Friday, January 02, 2015

In Defense of these Dolphins


Someone has to do it, here we go.  Skimming the phins news wire is a lowly task, lots of handwringing with a healthy dose of doom and gloom.  I’m not seeing it that way, even after the steaming pile of chum that remains in the wake of the loss to the mighty Jets.  Simply put, this team is moving in the right direction, and kudos to Stephen Ross for having the wherewithal not to whither to the public pressure to blow it all up. 

Now just so you don’t think I’m some pie in the sky optimist who sees the silver lining in everything, allow me to state I was usually the first one in the pool during the orgy of pessimism and ill will that Dolphins fans have bathed in over the last decade. These have been some truly awful times to be a Dolphins fan. Especially for one who has lived in Boston during these seasons of darkness (Go everyone but New England!).  As someone whose friendships rely on healthy doses of mockery and ridicule I have had little to say in defense of my squad over the last ten plus years and have had to just sheepishly take my lumps after the close of each season.  That changed this year.  For the first time in many seasons I feel like popping off a bit. 

Allow me to start at the most obvious point, Quarterback.  Though Ryan Tannehill’s detractors  have  dwindled in number as the season progressed, for those of you who still count yourselves among those ranks I ask you, what are you comparing him to? Go look at the numbers of any QB you view favorably and you will be hard pressed to show me any who seriously outperformed him in their first four season in the league. Tannehill has gone in the right direction in each of his first four seasons, and he has done so with an offensive line that no would argue has been much good over that period of time.  For the first time in Dolphins A.D. Miami has a QB that I can actually envision, enthusiastically, as being under center in Miami for ten plus years. 

Perhaps the loudest demands for change have come from those calling for Coach Philbin's job. There are certainly arguments to be made for going in a different direction, but look at the teams that have been winning Super Bowls over the past several years.  There is not a lot of upheaval in those franchises is there? Finding good young players, then giving them stability and time to develop is how you emulate teams that have had the most success over the last decade.  I would suspect Mr. Ross has taken that into consideration as well.  Yes there are a few obvious exceptions to this rule, but that is all they are, exceptions.  There is something to be said, for stability, especially when you have a young quarterback who is clearly moving in the right direction.  Think of organizations like the Packers and Giants.  They have certainly had their bumps over the last few years that have riled up the media and fans alike, but they just keep hanging around don’t they? In 2008 every Packer fan I know was calling for McCarthy and Thompson’s head, now they are all super fans again. In New York, prior to their last two Super Bowl titles there were no shortage of people who wanted to see Tom Coughlin gone.  The last two seasons haven’t been great for Giants fans, but theirs is a decade of football I would be happy to have had in Miami. I am not advocating for stability absent any encouraging signs from the current regime either.  Philbin and his staff’s ability to develop young players seems to have been as ignored as it is promising.  They are having success in that department. I’m happy to give it some more time to see if the win loss record can begin to reflect that success.
  
The most maddening of criticisms though is that Philbin in not a leader of men. Please, just stop. What a load of insipid meaningless nonsense. He is not a leader in the eyes of some because the Dolphins are not winning enough, if the Dolphins were on their way to the play offs right now I have a feeling there would be little concern in this area. Let's put it this way, if Bill Belichick did not pull one of the greatest players in NFL history out of his back side with a 6th round supplemental pick back in 2000,  I seriously doubt there would be many who were in awe of a Belichick's leadership qualities (I’ll go round and round all day with anyone on this point).  There is no style of coaching that lacks in leadership qualities when a team is winning.  

That is what it boils down to obviously, winning. I have hope there will more of that in the future. The 2014 Dolphins bested New England this year, lost two heart breakers to play-off teams against the Lions and Packers, and went toe to toe with the Broncos in Denver. A few late defensive stops and many of this organization's biggest critics would have a lot less to say. Heck that might have been true just by avoiding the loss of Brandon Albert.  The windows are closing in New England and Denver. Who strikes fear in you as the next AFC heir apparent? Is there anyone who remains that you don’t think Miami can be right there with when it is time for a changing of the guard?  Giving this team more time was the right thing to do.  There is no doubt work to be done.  The Dolphins are going to have to make some tough calls to get the cap right in order to retain key players and add new ones.  They need to figure out how to get that defense back on track. They have to hope for the best with Brandon Albert. They need to decide if Mike Wallace is their play maker for another year or if they need to look elsewhere. There are plenty of challenges but the fact remains, I have reason for optimism, even if I do skim the news wire more often than I should. 
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11 comments

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Finally an intelligent, spot on and optimistic article! Kudos!!! All you hatemongers masquerading as fans either join in and support the team for at least 1 more year and acknowledge the points made above or PLEASE go find another team.

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Intelligent? I stopped reading when the author mentioned Tannehill's first FOUR seasons in the league. Omg, save me somebody!

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Damn it. I'd say good get if that weren't so obvious. That blooper aside I stand by the rest. Viva La Phins!

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Thanks for being the voice of reason amongst all the crybaby fans who can't see beyond anything save instant gratification. Very few professional general managers posting on these blogs but your voice of tranquility stands out as a superior piece of work. I am optimistic that the Phins are turning the corner and laying the foundation to dethrone New England for years to come and at the very least compete regularly . Halleluiah . Those whom constantly complain just go away.

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@ Farley:

The Phins will dethrone NE when Brady retires. Kinda sad when you think about it...

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@ amsboston:

"There is no style of coaching that lacks in leadership qualities when a team is winning."

The problem is, there are coaches that win and some that don't and Philbin has not had a winning season yet. So until he does, his leadership skills will be questioned and rightfully so.

And for the record, I'm optimistic! Just as optimistic as Cleveland who improved 3 games in 1 year to 7-9. And Minnesota who improved by 2 wins also to 7-9. Let's not forget buffalo who improved 3 games! That's great company to be in considering Miami had a "better" roster and didn't improve their wins by not even 1 game...



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I'm a Dolphins fan, first and foremost, but I'm also a realist.

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." William Arthur Ward

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Stay the course. We are very close to happiness.

There is something to be said about stability. Keep in mind that Chuck Noll won a grand total of 12 games his first 3 seasons at the helm of the Steelers.

The days of Don Shula are long gone with their 17 rounds of the draft, no free agency, no salary cap and unlimited time to practice and beat guys into submission to find your type of players. Those days are a distant memory.

Franchises now have to deal with caps and free agents and their agents on a limited practice schedule. The need to build a program core and keep it together is so much more essential than ever before.

Football is not like basketball were 1 or 2 players can put you over the top in a couple month's practice. Or baseball and hockey where you can plug in new guys anywhere since everyone runs the same defensive mechanics and positioning.

Football takes a lot of bodies and a system that can be developed and implemented in good faith. This takes some time to get from bad to good to great.

And a little good luck with scheduling and injuries.

Hang in there. Be patient and whether we win by default or talent, who cares.

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@Mr. Leone

With all due respect (and I appreciate the effort you put into this particular offering) but how long do we need to remain patient? One more year, or should we give this another two, maybe three? I think Failbin has shown us what he is, a mediocre head coach with poor leadership skills (debatable as it may be.) I wish I could see things as rosy as everyone else on this does. I am hopeful I will be wrong (heck, I'm praying I am, I will be glad to eat crow) but I have a bad feeling if this team gets off to a poor start we'll have an interim coach sometime around 7- 8 games into the next season.

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Time will tell José J.

Tannehill has improved immensely. And he is one tough cookie. We need to stay healthy on the O Line and build some depth there.

This coaching staff has done very well developing players. Look how many young guys are contributing. Not just starting but making plays.

In my 44 years as a Dolfan, this past decade has been quite a drought. I remember when Wannstedt and Fiedler won 43 games in 4 years and no body was happy. We were close then, closer than now, and we ripped that apart. Where are we now?

Stay the course. Be patient. We are on the right track.