“There’s not going to be any excuses for us,’’ said third-year coach Tony Sparano. “We want to win games right now.’’http://www.boston.com/sports/football/a ... evolution/
That’s the message the coaches are sending to a young team that seems primed for a run of sustained success: Don’t use age as a crutch.
Miami hasn’t elicited as many headlines over the last two years as its AFC East brethren in New York and New England, but the roster-building effort its front office has executed since 2008 is every bit as impressive.
The power troika of vice president Bill Parcells, general manager Jeff Ireland, and Sparano was handed a roster broken by years of poor veteran evaluations (see: Wes Welker) and bad drafting. Internally, it was widely believed that the situation was far worse than the one Parcells and many of the people he brought with him to Miami took over in Dallas in 2003.
That explains why the turnover has been stark. Just 12 players remain from the previous regime, four of whom start, and just seven selections from drafts of 2007 or earlier are left.
But it wasn’t until this year that the youth movement really took hold.
There are just 11 players 29 or older; the team has an average age of 25.64 and experience level of 3.23 years; and nearly half the 80-man roster — 38 players — is age 23-26.
Many of those players were around for the renaissance season of 2008, when Miami went from 1-15 to 11-5 and won the division title. Most were there for last year, when the Dolphins fought through a rash of injuries to limp in at 7-9. And that’s kind of the idea: These guys are young, but they have taken their lumps, so there’s no worrying about how good the team might be down the line.
“None of us are thinking that,’’ said left tackle Jake Long, drafted first overall in 2008. “We’re ready this year. We’re not going to shy away from it and we do have young guys, but we’re going to work our butts off, and Coach Sparano has pounded it in our heads. We all believe it, and we’re going to go out and do it.’’