Searching for hope in Miami

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The Dolphins are up next in our “state of the franchise” series for each team during their bye week. We’ve already looked at the Cowboys, Redskins, Ravens, and Browns.

Finding ways to lose

The Dolphins haven’t played like the worst team in the league. I can name six that have looked worse overall — Indy, Kansas City, Seattle, Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Denver.

Miami never takes advantage of opportunities and finds ways to lose in the fourth quarter. They outplayed the Browns but couldn’t put them away. They played tough against Houston, New England, and San Diego but couldn’t make the big plays.

This has been a theme of the Tony Sparano era. The Dolphins often “looks” better than their record. Sparano is 14-22 since 2009. At some point competing isn’t enough.

Disappointing defense

Firing Sparano doesn’t make sense during the season because the Dolphins don’t have a logical replacement. Miami has poured resources into a talented defense that looked like a potential top-five group heading into the season. While the schedule has been tough, Miami has been one of the worst defenses in the league.

The cornerbacks were supposed to stand out; they have been average. Cameron Wake is doing his thing, but the rest of the linebacker group including Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett have struggled. The deep defensive line has been ordinary.

The Dolphins defense was built to carry the team and it’s brought the team down instead.

Sparano’s biggest embarrassment

Tony Sparano is supposed to be an offensive line guy. Despite the presence of Jake Long, Miami’s line has been a rotating mess for years. It hasn’t improved this year and even Long is struggling. One bright spot: center Mike Pouncey has been a strong addition.

Bush is a bust

Reggie Bush is a disappointment for the money they are paying, although it’s hardly a surprise. He’s moderately helpful as a receiver, but a disaster as a runner and blocker.  Don’t expect him to last more than a year in Miami.

Sucking for Luck is realistic

I wrote earlier the Dolphins have played better than their record indicates. But the loss of starting quarterback Chad Henne and a brutal schedule makes Miami a strong candidate for the No. 1 overall pick next year. They would be lucky to go 4-8 the rest of the way.

Perhaps bottoming out (again) is what the Dolphins need.

51 responses to “Searching for hope in Miami

  1. Number 1 pick; again. The real hope is that these terrible teams that bring in a new coach, etc. seem to play well in year one ike the 2008 Dolphins did. Ah, the 2008 season…when Dolphins football was FUN again.

  2. Hey Rosie, thanks for not totally killing the ‘Fins. I think you gave a fairly accurate assesment of the current group of Dolphins. Actually, you were a little “easy” on them. Their suck factor is pretty high right now. The entire staff must go and I think it is a HUGE disappointment how bad the defense has performed so far this season.

    Not being relevant for 15 years hurts.

  3. 4-8 ain’t getting them Luck. Some team will surely have fewer than 4 wins.

    Of course, one of those possible teams is the Rams, who probably wouldn’t draft him.

  4. if we find a way to not suck for luck i will go crazy. Esp if the colts get him. fins have been striking out on qbs for a decade and the colts hit the jackpot on their first spin?!

    also, if we dont land gruden or preferrably cowher i will go crazy. no excuse not to, why hang on to ireland? wtf has he done? body of work man, body of work.

  5. As a Jets fan, I’m hoping they don’t draft Andrew Luck & get Cowher or Gruden to coach. With the D they already have in place plus a decent O-Line they would be a pretty dangerous team next year with Luck & etc. added. But until then they are the bottom feeders of the AFC East and their fans are praying for the NBA to have a season so they can hold their head up again.

  6. Sparano alone is not the problem – there are too many instances of good players passed up. Not defending Sparano, just saying there’s more wrong with the franchise than just the coach.

    The best way to improve does seem to be winning the Luck sweepstakes…

  7. @realitypolice
    “Of course, one of those possible teams is the Rams, who probably wouldn’t draft him.”

    Are you kidding me? If Bradford plays this bad the whole season and they wind up the worst team in the league, St. Louis will take Luck. That’s like if the Colts had a moderately decent to pretty solid starting qb back in 1998, maybe Drew Bledsoe, and decided to pass up on Manning because they had a “quality” starter. A guy like Andrew Luck only comes around every so often, and I would say the only team in position to pass him up is the Packers because of Rodger’s age and how ridiculously good he is. Even New England would take him if they somehow had the opportunity, because Brady won’t be around forever.

  8. The Cardinals got ripped for letting Dansby go. Good LB in the system at the time 2 years ago(Dockett up front and Adrian Wilson behind him). He could do as he pleased. When he produced, he felt he was worthy of being paid like the best middle linebackers in the league. The Cards felt otherwise and let him walk. Miami got a lot of pub for landing him and now it seems he doesn’t have the moxy to help the “supposed to be good” defense gel. A great system player but not an indivdual standout. Too bad, Dansby’s a great character and brought alot of highlights to the film room 2 years go.

  9. @realitypolice

    That could indeed happen…where the Rams or (very unlikely) the Panthers have the #1 pick.

    IMO Carolina would stand pat with Newton and fleece someone for 3-4 1sts/2nds etc. (There is a rule about trading future picks too far out, though I’m not exactly sure what it is.)

    But what do you do if you are STL? Do you roll with Bradford or take Luck? What could they get for Sam? 2 1sts?

    This will be fascinating if one of these 2 teams end up in the #1 slot.

  10. The Dolphins haven’t played like the worst team in the league. I can name six that have looked worse overall — Indy, Kansas City, Seattle, Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Denver.

    Ummm….forget about the Vikings?

  11. Denver does NOT look worse than Miami… Last I checked the Broncos have actually WON a game..Dolphins are 0-4. Take your hate elsewhere.

  12. Honestly, Chad Henne’s actually been playing pretty well. It’s too bad he got hurt (then again, it might be his ticket out of there.) If he had a running game and a defense, he may have actually had some success.

  13. maybe the Dolphins haven’t played like the worst team during the first 4 games, but I think they are about too. many observers say they seemed disenterested in the 2nd half of the SD game. Henne is out now and they have nothing to play for. how long before Brandon Marshall blows up. he is on his best behaviour when winning, but who knows how he’ll act now that the season is lost. everyone knows the coach is a lame duck no matter what, so how are they going to respect/play hard for him. look at the schedule and its hard to find any wins at all. most people say at home vs. denver, just because its the weakest opponent on the schedule, not because we are better than them, which we aren’t. Im hoping for 1-15 and Andrew Luck.

  14. Signing Rosenfelds is the sign of a desperate coach. The best outcome is to tank the season and load up on draft picks. People in Tampa were livid with the Glazers for dumping Brooks and Dunn (Football players, not country singers) but now 3 drafts later that looks like genius move.

  15. @johnnyshore:

    Your argument makes perfect sense.

    If GMs made decisions based upon common sense, we wouldn’t have teams like the Dolphins and the Rams.

    Instead, we have GMs who make decisions for a thousand other reasons than the right one.

    For example, when they draft someone #1 and pay them, oh let’s say 50 MILLION DOLLARS GUARANTEED, they don’t tend to cut them after 2 seasons no matter what they’ve looked like or how the team has done.

    Sam Bradford is not, as you say, “a moderately decent to pretty solid starting qb back”. He is a “moderately decent to pretty solid starting qb back” who has a huge amount of guaranteed money in his contract and a huge cap number.

    As illogical as it may seem, I will make any bet you want that if the Rams wind up with the #1 pick, they will NOT take Andrew Luck.

  16. When they were picking #2 overall, they took Ronnie Brown instead of Aaron Rodgers. Then when they had the top pick, they took Jake Long instead of Matt Ryan. I guess if threes the charm, then Luck could be their man. Who am I kidding, they’ll find a way to blow it.

  17. BLOW THE WHOLE THING UP! Trade Marshall, Dansby, and even Wake if you have to, but get this money freed up and use it to bring in quality o-linemen, then add Andrew Luck to the mix. That’s right, free up some big money, draft Luck, and plant him behind a good O-Line. Then worry about replacing the pieces you traded to do this.

    I don’t care what the Dolphins do with their draft or free agency, if they don’t get Luck or at least a guy like Landry Jones and surround them with a solid to better O-line, then nothing else matters!!!

  18. The Dolphins problem is very simple. The owner does not know football. I think he wants to win. The main thing keeping him from winning is he seems to look to Carl Peterson for advice. The same Carl Peterson who destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs. He also believes, as does Carl, in Jeff Ireland. All Dolphin fans will tell you, Ireland is the worst GM in football. His free agent signings and draft picks have been sad to say the least.
    Unfortunately, as long as Ross continues to trust in Peterson & Ireland this team will be a joke!

  19. According to Michael Silver of Yahoo, Trent Edwards didn’t turn down the Dolphins because of money, as was reported to be the case with David Garrard. Edwards simply didn’t want to play there.

  20. YES! They should send Marshall to the Rams NOW. He knows McDaniels system and Bradford is desperate for a WR.

  21. Not trying to wish anything bad on Luck. But suppose he is not good? Some players are extremely talented but it’s the system they land in what downgrades them. Just look at Wes Welker.

  22. The Dolphins have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Their problem over the last decade or so has been a severe lack of leadership and that ultimately leads to apathy on the part of the players (just look at their sideline and it is evident). Nobody steps up on either side of the ball. There may be a play or two during the game but when crunch time comes the Dolphins rely on their opponent to beat themselves.

    Before this year, the defense looked great until the 4th quarter and then they looked horrible. The scheme is fine. The players need to learn how to tackle. Throwing your back in the runner’s path is begging for a big play–and there have been several. Some of these guys are hoping somebody makes a play rather than hustling and making the play themselves.

    Bush is not a between the tackles runner. Stop trying to prove otherwise. He needs to be used in ways that take advantage of his strengths. There is no excuse for not using him in the 2nd half of the games.

    There is no way for Sparano to exert leadership, inspire confidence and instill discipline under the circumstances since the Harbaugh fiasco. Ross has shown a complete lack of understanding of how to lead the team and place them in the best possible situation in order to win. I like Sparano but he is handcuffed and ineffective.

    This owner has shown horrible judgment so far. The only thing I have seen that looks remotely promising is that he seems willing to spend some money in free agency. Now, if only they had a guy that could accurately tell him which players are actually worth the money.

    Ross seems to value celebrities and gimmicks more than a quality football team and the fan base is acting accordingly by not showing up. That does not bode well as Los Angeles (Hollywood) is screaming for a franchise and Goodell is doing everything in his power to get them one.

    It’s a shame that Huizenga and Ross have turned a once proud and professional franchise into the laughing stock of the league.

    Note to Ross: Get rid of the “yes men” who are only concerned with kissing your butt, and go find some guys that know football and tell it like it is–and actually listen to them. (No, Peterson is not one of the knowledgeable gurus.)

  23. dolphindad-

    the Dolphins have no chance at beating the Broncos with Matt Moore at QB…or beating anyone else with Matt Moore for that matter.

  24. Brandon Marshall is a huge problem as well. 3 dropped TD passes so far. And this is not an exaggeration. All 3 were perfectly placed in his hands and he simply couldn’t hang on. Trade him for draft picks. Cut Reggie Bush. Cut Marc Columbo. Draft Luck. I know it’s unrealistic but my wish list also includes 1 of these 3… Jonathan Martin (Tackle, Stanford), Dwayne Allen (TE, Clemson), LaMichael James (RB, Oregon). We could also use another pass rusher and a safety.

  25. Ireland also needs to go. Sooooo many missed opportunities by this poser. I’m not a huge fan of bringing in a big name like Gruden or Cohwer, even though that’s exactly what Ross’ dumb ass is going to do. Not because it’s the best way to win, because a big name creates buzz. I’d rather give a chance to a young, hungry coach. With a franchise QB, a guy like Daboll or Ken Zampese could prove to be worthy.

  26. Can we call a spade a spade here….

    Sparano may not be the best coach for Miami, but calling him out for the busts in the draft or free agency is unfair.


    Before you repeadedly accuse Sparano of the lack of success and talent on this team, there needs to be a conversation on how for the past three drafts, this team has left it’s fans wondering what these guys were thinking.

    Sparano may have to go, but I would get rid of Ireland now. Nothing will change in performance exept to let the high profile coaches know (Cowher, chucky, Fisher, etc…) that if they come here, they can run the show.


  27. FinFan68 says: Oct 7, 2011 4:24 PM

    The Dolphins have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Their problem over the last decade or so has been a severe lack of leadership and that ultimately leads to apathy on the part of the players (just look at their sideline and it is evident). Nobody steps up on either side of the ball. There may be a play or two during the game but when crunch time comes the Dolphins rely on their opponent to beat themselves.


    Interesting theory, but what about the Jimmy Johnson years. No leadership then either?

  28. What also doesn’t make sense is the way you slyly “forgot” to add the 2008 season to Sparano’s record, Gregg.
    Sparano’s overall record is 25-27.
    Why add from just 2009 on? He’s likely out by the end of the season or sooner. Give the guy some credit for making history by turning a 1-15 team into a 11-5 division winner.

  29. Rosenthal your accurate except for Bush being a bust. They knew who Bush was prior to obtaining him. What does Sparano do; he does not get Bush touches in space or throw to him with a LB in coverage. Sparano is an old school run the ball guy who like his mentor Parcells is clueless on today’s offenses. Sparano clearly has put some restraints on the offensive coordinator with how much he wants to throw. When the Dolphins were protecting a 3 point lead against Cleveland, Miami ran the ball instead of throwing. The defensive issues are strange but Miami does seem to be big and slow on the DL. Teams just seem to be game planning to victory against Sparano’s Dolphins. Sparano who considers himself an OL guru, can not boast on being very good even after drafting Long and Pouncey. Sparano does have some personnel power…………so who else can Tony blame for what has gone on in Miami. He will be gone this offseason or before.

  30. @jayrandall: I stated the last decade or so–Johnson retired along with Marino at the end of the 1999 season.

    But, since you brought that up…are you talking about players or coaches?

    There were a couple leaders on those teams. Marino, Thomas and Taylor…that’s about it. Those teams had an aging and banged up Marino, no running game and an average defense.

    As for the coaches, it was often reported that Johnson preferred to spend time on his boat rather than put in long hours at the facility. He said more than once that his heart wasn’t into it the way it was at the U and at Dallas. He even officially quit–for a day–the year before he finally retired for good. The mustache (Wannstedt) never exuded anything you could call leadership.

    To answer your question, leadership may have been a problem then also, but nowhere near the issue it is today. IMO the Dolphins fall from grace began when Wayne Huizienga got the team and has accelerated the decline under Ross. Joe Robbie is likely turning over in his grave.

  31. thepowerofgreen says: Oct 7, 2011 9:12 PM



    And the Jets won’t win a game in october. So really, both teams suck.

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