When a football team spends the better part of two decades being absolutely atrocious, like the Miami Dolphins, it is easy to forget the single seasons when they weren't.
For the first time since 2000, the Miami Dolphins are 10-4. They have a tough three-game finish ahead of them to close out the 2023 season. Miami Dolphins fans are excited, and they should be but history should also be something we learn from, not summarily dismiss.
No matter whether you are a Dolphins fan dating back to the early George Wilson years, or the Dan Marino era, Jason Taylor era, or simply a new fan of the last ten years, you have heard the phrase, "same old Dolphins" or you have heard, "We have seen this movie play out before." And you have heard that because it is true.
In 2000, the Dave Wannstedt-led Miami Dolphins made it to 11-5 on the season. They entered the final stretch of the season 10-3 before losing two in a row and then winning in their final weekend to reach 11 wins. That team beat the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. The last Miami Dolphins team to win a playoff game. They lost the following week.
In 2001, the Dolphins once again made it to the playoffs. Miami held a 9-5 record with two games to go. They finished 11-5 winning their final two. They lost to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.
Two years later Miami would enter the final week of the 2003 season 9-6 and would beat the Jets to improve to 10-6. Miami would not make the playoffs, Dave Wannsted would resign the following season during the team's bye week and well, the churning history of the last 20 years would begin.
In 2008, Miami ran away with the division on the legs of Ronnie Brown and the Wild Cat. At 9-5, the Dolphins won their final two weekends to improve to 11 wins. They lost to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.
Since that 2008 season, the Dolphins have seen double-digit win totals only three more times including this year. Both of the previous and most recent two saw the Dolphins make the playoffs and both saw the Dolphins lose in the WC round.
Will this trend change in 2023? Can the Dolphins get to 11 wins? If they win the division it will be the first time they did so since 2008. 11 wins practically guarantee a playoff spot, this year's Dolphins want more than a Wild Card.
Sitting at 10 wins is exciting but yes, the Dolphins have been here before. Many fans remember those years and how they got there and how it ended. This year, the stress from week to week is back, the expectations are back and losses are taken much harder than they have been the last decade.
For all Miami Dolphins fans, I hope we don't experience the same heartache from the previous six 10 and 11 win seasons but we really need to get to 11 wins or we may end up seeing a repeat from 2003 and no one wants to experience that mess.