Monday, February 07, 2011

And just where do the Dolphins stand?

I've heard the argument: the Dolphins beat the Packers, and they nearly beat the Steelers.  And I've made some fun of it, and sarcastcially said the Fins were good enough as a result - but just couldn't string together any consistently good play.

Let's look back at that Packers game.  True, it was on the road against a quality opponent.  And true, Miami had a game plan that was solid.  And in the end, they beat the Pack.  But Aaron Rodgers "wasn't right" and he had been concussed the week before. No one was sure if he would play that week.  And frankly, they were just starting to come together as a team.  It took OT, and there was a complete lapse on Rodgers' TD "run" to tie it...While it was a great win for the Fins, I suspect that it was a matter of luck and timing as much as anything.  We didn't see the same team on the field two weeks before against New England (there was a bye in between), and the next week was the Pittsburgh game, followed by a win in Cincinnatti, and a drubbing in Baltimore.

So the two week span was the best Miami could offer.  Against the Steelers, at the end of the day, Miami lost.  Maybe they coulda/shouda/woulda won.  But the scoreboard still showed a loss.  And it was Rothlisberger's first game back after suspension.  He wasn't nearly the player he would become a few weeks later.  And again we saw some of Miami's shortcomings out there.

There's an old saying that goes in the regular season "any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday" and surely that was the case in that span.  But I don't - honestly - believe Miami was as good as either of those teams.

Why?  Leadership.  On the field.  And off the field.  Tony Sparano is a heck of a guy.  I have met him several times, and like him.  He's a good motivator, and certainly has his "house in order" and the team basically rallies around him.  I respect that about him.  But, he went 11-5 (with a couple of wins thanks to Pennington) and then 7-9 and 7-9.  Einstein once said "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result."  If we apply that to the Fins, you could argue that the coach isn't going to get more than 8 wins out of this team, unless he gets another lucky break like Pennington.

Meanwhile, Sean Payton had some great success with an over-achieving team last year, as did Mike Tomlin this year.  And Mike McCarthy was able to overcome some bad luck, injuries, and more as he led his team to victory.  15 players on IR says a lot about the coach's ability, doesn't it?  Sure they were a 6th seed, but they were inspired and played hard, didn't they?  No one quit.  Each week, they excelled, and unlike Sparano, he kept them focused.  

And on the field, you had a few veteran leaders at key spots on offense and defense.  Those guys helped the younger players to stick with it.  And of course you had a QB who arguably was one of the 1-2 best in the league this season. A guy who remained unflappable, and was able to deliver week in and week out.

A guy like we haven't seen here since the end of the '99 season - except for a few games in 2007 when Pennington showed some flashes.  

And that's why I say the Fins are headed for another sub-500 season next year.  The coaching didn't change, and the QB may or may not - but the leadership is lacking.  At least for now.

That's my two cents for today.
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I hope you're wrong, but I have a bad feeling you're right...



I also have a bad feeling your right. I don't see how this team can turn things around with Sparano and his mind numbing choices to fill the open coaching positions. Last year it just didn't appear that the players were playing with much heart and dedication, especially on the offensive side of the ball.