Injuries Crippling Dolphins
by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
It was bad when the Dolphins lost special team ace Chris Akins and veteran safety Shawn Wooden.
It got worse when they lost top playmaker David Boston.
It can't get much worse than losing Boston, we thought.
For these beleaguered Dolphins, the injury situation has now become a joke. In fact, it is past being ridiculous.
You know you have trouble when a guy just signed off of the street has to line up against Chad Johnson with two minutes to play and the game in the balance.
One strains to recall a team situation more severe.
Start with the defense, having been without DT Tim Bowens (back) for some time now. That is one big hit, figuratively and literally.
Sunday night they also lost DT Larry Chester (knee) ... for the season.
Ripping Timbo and Chester out of the middle of that defense is like blowing a giant hole in Hoover dam.
Both were men were set to dominate. Both men now recuperate.
Next is Jason Taylor, scaring the crap out of all Dolphin-dom by limping off with what appeared to be a foot injury. While he returned to gut out the rest of the game, the tight-lipped Dolphins offered no further information on his post-game condition.
Not enough horror? How about not having the services of two of the team's best corners in Patrick Surtain and Reggie Howard? How about Will Poole getting nicked up?
How about poor Jimmy Wyrick, the aforementioned free agent, having to guard Pro Bowler Johnson?
Somebody call a cardiologist! Or, better yet, an orthopedic surgeon.
Lucky are the Dolphins in that it was Carson Palmer tossing the rock and not Tom Brady.
Of course, there's the miserable state of the offense. It doesn't help the cause when your better skill players are injured.
I cannot emphasize enough how damaging it has been for the Dolphins to be without the services of their projected starting backfield.
Rob Konrad's back up, Doug Easlick, is a gamer but a raw free agent rookie. Konrad is a respected blocker and is becoming an honest offensive threat. Easlick is neither, at least not yet.
Travis Minor's replacement, newly acquired Lamar Gordon, knows only a fraction of the playbook. Gordon is thinking more than running at this point.
Minor's other back up, Sammy Morris, has a gimpy ankle. Morris sucked it up and played special teams but that was all.
Neither Minor nor Konrad will replace the rushing yards that went up in smoke when Ricky Williams quit. However, both are threats catching the ball and getting valuable YAC (Yards After the Catch). Both know the playbook like the back of their respective hands. Both have experience picking up the blitz.
Both would be helping out a clearly overwhelmed A.J. Feeley to stabilize a shaky Dolphin offense.
And, of course, there's the major loss of Boston. Marty Booker is doing his best but, like Gordon, is thinking more than doing.
The good news is that next year's WR triumvirate of Boston, Booker, and Chris Chambers will be as good as any in the league.
On special teams, losing Akins (knee) was a real blow; just ask Keith Armstrong how he feels about this and you'll see the pain on his face.
Losing Kendall Newson (Achilles) hurt, too. Witness just-cut Lamont Brightful's attempts at catching punts and holding on to the football. "Frightful" was the clever adjective ESPN's Pat Summerall used to describe Brightful's bumbles.
What is "frightful" is that injuries will be the true season killer if the bug doesn't let up.
Dave Wannstedt won't blame the losing squarely on the injuries, at least not publicly. It simply isn't his style. He wants to stay positive, looking for the upside, keeping his team focused.
Contrary to criticism, this is a good thing. If the leader doesn't believe, who will?
Do you think Bill Belichick cried last season when his Patriots suffered hit after hit?
Not a chance.
No question, 0-2 is bad place to be. But it isn't unrecoverable.
Not convinced? Consider this: Over the last two seasons, 18 of the 24 teams that went on to make the playoffs started either 1-1 or 0-2.
Strictly on paper, these Dolphins are much better than what they've shown us thus far. The problem has been getting them off the paper, i.e. the injury report, and on the field.
Getting the wounded back to duty and the offensive line to work can get this season pointed in the right direction.
Taking more body blows the size of Timbo and Chester will kill this season permanently.