The only thing I am worried about is, remember Tony S's second year compared to his first. It seemed like he lost all the faith and hard playing which is weird cause they won the division!
Good point but the reality is just like Tony S. first year the schedule was similar. When the schedule got harder , reality set in. I fear the same will happen now.
Sparano had an easy schedule, a gimmick that took teams a while to figure out, and a QB who didn't throw away games against teams of similar or worse ability. 2008 was more of a mirage than reality. I can't say for certain if we are looking at the same thing here but I have hope in a few areas.
First and most important is QB play. Tannehill is doing his best Pennington impression lately by not throwing games away and exercising good game management. He is blessed with the arm strength to make throws Pennington could not, therefore causing defenses to not simply stack the box on every play.
The OL is looking consistent and while slacking as of late, at least the running backs are putting the ball in the end zone (for the most part) when at goal line situations. Its not just field goals. Back to the OL, it just seems that Miami doesn't HAVE TO make any changes whereas past years we always talked about a gaping hole needing to be replaced.
The AFC East is weakening. Before you jump on me for this please let me explain. Sparano played a Brady-less AFC East, a Favre sinking ship, and I can't even remember who QB'd the Bills in year 1. When he faced Brady, the peak of the Jets D, and an improving Bills team in year 2 he began to flounder into mediocrity. Say what you will about a watered down offense for Henne, but the WC was toast and his conservative nature failed him against better competition. Fast forward to now and the Pats are not as good. The Jets are not as good. The Bills are not improving. Each team would have to make some major moves for next year to turn it around quickly. I don't think Philbin has to worry about facing a 180 of a team like Sparano did in his second year. He can build the Fins while the others have to conduct lengthy rebuilds or retoolings, keeping things on a more level playing field. Don't get me wrong, the Pats should be the favorites but I don't view them as a dominant, insurmountable threat.
Miami has a lot of ammo for next offseason. Say what you will but Ireland has done a solid job in his two drafts where Parcells wasn't involved. He has a plethora of picks and a lot of money to re-sign current guys and target an efficient FA. I hope he sticks to not overpaying an unknown asset ie big pay day FA who never lives up to the billing. I already know people will nitpick about how every draft pick hasn't performed but his percentages aren't much different from other successful GMs.