2011 saw a Dolphins team that struggled with injuries, identity and ultimately winning games. The quarterback position was for a time a sour situation and the passing game suffered. It was a very up and down year that saw great offensive efforts at some points and horrible outputs the very next week. But, the Dolphins did not give in, fought every moment and left the year on a high note, defeating the bitter rival New York Jets and playing spoiler to their chance to reach the playoffs.
One player that truly seemed to mimic the up and downs, glories and frustrations of this Dolphins team was no other than enigmatic star receiver Brandon Marshall. In a year that most players and coaches worst enemies were the NFL owners, injuries and lockout, Brandon Marshall faced a much more intimate and personal foe. Himself. In August, preceeding the 2011 NFL campaign, Brandon Marshall, in a candid media session divulged that the antics, inconsistent play, personality and personal life were due to Borderline Personality Disorder.
The UCF graduate says he was diagnosed earlier this year, a disorder that is the product of factors such as unstable personal relationships, a negative self-image and a fear of failure. His decision announce his diagnosis was primarily to raise awareness of the Disorder state wide and nationally as well as to put a face to BPD, in order to help push those with the ability to help make it a priority.
“There comes a time in a guy like myself’s life, with everything that I’ve been through, that you become bulletproof to the
critics and to what the world thinks of you,” Marshall said. “Right now, today, I am vulnerable. I am making myself vulnerable. And I want it to be clear that this is the opposite of damage control. The only reason why I’m standing here today is to use my story to help others who may suffer from what I suffer from.”
Marshall also said that his agent and assistant staged an intervention for the troubled wideout, who on the advice of former teammate and fellow personality, Ricky Williams, voluntarily became a patient at the McLean Hospital of Boston, Massachusetts, were Wiliams himself was a patient.
Marshall’s personal investment in the expensive treatment for the disorder, which affects more people than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, at times became somewhat of a scapegoat for his inconsistent play and 12 drops, tied for second in the league.
It was then, on an October afternoon following practice and a sunday that saw him lose his starting QB of his full tenure as a Dolphin, that Marshall took a stand to take the blame and focus away from the disorder and put it on himself with this memorable statement.
“My goal is to get thrown out midway through the second quarter,” Marshall said.
“I’m serious. They want to fine me, it’ll probably be like a $50,000 fine. But I’m going to play. That quarter and half I’m out there, I’m going to play like a monster.”
“I’m best when I play emotional, I’m best when I play with passion, and you guys are going to see that on Monday Night Football. I don’t know if it’s throwing a football 15 yards into the bleachers and getting a 15-yarder, or punting the ball and getting thrown out of the game, but something is going to happen.”
“When you go through the things we went through, it’s like you feel like you’ve got to be perfect,” Marshall said. “That puts you in this bubble, and it’s kind of uncomfortable. You’re not human if you don’t have bad days.
“I’ve been living in a bubble a little bit, trying to control myself instead of being me. You’ve got to be able to turn that switch on and off. On Monday Night Football, I’m going to turn that switch on and be a monster. When I catch a ball, I might bang my head with a football. I might get into a shoving match with somebody. I might get a penalty. But I’m going to play like I usually play.”
In that game, covered nearly the entire game by Darrell Revis, one of the games best corners and fellow Pittsburgh native to Marshall, the receiver was able to amass 6 receptions for 109 yards and an 18.2 yard per catch average, and with a brand new quarterback at that. The Dolphins would lose that game, but Marshall, as the lone bright spot of that game used
those 60 minutes as new start for him, becoming a more consistent weapon for Matt Moore and the Dolphins. With 5 drops in the first 4 games of the season, Brandon would have a better showing in the category for the rest of the season, drop his per game average for 1.25 drops a game to .58 per game for the rest of the season.
Marshall would catch 81 passes for 1,214 yards and 6 touchdowns, the most yardage and touchdowns for the receiver as a Dolphin. Marshall’s 15 yard per catch average was his best ever as starter. He would end up 7th in the league for targets on his way to a seat among his peers as one of two Dolphins players to make the Pro Bowl this season, the first wideout selection for the game since Chris Chambers in 2005 and only the second since Irving Fryar in 1994.
As a group, the wideouts and tight ends left some to be desired but once again left tons to be excited about for next year and years to come. The young group, represented mostly by Marshall Devone Bess, Brian Hartline and Tony Fasano, saw a drop off by each in receptions and in yardage by all except Marshall. Devone Bess may have been the largest disappointment due to preseason reports that this was a year he would be primed to blossom next to Marshall on the field and with a more focused and mature Chad Henne.
However, and this can be said for the entire receiving corps, Chad Henne’s untimely injury hinder the passing game and put an added load on the rushing game, which was much more of a factor in the offensive play calls than last year.
Improvements, though can be seen very easily outside of the numbers. Brian Hartline’s maturity on and off the field is growing by the day, evident by his practices and ability to make a catch in traffic willingly and to be clutch when given the opportunity. Devone Bess, best know for his speed, hands and return ability, showed an improved route running game and showed more of a want to find the open spots in the defense and instincts to come back to the quaertback in trouble. Fasano showed more dependable hands, and, as always, was a positive force in the running game. This aspect can be said of the whole receiving corps, as the down field blocking improvement allowed Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas space to accumulate more runs over 10 yards.
However, it has to be noted that, even with the added emphasis on the run, the loss of a burgeoning quarterback, coupled with the team actually play with a lead more times than not in the second half of the season, the group still had some impressive ranks. Even with the 12 drops that Brandon Marshall contributed, the team ranked only 14th among all NFL teams. They also came in 13th for yards per catch and 6th in catches over 25 yards.