The Miami Dolphins enter their wildcard playoff game chanting the Next Man Up mantra that a team in their position has to preach. But, you can't tell me it's not a tough mentality to have confidence in.
This should be a really fun time of the season for us fans of the Miami Dolphins but I don't think many of us are feeling to joyful. There's good reason for this. Getting embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago and then having a 14-7 lead at home against the Buffalo Bills with the division and #2 seed on the line and gagging it away has most of us including feeling dejected.
But on top of all that is the incredible string of injuries the Miami Dolphins have accrued over the last two months especially in the last few weeks.
The Dolphins are playing the Kansas Chiefs and the Dolphins will be without their starting left guard and center and possibly their starting running back and #2 receiver. On defense, they will not have their top three edge rushers, a starting middle backer, and their #2 corner. And it's only Tuesday so there is a lot of time for more unbelievable injury fortune to strike the team.
Injuries are part of the game but man alive this seems a bit excessive.
But, most of us live in or want to live in a Next Man Up society and I fully agree with this. If someone goes down, it is expected that the next player going in will do their job, do what they're trained to do, and not be the weak link.
The Miami Dolphins will field a team on Saturday night in sub-zero temperatures and will have every chance to advance in the playoffs.
But I'm all about saying next man up and expecting that guy to go out there and perform as well as they can. But, I'm also not an idiot and know that the the backup going in there to take the place of that starter is not as good as that starter thus why they're the backup. So if that's something we know and believe to be true why should we have the same level of confidence that the team will be as good as they were with the starters?
I think it's more of an individual philosophy we all have. What I mean is I don't think anyone wants to be looked at or thought of as soft(which is quite ironic because if you're reading this you're probably a Dolphins fan) and if you blame injuries you're labeled as soft. I tend to agree with this.
We've seen teams lose players and still make it work. The Browns have lost a ton of guys and they look solid right now. The Ravens lost their top running back and all-pro tight end and they haven't missed a beat. Now if you want to say that when these teams got their injuries when they had a good amount of time to figure out what to do about them and the Dolphins haven't as much time to get new guys reps I'll hear that argument.
I'm not about to go ahead and say that nothing maters on Saturday night because the Miami Dolphins have a ton of injuries. Nope, not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to say figure it out and find a way.
But I also know it will be a massive uphill battle for the Dolphins to win and a big part of why I feel that way is because of all the backups they have in. Literally, the Dolphins will be suiting up Justin Houston who they just signed today to go out there and know what he's exactly doing and make plays after not playing a down this entire season. I don't think it's fair to expect Justin Houston to go out there and play like Andrew Van Ginkel was playing.
Now it's not impossible that backup doesn't perform like a starter or even better. It's not likely but it's not impossible.
If it sounds like I am saying and thinking two different things at the same time it's because I am. I'm comfortable in saying next man up and expecting that backup to perform as professionals should in their preparation while also knowing that the backup isn't as good as the guy they're replacing. I don't think this makes you a bad person or someone who is trying to have their cake and eat it too. I just think it's how most fans operate. If you want to draw a huge line in the sand, go for it.
On Saturday night, I will be rooting for the Miami Dolphins to win. To be honest, I think by about Wednesday night I will be fully convincing myself that the Dolphins will actually beat the Chiefs. But I will be also treating all the back up players that are playing as if they're a damn about to burst.
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