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Week 7: Dolphins at Jaguars
I like a roller coaster ride as much as the next person, but these Miami Dolphins are starting to make me queesy, no, scratch that, I am queesy. At the risk of an upset stomach, lets go through the season so far. Game one against the Patriots, the Dolphins start the game poorly, by half time it's looking like a Patriot blowout, the coaster is heading down. Then the second half, it's like the teams changed uniforms, Dolphins come out like gang busters and take the game from the Patriots, the coaster is climbing.
Week two, Buffalo, can't stop Sammy Watkins, Buffalo wins it's third game in a row against the Dolphins, coaster is going back down. Week three, Chiefs, Dolphins get rolled over by Chiefs, the downward coaster continues. Week four, Raiders, Dolphins white wash Raiders in merry old England, everything works, coaster is on the upswing, taking us into the by week on a high note.
Week six, Packers, Dolphins play an awful first half, and back down goes the coaster, but wait, the second half starts and the Dolphins are here to play, they make a ferocious comeback, coaster is on it's way back up but the Packers take the game to send the coaster back down. Week seven, Da Bears, Dolphins have a complete dominant performance, coaster on a big climb.Week eight, Jaguars, Dolphins come out flat and have an absolutely awful first half, Blake Bortles is our best weapon..., coaster seems like it might crash, second half is better, we come away with a win, but Bortles remains the best weapon for us in the game, the coaster is on a slight incline.
Anyone else need Dramamine? Which one of these games represents the real Miami Dolphins? The dominating team that beat up on the Raiders and Bears, the team that got clobbered by the Chiefs and loses to the Bills, the Jeckel and Hyde team from the Patriot and Packers games or the team that needed a couple pick sixes to overcome a one win team. Who knows, I think it's a reflection of the lack of leadership, which leaves the Dolphins without an identity, no leadership, no identity.
With the schedule being what it is for the next nine games this team needs to find it's identity, six of the games are against teams with winning records. This up and down roller coaster type of play will not result in enough wins against these teams. So now is the time, with the Chargers coming to town, now is the time, will the real Miami Dolphins please stand up.
Two weeks ago Miami was at 2-3 and the forum was full of doom and gloom. The Angel of Death had apparently descended once again and all hope was lost. Now, 2 weeks, and more importantly, two wins later they're at 4-3 and the forum is alive with playoff posts. This possibility or that possibility are lighting up the threads I'm guilty. It is hard not to be. I've been a fan since 1971. I pictured Miami going to one superbowl after another when Marino dominated the NFL in 1984. It wasn't to be. Miami has never returned to the Superbowl. Miami did, however, make the playoffs and play in some exciting playoff games during the 1990s and even as late as the early 2000s won a playoff game. They've been back once since then and that was an early exodus. In between there is mostly average teams. They been bad enough to grab the number 1 overall pick once, but never good enough to make the playoffs more than once. We've had some teases...last year's back to back losses to make sure they failed again is probably fresh on most people's minds. Could this be the year? Just like the kid who is waiting for that special gift at Christmas, every year brings hope. Dare we take a peek? Let's look at it.
There are only 3 teams with losing records left on the entire schedule. That is 9 games with 6 playoff contenders standing between Miami and its first post season birth in 6 years. Here's what we know: Miami will be competitive in those 6 games. Just like the Greenbay game it will get decided in the 4th quarter in most cases. The only must-wins right now as I see them are Buffalo, San Diego and/or Baltimore. @NE and @Denver are games they'll likely lose although we know the NE game will be a dog fight. Oddly enough, Miamiusually plays well against Manning too so that should be interesting. What I dislike about the odds of the Denver Game is their defense against Miami's offense. They have a legit pass rush and Miami has struggled against teams with a good pass rush. What Miami can't afford is a loss to the Jets (twice) or the Vikings. They have to win those games. If they lose just one, it becomes near mission impossible. 10-6 is almost guaranteed a spot. 9-7 and you'll need the tie-breakers to get in. Miami sits at 4-3. Let's assume they take care of business against the Jets and Vikes. That leaves them at 7-3. That means they have to find a way to win 3 of the other 6 games against playoff contenders. San Diego is up this week. The importance of this game for both teams can't be understated.
The final piece to this puzzle is which Dolphins Offense shows up. The defense has been fairly consistent every week. The offense's only consistent aspect is its ability to be inconsistent. They were terrible against the Jags. Just when we thought they were putting together a string of games ... Raiders, Greenbay and Chicago...they come out and play their worst game of the season against the Jags. Let's hope that was the one game. They're entering the teeth of their schedule and can ill afford a hiccup.