If you ask any current member of the 2012 Miami Dolphins if they are satisfied going into the break at 3-3, tied for the lead in the AFC East, you would probably receive a chorus of displeasure. Now if you asked many Dolphins fans about the team’s current status, you might get your share of smiles and some might even say this team should be up a game or two within the division.
Reality is that you are what your record says you are and for the Dolphins, they have put themselves in a position after six games to compete with the best in the AFC. Confidence and enthusiasm are some of the qualities this team and the fan base feel and here are some of my thoughts about what I’ve seen over the past six games.
1) Thank You, Ryan Tannehill – I say that because the rookie has brought stability and productivity to the position, and his knowledge of this offense has been evident through six football games. He’s been able to overcome the tipped passes and turnovers in week one against a very good defense in Houston, and direct three wins in the next five games! Ryan’s decisions, arm strength, toughness, and the ability to extend plays gives this offense multiple options anywhere on the field. Instead of protecting a young quarterback, the Dolphins are leaning on him to have success!
2) Defense Has Play Makers – It’s nice to watch how aggressive and for the most part how disciplined the defense has played early this season. The fun part about it is that it’s not just Cam Wake, Randy Starks or Karlos Dansby! Young players have contributed immensely to the cause, and at multiple positions. Olivier Vernon has shown the ability to get to the quarterback and set the edge against the run. Nolan Carroll has been counted on to fill in on the corner and has made the most of his opportunity. Koa Misi and Reshad Jones have also been solid and Jones has been the quarterback of the secondary.
Teams haven’t been able to run the football with any consistency, which makes it easier to get after the passer on second or third and long! Sean Smith is turning into a veteran on the corner and teams are staring to respect his abilities! The mixture of youth and experience is promising and should continue to help win football games!
3) Coaching Staff Paying Dividends - Head Coach Joe Philbin has brought change and structure to South Florida and it’s working. His straight forward approach is resonating with his players and the two coordinators in Mike Sherman and Kevin Coyle complement his coaching style. Just take one look at the offense that’s been installed and my first thought is that it’s exciting to watch, and hard to defend. Our defense has been stellar against the run and Coyle has played an aggressive style lately that has opposing offenses turning the football over with regularity. This team looks completely different on offense because of the pace it executes at, and on defense because there’s more depth at every position.
4) Hartline Emerges – The talk of the off-season was that a major upgrade was needed at the wide receiver position. Not only didn’t we have a dominant performer that put fear into a defense, but also the national conversation was that the Dolphins didn’t have the players on the roster that could carry the load. Brian Hartline missed most of the OTA’s (surgery) and the entire pre-season with a lower leg injury, but emerged as the playmaker this offense needed. He leads the team in receptions with 29 (Davone Bess has 28) and in yards with 514. Through five games he lead the entire NFL in receiving yards and will continue to be counted on because in this West Coast Offense, you never know when it will be your turn to have a huge numbers game!
5) Finish! – I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t entertain the thoughts of what if we found a way to win in overtime against the Jets and the Cardinals! This team had the real possibility of sitting at 5-1 going into the bye week two full games ahead of everyone in the division. Okay, so know I’m back to reality and feeling confident about what I learned in the back to back wins at Cincinnati and at home against the Rams. The Dolphins found ways to win down the stretch and isn’t that how .500 teams become winning teams!
I get a feeling that this team is resilient, and doesn’t panic on either side of the football. They can play in tight games and still play loose, confident that there going to find a way to win. That’s what my gut tells me about this group of men and if I’m right, fastens your seat belt because it’s going to be a race down to the wire in the AFC East!
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.