking at an all-time rookie performance, and possibly the beginning of  Hall of Fame career.

-Oh yeah, and the Panthers aren’t that bad. Steve Smith looks better than ever (and paying huge dividends for fantasy owners who took him in the late rounds), and even though this team is only 1-3, they have a bright future.

-Speaking of teams we thought would be horrible but aren’t, hey Bills. I know you lost this week to the Bengals, but I think you were still coming off the high from beating the Patriots the week before. Not to beat my own drum, but I called this at the end of last year when Ryan Fitzpatrick was doing his best Tom Brady impression. I love watching them play, and even though they are in the same division as my Dolphins, it is just fun to watch a team that has been so bad for so long, doing so well. The downside? The Dolphins are officially the worst team in the AFC East, and it’s not close anymore.

What happened to these guys?! Falcons, Chiefs, Eagles, Rams, Steelers, all look horrible. The Rams were my sleeper pick this year. Whoops.

A thumbs up for these guys! Titans, Redskins, 49ers, Bengals (considering they were only supposed to win 2 games all year), Texans, Bills.

-It’s absolutely incredible that the Titans are 3-1. This is a team where their only legitimate weapon managed less than 100 yards rushing IN 3 GAMES, and their leading WR went down with a season-ending injury last week. So how do they respond? They come out and spank the Browns. Matt Hasselbeck is playing like a 25-year-old. But the real MVP has been the entire defense, who has not given up more than 16 points to an opponent in 2011. The signature win was against the Ravens in week two, a team that has put to shame everybody else they have played so far. Might be a little early to declare the Titans a contender, but they certainly look the part so far. The next real test will be after the bye in week 6, when they face the Texans.

-Gus Johnson is amazing. If there was ever a game where he was needed to call it, it was the Chiefs-Vikings. Seriously, he made the game tolerable, and then some.  I would pay this man endless amounts of money to follow me around and narrate my life.

-The football Gods were certainly smiling on the Giants yesterday. I read that rule over and over again, and it clearly states that the player needs to be giving himself up, AKA not trying to gain yards. Victor Cruz was still moving forward when he went down. Nobody touched him and he dropped the ball. That should have been a fumble and the Giants should not have won that game. That stadium seems to like them a bit.

-How difficult is it to cover Wes Welker? I’m trying to understand this. He isn’t fast. He isn’t tall. The Patriots other recievers aren’t that good. Brady is obviously in love with him. Yet every time I watch a game, Welker always seems to be running over the middle of the field, uncovered. The man is on pace for 160 receptions (a PPR MONSTER) and (get ready for this), 2,464 yards. In case you are interested, the single-season receiving record is held by Jerry Rice, and it is 1,848 yards. Cover this man.

-Would anybody besides me love to see a Lions-Bills superbowl?

-The Packers look even more impressive than last season. Scary thought.

-The Colts look about as impressive without Peyton Manning as we all expected. Any question now that he has deserved the MVP in every year he has played?

-Another thing I called was Jimmy Graham, the Saints tight end who is torching defenses right now. Former basketball player, great height, great speed, great athleticism, and somebody that many people did not know about coming into the season. Worked well for me, as I was able to grab him in my keeper league, and I will never, ever give him up. It’s almost unfair that Drew Brees is able to throw to him.

-I hate Mark Sanchez.

-Who is going to prevail in the “suck for Luck” campaign? Right now, the Colts, Dolphins, Rams and Vikings all have yet to win a game (though the Colts play tonight). As much as it pains to me to admit, I believe the Dolphins are the worst of the bunch and could very well end up with the first pick in 2012. I’m scared of Andrew Luck though. This much hype on a guy is NEVER a good thing. Obviously Luck has all the skills to be a franchise guy in the NFL, but I’m worried the pressure might catch up with him. But the Dolphins need to take a chance and find a franchise QB, so if they end up with the first pick, they CANNOT pass on him.

It’s going to be a long season for the Dolphins. They have to use it evaluate what they have and make some big changes for 2012. Us fans cannot take much more of this. If we can take solice in one thing, it is that it looks like it is going to be a fun season in the NFL regardless. For once, it looks like the teams that have been dominating for the last decade have some challengers. Should be fun to see what happens.