[01/06/14] -- It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish.
As I've been saying all year, it's not how you start, it's how you finish that counts. The Indianapolis Colts demonstrated that this past weekend when they rebounded from a 38-10 deficit to overcome the Kansas City Chiefs in a thrilling 45-44 victory. The Miami Dolphins also demonstrated it this year in a grander way, starting 3-0 to open the season, but losing their last two games to division opponents with worse records than they had to fall out of the playoffs. What makes that even more galling is that if the Dolphins had won either of their final two games, they would have made the playoffs and gone to Cincinnati to face the Bengals - a team they had beaten earlier in the season.
Clearly, the Dolphins are not making progress as a team under the current administration. It is clear to anyone who has been watching this team that they need to make some changes upstairs. In his final column of the 2013 season, Phins.com Columnist Chris Shashaty gives us his take on what those changes should be in his article Time for Ross to Decide.
[12/12/13] -- Dolphins Face Defining Season Moment as they Host Patriots
The Dolphins enter the final 3 games of the 2013 season on Sunday with the opportunity to prove to the world and to themselves that they have progressed enough this year to belong in the playoffs. Their foe is the New England Patriots, who have beaten the Dolphins the last 7 times they have played, but who suffered a major setback last week with the loss of Rob Gronkowski for the year.
For the Dolphins, this game is the opportunity they have been waiting for all season. With a victory over the Patriots, they will gain respect and improve their chances of making the playoffs dramatically. More importantly, however, a victory will prove that they can play with the elite teams in the league and will set them up psychologically to finish the season very strong and boost them into the playoffs.
In simpler terms, this is the most important game of the Dolphins’ 2013 season. This is the moment the Dolphins can reverse a decade of futility by winning an important game against a tough, divisional opponent. They will have to play their best football, make some big plays, eliminate mistakes, and not let up for a full 60 minutes to win. But if they do that, they will come away with a victory that will bury all the ridiculous controversy that has been swirling around the team for most of the season.
Curt's Comments: As I've been saying all year (and will probably continue to say), it's not how you start, it's how you finish. I believe that this game will boil down to which team has the better 2nd half and especially which team has the better 4th quarter. The team that makes the most plays and fewest mistakes in the final 15 minutes will win this game.
[11/08/13] -- Dolphins Face Bucs; BullyGate Continues
Practically forgotten in all the hype over Jonathan Martin's charges of bullying by his teammates (not just Incognito) is the fact that the Dolphins face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night football next Monday. The Dolphins - who should win this game - have been so overwhelmed with the unwanted attention of the situation in Miami that it is hard to tell how well they have been preparing for the game. David Hyde of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel thinks that this media attention is actually bringing the team together and believes the Dolphins will ultimately be stronger and angrier than they would otherwise have been. He predicts that the Dolphins will whollop the Bucs 24-10. Personally, the only thing I'm sure of is that we will know by Tuesday morning whether or not he is right.
On the Incognito vs Martin front, Phins.com Columnist Chris Shashaty has his say today in his latest article for us: Making Sense Out of Chaos.
Curt's Comments: For the record, my position on this situation is that I don't know enough about it to have an informed opinion yet. The only things I am sure of are that we don't have the whole story and that most of the media "pundits" are feeding us incredible amounts of unverified bullshit to gain readers. Personally, I have never been much of a Richie Incognito fan and I can see where he could be guilty of an inappropriate level of harassment of Jonathan Martin. On the other hand, there are an awful lot of holes in the stories of the alleged harassment and the nature of Martin's abrupt departure from the team is questionable to say the least. Plus, I think that Jonathan Martin's emotional problems are probably a lot more severe than we've been lead to believe.
Regardless of how the story eventually comes out, however, two men have had their NFL careers ruined and a proud NFL franchise has been permanently tarnished. Whoever turns out to be at fault - and I suspect it will be many more than just one person - the Miami Dolphins will carry this stain around forever. It is a sad, sad time for everyone involved.
[11/01/13] -- Dolphins Beat Bengals; Possibly Salvage Season
The Dolphins broke their 4 game losing streak last night, beating the AFC North-leading Bengals 22-20 in overtime to stop their slide and hopefully right the ship that has been sinking since their trip to New Orleans. The Dolphins' defense was the star of the night, holding off a tough Bengals offense and shrugging off fatigue and exhaustion to make the key plays in overtime to win the game. The final play was made by Cameron Wake, who blew through the Bengals' right guard to sack QB Andy Dalton just barely in the endzone for a safety and a victory.
Still, despite this dramatic victory, the Dolphins are in trouble at the halfway point in the season. Their offense is struggling - they scored just 13 points last night - and there is plenty of evidence of internal rifts within the team. If the Dolphins are to continue to right the ship, head coach Joe Philbin must exert control from his position and keep the Dolphins going in the right direction, while dealing forcefully but fairly with the distractions that have been plaguing the team over the past few weeks. Today, Phins.com Columnist Chris Shashaty goes into detail about the problems the Dolphins must resolve to keep this team driving forward in his latest column Time for Philbin to Act.
Curt's Comments: Once again, the Dolphins prove that it's not how you start, it's how you finish that counts. It doesn't matter if you fall behind by 2 touchdowns (like they did against the Bills) or jump out to a 2 touchdown lead (as they did against both the Patriots and the Bengals) that counts - it's what you do in the 4th quarter and overtime that matters. Last night, Cameron Wake -despite being exhausted from being on the field much too long on the second half - reached down inside himself and found the internal strength to make the play that won the game. Tannehill stepped up at the end of the game to drive the team into scoring position to put the game into overtime with several excellent plays.
And what works on the game level, works on the season level. The Dolphins are now 4-4, but must finish strong to have a shot at the playoffs. Joe Philbin must keep his team focused and keep them improving to have a winning season. The ball is in his court and the Dolphins must finish better than they started to call this year a success.