years ago this past week, I wrote a column that declared the fifth game of the
season, a road game at New England, to be the Dolphins’ final chance to salvage
the 2004 season.
0-4 Dolphins failed in that bid, on their way to a dismal 4-12 finish.
forward to today, and the Dolphins once again face the same season-at-stake
crossroads that their weak sisters did. Only difference is that the opponent is
the less talented New York Jets in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
not suggesting that the 2006 Dolphins are in the same sorry condition as was
the case two years ago. While the record may not bear it out, today’s Dolphins are
in better shape than that Dave Wannstedt swan song was.
winning in the NFL is the bottom line and today’s Dolphins haven’t been. So
comparing the on-field product to the one of 2004 is fair.
save themselves from that shame, to save their season, and their playoff hopes,
defeating the Jets is a must.
heard all the excuses, the latest one being that they “keep shooting ourselves
in the foot”.
At the end of the day, winners find a way to get over, losers keep going under.
the Dolphins should read Nick Saban’s book, “How Good Do You Want to Be?”.
now it is hard for us to know how good these Dolphins want to be. Heck,
it’s hard to know just how much “want to” there collectively is with this lot.
truth of matter is that, at some point, this team is going to irreversibly
define themselves one way or another.
can’t recapture failed expectations against the Jets, but they can get
themselves back on a path of self-respectability.
for the fans, whether they drank the Super Bowl kool-aid or not, the pall of
disappointment that lingers over this underachieving team is undeniable.
the question is no longer one of playoffs but whether or not they’ll finish
with a winning record. One would have to think that they’d have to end up at
least as well as last year’s to even be considered a decent product.
now, let’s be positive and try to see a way out of this mess.
the Jets this week and the Packers thereafter would get them to 3-4 before the
bye week and the lock-up with the formidable Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
to the Bears would not be a crime, even if it leaves the Dolphins at 3-5. With
two homes games to follow against the Chiefs and Vikings, followed by a road
game against the sorry Lions, the Dolphins would still have a golden
opportunity to get above .500 before December. From there, the playoffs become a
the very least, finishing on par with last year’s bunch becomes thinkable.
it all must begin against the Jets. In the NFL, all of them are big but this
one is BIG.
what has to change?
offense, the message is overly simplistic and obvious, yet paramount: find a
way to get into the red zone and score touchdowns.
or not, any improvement will matter because the Dolphins are averaging 12.2
points a game, with just 6 touchdowns in five games. Only the Broncos and the
Raiders have scored fewer touchdowns.
flat pathetic given the talent.
won’t replay the various issues on offense here. You’ve all seen the blotter. It’s
time to put up or shut up. Simple as that.
the picture is brighter. The Dolphins are ranked 5th in yards
allowed per game, 4th in fewest penalty yards against, in the top
third of the league against the run, 8th versus the pass, and 12th
in points allowed.
can win a lot of games with this defense. They should be 5-0 with this defense.
That’s the good news.
bad news is that they are 25th in third down percentage and,
consequently, 24th in time of possession allowed.
net of this is that they need to get the job done on third down, especially on
passing downs, so they can get off the field, and help the offense with field
position and more opportunities.
I could write pages on what needs fixing on this flawed team. There’s very
little the coaches and front office can do about the players they have right
now, other than to keep coaching them.
clearly don’t have the right players right now to win half the time, let alone
every week. That can change but it has to now. The Dolphins have run out of
1-5 is over and out. Heck, even 2-4 is dim.
the Dolphins can still get back in the fight. It’s a long shot but they can
still do it.
strange things happen in the NFL. Just ask the 1992 San Diego Chargers. They
actually made the playoffs after an 0-4 start.
don’t know if the Dolphins can get their act together in time (or at all) to
make the playoffs. That could be expecting too much of this underachieving lot.