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With the season now only a few days away, with the roster now down to 53, there is a question that begs to be asked: What is success for the 2013 Miami Dolphins?
Here’s my take: There is only one successful destination for this team, one goal, one objective, one flicker of light at the end of the long, arduous 16-game road.
You don’t spend the kind of the money the Dolphins did this offseason without that as your clear, undeniable objective.
You don’t bring in a Mike Wallace, a Dannell Ellerbe or a Brent Grimes if you are stuck in some long, winding rebuilding mode.
You don’t build a defense like this one, allowing General Manager Jeff Ireland to maneuver as he sees fit, if you’re not pointing to a 17th game.
Playoffs. That’s the goal. That’s the objective. That’s what success means for this football team. And, yes, that’s what this season is all about.
Recent history hasn’t been kind to these Dolphins. Four straight losing seasons serve as evidence. Not since the first four years of the franchise back in the late 1960’s has there been a run of losing to match this one. The fans, I know, are tired. But so are the coaches and the players. So is the entire organization. Tired of excuses. Tired of losing. Tired of watching other stories of success unfold around the league.
No, you won’t hear any bold predictions coming from the Dolphins locker room. Instead you hear soft-spoken confidence. You won’t hear players talking about how every year there is at least one team – last year it was the Colts — that goes from a losing record to a spot in the playoffs. You won’t hear them asking: Why can’t that team be us?
What you’ll see instead is a group of players focusing on the game in front of them, a coaching staff emphasizing immediate challenges. No long-term projections. No big picture analysis.
It is with this backdrop that the 2013 season begins. A roster filled with new faces. A season filled with new optimism. A schedule filled with imposing obstacles. A team trying to build some early season momentum.
Sure, there are a lot of “ifs” surrounding this football team.
If Ryan Tannehill can take that quantum leap. If Lamar Miller can be a special back. If Mike Wallace can produce big plays. If this defense can play as well as we think it can. If the core players can stay healthy.
All of those “ifs” have to be answered in a positive manner for the Dolphins to make a legitimate postseason run. That’s the challenge facing this football team as it prepares for Cleveland. That will be the challenge every week.
Yes, a winning season would be nice, certainly a step in the right direction. But the events of the past six months say the target should be higher. I say success is the playoffs. Anything less just won’t cut it.
On Wednesday, A.C. in the A.M. takes a close look at the maturation of quarterback Ryan Tannehill
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.