Tony Sparano May Yet Win Me Over


I get bored often, one of the products of the incessant flood of information and general crap that people nowadays are exposed to.  There are two things that I generally do when I get bored, either I listen to music, look up random football crap, or both.  I sat down at the computer and started to play some Zeppelin.  Zepp has always made me long for the good ole days, so I decided to meander back in time a bit, and started browsing NFL Historical stats.  Every time I end up doing that, I either consciously or subconsciously try to relate those old, dusty statistics to things that are currently happening.  The first stat that kind of jumped out at me was:

Bill Walsh 1st 4 years: 2-14, 6-10, 13-3, 3-6

Not an impressive lot of numbers from one of the top 4 coaches of all time, that is if the reader doesn’t realize that the 3rd number there was a Super Bowl win.  But that record got me to thinking and digging some more. I found that a couple other hall of fame coaches had similar bad records when they first started out.

Marv Levy 1st 5 years: 4-12, 7-9, 8-8, 9-7, 3-6

Chuck Knoll 1st 4 years: 1-13, 5-9, 6-8, 11-3

The pair had 8 Super Bowl appearances between them.  Levy was fired during his 3-6 campaign by the Kansas City Chiefs, and was hired by Buffalo, and ended up on the wrong end of Helmet Gate and Wide Right, much to my delight.  Were I the guy from KC who fired him, I’d probably be upset.

Another one:

4 year span of Don Shula from 1986-1989:  8-8, 8-7, 6-10, 8-8

Of course, he had a ton of goodwill built up from the 1970’s.

The most interesting guy that I found was this guy:

Bill Belichick’s 1st four seasons: 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, 11-5

Now the Dolphinophile will look at those records and say…. Wait a minute.  If the Dolphins win 2 more games, Tony Sparano and Bill Belichick will have the exact same total record after 4 years.

At any rate, my point is not really about those statistics, I just thought they were interesting.  The point, as you can see from the title is Sparano and his apparent quest to take his head off the chopping block.  As I mentioned earlier, I am a loyal guy.  I do not like the thought of yet again turning over our front office, as going from Jimmy Johnson as the lead dog to Dave Wannstash was really a frightful experience.

Somehow, once it was apparent that Wanny did not have the brass to do both personnel and coach, things managed to get worse.  The GM job went from Wanny to Rick Spielman, who I will forever remember as the guy that wasn’t that cool linebacker that played in Detroit (Ricks’ brother Chris was the cool one.) Then Speilman begat Nick Saban, and we were still abysmal. Saban quitting on us and becoming the most hated person in Miami led to Randy Mueller, also known as the guy who decided that Cam Freaking Cameron was head coaching material.  And then came Parcells, and we rejoiced, or something similar to that.

That first season was the most enjoyable season I have ever had the pleasure to experience.  Going into the Baltimore playoff game, I knew we would get killed, but it did not matter, because, once again, we were winners, and once again Dolphins fans knew Hope. For me, Sparano built up a ton of goodwill from me with that first season.  I saw how good he could be, taking a team that was, frankly, not very good to the playoffs.  It really was an incredible coaching season.

Three seasons without a winning record have almost eroded all of that goodwill away.  And then came Sunday against the Raiders, and I thought to myself, these guys like to play for coach, and it shows.  They have not quit, as teams in Indy, St Louis, and Philly have.  I also looked back to the beginning of the season and saw us changing our Offensive Coordinator, while having a month to get his system installed.  Defensive players were out of shape coming into camp.  (Seriously, cramps by all the secondary?  Carlos Dansby being the size of the stay puft guy?)  Now that players are comfortable with the offense, the team is clicking more than a team with Matt Moore really has any right to.  And with the defensive players being in better shape, DB’s are flying to the ball, QB’s are getting hit, and things on D are about where we all assumed they would be at the beginning of the year.

Also, in his first season as unquestioned leader of the personnel department, GM Jeff Ireland has seemed to put together a solid class of draft picks that are all contributing.  Pouncey is doing as well or better than his brother did as a rookie.  Daniel Thomas has flashed fairly well in a few games.  Clyde Gates just broke a big one in consecutive games.  Charles Clay seems to be open more than most H-Backs.  And finally, Jimmy Wilson has done some good things.  Hell, even Frank Kearse, claimed off the practice squad by the Panthers, is seeing some game action, albeit not for us.  Seems like a good draft class so far.  His veteran additions are also working out, for the most part.  Kevin Burnett and Reggie Bush both are doing well, now that they have settled in.  Trusnik makes plays on Special Teams.  The only failure this year from a personnel standpoint is Marc Columbo.

A part of me wants to cut Sparano and Ireland some slack because of the flunky offseason. Another part of me wants to start over.  With every good game we play, the former knocks the later a bit more out of the picture. If we win two of our remaining games, and are competitive in the other two, I think that I will be won over for the time being, much like the players seem to be won over.  The Caveat with that is, next year, Win or Else.

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