Thursday, December 15, 2016

How 2002 Wrecked the Dolphins (and what this team can do about it)

     In the next three games, the Dolphins will face Jacksonville, Houston, and Tennessee to determine our post-season fate.  We won't, of course:  we'll be on the road in two cold weather stadiums with drunken, hostile, obnoxious fan bases and frozen, crappy surfaces.  We'll then be at home against the seemingly perennial world champions. But I thought it worth a tease, since in 2002 this almost came true.
     But for the economics of three then fragile clubs, the Dolphins would have been the crown jewel of the AFC South.  The Colts would have remained in the AFC EAST.  Manning and Brady might have fought for division titles, while the Dolphins feasted on a hapless and backward division, coasting to 12-4 records and first round byes.
     The Patriots, Bills, and Jets wanted to keep Miami, as the Dolphins were argued to be the principal rival of each of the three clubs, and therefore crucial to their revenue models.  For reasons we may never know, the Dolphins accepted membership in a nasty, frozen division that was about to get tough, and the Colts got a free pass to the playoffs. And that was that.
     A franchise that struggles in cold weather games inherited three games a season in New Jersey, Canada, and Foxboro, while the Colts migrate south to Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee three times a year.  The NFL is a business, and the Dolphins paved the way for realignment and expansion by taking one for the team- er, league.  But the franchise has suffered for it, make no mistake.
      As we wrap up this season playing three games with our bitter foes, it is worth knowing where this all came from: dollar bills.  
      That said, the division is what it is.  You have to win your neighborhood if you want to win the league.  There is no better time to start than right now. But tell me you wouldn't rather be playing Bortles than Brady.

Jay Lopez
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3 comments

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Shoulda, coulda, woulda!

Geographically, it makes much more sense for the Colts to be in the East and we go into the South. After all, aren't we the southern most team?

Historically, Miami was an AFL team with the Jets, Patriots and Bills, while the Colts were in the NFL. When the leagues merged, the Colts, Browns and Steelers moved to the AFC.

Those 3 teams sacrificed some rivalries for the good of the league.

With the realignment, somebody had to go somewhere. I thought we were a better mix for the South, geographically. But we would've lost the natural borne rivalries.

I am not so sure we would be going 12-4 every year vs the South.

Our record vs:
Houston 1-7
Jacksonville 4-4
Tennessee 7-5 (19-17 including Oilers)

Yes...we wouldn't be playing Brady twice a year and having to beat them out for the East.

We haven't run away with the division all that much anyway. For the most part, one team or another was neck in neck with us.

Our problem right now is that we have not had the consistency of excellence in our play to, at the very least, give us a chance to compete for the division championship. No matter what division we would be located.

Yes, looking at the current standings, it would be great to be in the South at 8-5.

But we are where we are. We SHOULD be good enough to compete with the Patriots anyway. It's not like we don't have coaches or draft picks or free agency at our disposal.

They have a much better organization and we have struggled trying to find the answers.

Don't forget those East rivalries are also good for our fan base and ticket sales.

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2002 was the year that wrecked us in another way. It's the year that it became obvious that Wannstedt wasn't the right man for the job, but he was kept after the late season collapse.

Even if we'd ended up in the AFC South, we'd have still been missing the playoffs without hiring a better coach/GM to run things.