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Let's face it. We're as fickle as they get. We praise the coaches and players with glad adulations one week and rip them and call for their heads after the first bad loss. We're prone to emotional over-reactions and knee jerk reactions. It's what we do, at least many of us. We're football fans. Wins like the one we just enjoyed watching against the Bills have brought the word "playoffs" back into the forums, where just a couple of weeks ago posters were warning us that we would likely not win another game this season. It's a roller coaster ride, one that one poster complained was making him "sea-sick". 

My more cynical side tells me that the last 2 weeks are just another tease like we have seen so many times before as Dolphin fans. That is a perfectly reasonable warning, too. History would tell us that it is foolish to put too much faith in a mini-streak like we have just experienced. The wheels will fall off as soon as... an offensive lineman gets injured, or Cam Wake wears out, or opposing defenses figure out how to scheme against the zone blocking scheme that has turned Jay Ajayi into a fantasy football darling. It's not only understandable, it's reasonable to feel a little "queezy" about trusting this team to do any more than tease us with the blatant lack of depth at so many places on our roster.

So with all that reasonable skepticism acknowledged, let's think of a few reasons why we can reasonably hope for more. More than just status quo. More than a finish of somewhere between 6 to 9 wins per season. More than we've seen over the last decade or two. 

 

1. Topping the list of reasons why I think we can reasonably hope for more is what I have seen in Adam Gase. He has made mistakes, and his teams were poorly prepared to play in their losses. I hold him accountable for a lot of the bad decisions made early in the season. BUT. He shows the kind of leadership needed to get beyond mediocre. He also shows the kind of flexibility to set aside his preconception of how his offense would be implemented and adjust to the talent, comfort level and skills of the players he has. He listened to his offensive linemen when they implored him to stick to the running game, and that has made the team relevent again, at least for the moment.

2. Jay Ajayi. Yes, we know our O-line can be VERY good when the starting five are all out there. And as long as that lasts, we can feel confident in almost any matchup that we can be competitive. But regardless of the line play, none of us knew what we really had in Ajayi until two weeks ago. This is the guy the team thought they were getting when the drafted him last year. A dominant, downhill physical runner that has a very good first burst through the line. He is a guy we can build around on offense, IF he can play consistently at this level and IF he can stay healthy. Man, was he awesome last week. That 53 yard run from inside the Miami 5 yard line was the prettiest run I've seen by a Dolphin since Ricky Williams (pre-retirement).

3. Vance Joseph. Nobody earned more criticism in the first 5 games in my opinion than Miami's defensive coordinator. The "wide 9" defense seemed to be failing. We didn't seem to have the linebackers needed to make his scheme work. But against the Steelers and Bills, (two teams with very good running games) we held up well. The personnel changes and subtle adjustments in game plans have the defense moving in a good direction. If he continues to be willing to adjust and tinker with the packages and personnel groups, maybe we can see this defense play the way we all hoped it would. I'm not ready to annoint him as anything yet... just saying that I've been encouraged with the play of the defense and the game plan we brought to the last two games. 

 

This formula... pound the rock with our suddenly elite offensive line and beast mode Ajayi, let the quarterback make the occassional big play and limit turnovers, eat up the time of possession and play tough, physical defense is one we can win with as long as the line holds up. The next stretch of games is extremely winnable. So, Adam Gase, is our new hope in this season well placed, or is it just more fool's gold? There's work to be done, like cutting down the penalties and incorporating some of the players coming off of the PUP list. But one thing is for sure... it's sure nice going into our bye week after a win like we just had, on a 2 game streak and playing more physically than any team we have fielded recently. It's enough to make us dream for 2 weeks of embarassing the Jets by running the ball down their throats and returning Fitzpatrick passes for pick-sixes. 

That's enough to inspire hope in even the most jaded cynics.

To be, or not to be

Gary Ramey, Phinfever, Miami DolphinsWill the real Miami Dolphins please stand up. The team that opened the season wasn’t terrible. They lost on the road to 2 teams expected to compete for their respective conference championships. However the team of the following 3 games was pretty lousy. The last game in that series against Tennessee was particularly putrid on both sides of the ball. Then we have the team of the last 2 weeks. It’s a smash mouth, physical group of players who look hungry to win. Let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic…lol. My heart wants to believe this team is over the hump and can go on a run. Their next 7 opponents all have losing records with the exception of the Cardinals who are .500. Go 5-2 in that stretch and they’ll be sitting at 8-6 and in the thick of the playoff race.  The hardest of those games will be @ San Diego whom should have a really good record but suffered 4 straight 4th quarter collapses. So what are we to believe? Who knows? I don’t. I would say that if the OL and Ajayi all stay healthy it is reasonable to think they’ll be at least 5-2 in that stretch. If not, there is little to no depth behind them and that wouldn’t be good for Miami. They are 2 OL injuries away from being 0-7 during that stretch. We’re back to being cautiously optimistic.

Ryan Tannehill – I’ve been accused of being a hater by just about everyone on the forum. I guess I just want to see the team return to dominance. The title of franchise QB means the team believes you’re that guy. Right now, I don’t think RT is the one.  I went into this season with the idea that he would need to prove he is the guy and not just the QB who can manage a good team or great team to the post season. He needs to be a guy who can pick the team up when things aren’t going well and make them competitive every time (not win every game but be in every game and win their share of them). Miami hasn’t had that since Marino retired. Tom Brady is that guy. There are a host of guys that fill out the next tier of play that make their teams competitive even when they’re not that good in many areas. I told people after watching Dak Prescott dismantle Miami in the preseason he was going to be great.  RT has the talent. He has a great arm. He has mobility….but so do a lot of young QBs coming out of college. RT seems to lack pocket awareness. He seems to not be aware he has dropped right into the path of the oncoming DE. 2 steps up and 1 to the right is the pocket….he fails to find it. He locks in on his targets and stares them down. Defensive linemen are coached to watch his eyes and get their hands up. He doesn’t have good field vision and often doesn’t see the wide open target.  Furthermore, he just won’t throw the ball if he thinks the WR is covered even if it is single coverage. All of these things add up to him holding the ball too long on many drop backs.  DBs are taught to just run with the WR, keeping the inside position and RT won’t throw it. If the back shoulder throw to Stills was truly planned, they need to a do a ton of that down the stretch.  The bottom line is I want RT to be the guy. He is likeable. He is tough. However, he has 9 games left to prove he has what it takes. He now has a punishing running game to keep the other teams defense on Ajayi. The Jets boast the leagues 2nd ranked rush defense. If Miami wins this game it will be on the arm of Ryan Tannehill. 

Btw, my blog always ends with this phrase

Go Tannehill

GD2 (Go Dolphins too)

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