Dolphins’ fans forget early season expectations
By Brian Miller
Miami Dolphins fans expected more. They got less. Now they are upset. Their memory however is masked by unrealistic expectations.
This year the Miami Dolphins were supposed to challenge the New England Patriots for the division. The Dolphins were headed for another 10-6 if not better season. Expectations were high after the Dolphins made the playoffs last year and salty Adam Gase was still upset with the way the team exited the post-season, even as the team entered training camp.
So much hype but then it all fell apart. Why should we have expected more? Afterall when the season began fans were saying 8-8 would be a very good season give the teams off-season issues.
Now after another blowout loss and another primetime embarrassment, fans are calling for heads. I’m only calling for the head of Julius Thomas and major overhaul to the offensive line when the season is over. Why? Because I haven’t forgotten what got this team to this point.
Yes, the season is hanging by a thread as Miami prepares for the final seven weeks of football. Yes they have to play the Bills and Patriots twice and the Broncos and Chiefs. Yes they still have one more game to look bad in during primetime. But so many things went wrong for this team before the season ever got started. Here is a realistic, not making excuses look at why this team is 4-5.
When training camp started all the talk surrounded the growth of Ryan Tannehill. His second season with Gase. This was supposed to be his breakout year. He was getting it. He was emerging as an emotional leader on and off the field. He was healthy and then he wasn’t.
Exit Tannehill and his torn ACL and enter Jay Cutler. Cutler was the choice of Adam Gase. He was familiar with the offense and on short notice he was the best option to run the system. But Cutler wasn’t mentally ready to return to football. So the Dolphins lost their starting quarterback.
On that same day the team lost starting guard Ted Larsen. He returned for the first time on Monday night. He was just o.k. Rusty for sure but remember way back when Larsen wasn’t assured of starting. He was supposed to compete.
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The Dolphins made a move for Lawrence Timmons and camp proved that 2nd round draft pick Raekwon McMillan was taking over the inside. He tore his ACL on the first play of the first pre-season game. Gone for the year. Enter Rey Maualuga who showed up hurt and out of shape and coming out of retirement.
Tony Lippett, a serviceable nickel back that Miami really likes, out for the year. Linebacker Koa Misi never made it training camp, out for the year. Then came the hurricane.
The NFL wasn’t sure what to do about Irma as the team prepared for their first game of the year. It was postponed and the Dolphins would open the season with two road games and a trip to London. Four week had gone by before the team would play it’s first game at home. The team was moved to the West coast, families and all two days before the hurricane hit South Florida.
Two weeks were spent in California and on the night before Miami’s opening game in Los Angeles, Lawrence Timmons went AWOL. The Dolphins suspended him for two weeks.
Miami had not played a single game and everything above happened to them and yet fans still said if Miami could make it to 8-8 the season should be considered a success. The thing is, the NFL God’s were not done having their way with Miami.
Offensive line coach Chris Foerster resigns after a video of doing cocaine surfaces. Jay Ajayi is not content with his role and is traded, the Dolphins lose Anthony Steen, Ja’Wuan James, Eric Smith, and Nate Allen all for the year. The season is one game beyond the halfway point of the season.
So why did the expectations change? Miami played poorly against every team they played this year. The never quit never give up attitude finally wasn’t enough for the team to claw back from big deficits. Fans are angry over the quality of the play more than the win/loss record and remembering the issues that the team endured early and through the first eight weeks would be more palatable if the team didn’t look to be in such disarray. Still, you can’t discount the adverse effects of the injuries, the loss of a bye week, three opening games on the road, and then the in-season issues as well.
It all adds up eventually.