NFL Championship weekend a reminder the Miami Dolphins still have work to do

The Miami Dolphins are not playing football today after spending the season believing the Super Bowl was in reach.

Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) gestures at
Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) gestures at / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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Four teams will compete for the right to represent their conferences in this year's Super Bowl. The Miami Dolphins are not one of them.

When today ends later tonight, the NFL will know who their Super Bowl teams are. Or they already do if you are a conspiracy theorist. That was a joke but what we know for certain is that the Miami Dolphins are not as close as some would like to think but are still closer than others might believe.

Yes, the Dolphins had a great season up until their December swoon. They led the AFC East from the start and caved in week 18. Injuries were a major problem for the Dolphins this year.

In the playoffs, they were without Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Andrew Van Ginkel, Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland, and Jerome Baker on defense. They had a banged up Jaylen Waddle and a banged up offensive line on that side of the ball. It was ugly. It would be interesting to know how the alternate-universe Miami Dolphins fared.

This year, the Dolphins lost to the Chiefs, twice. Once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. They lost to the Ravens in week 17. Last year they lost to the 49ers and we all know that watching Dan Campbell in Detroit is both exciting and disappointing at the same time.

There is a commonality among the four remaining teams that the Dolphins lack. Say what you want but the Dolphins are not as PHYSICAL as those four teams. Not on offense and not on defense.

All four teams are street fighters. The Ravens' defense is a bullying force. The 49ers LB group are street thugs. Detroit plays with a fire and intensity that emulates Campbell's entire attitude. The Chiefs have a physical offensive line, a tough defense, and a running back who would rather run a defender over than try and juke around them.

The Dolphins? While not a finesse team they lack that "street football" mentality. They don't tackle well but instead rely on hitting first and hoping they hit hard enough. Offensively, the line isn't built with road-grading linemen but instead, linemen who can hold their own for a few seconds and hope it's long enough.

Miami fans will watch today's game and ask "Why not us?" but the reality is the Miami Dolphins are not ready yet. They need to stay healthy. They need to be better prepared and disciplined. They have to go out each game with the attitude they will win not jus think they can.

The Dolphins have the talent to compete when healthy but does anyone believe Miami would be in the AFC Championship game if they had their defense healthy? They may have come a lot closer. They were a team that could have beaten the Chiefs but would they have a shot against the Ravens?

It is so hard to sit back and say yes or no. Again, the talent is there in key positions but being gutted by injury wasn't an excuse but a reality. This is the reason Dolphins fans say the team is "close" and they are 100% right. Others will point to a mostly healthy offense who only put up 7 points against the Chiefs. They are right as well.

The Dolphins are getting closer but how long will the window stay open? The only thing that matters today is the fact Miami isn't playing and whether it is a glass-half-full or half-empty view of the team, they will be watching on television like the rest of us.