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Week 6: Dolphins at da Bears
The Miami Dolphins seem to be in a perpetual state of limbo, are they good, are they bad, who knows, each week and sometimes each half brings something different from this team. The lack of consistency is what brings on this feeling of limbo, it's hard to say that they're just mediocre, because they play good teams well at times and play bad teams badly at times.
They don't play OK all the time, which is what you normally get from a mediocre team, they usually play well or poorly, and this is due to a lack of leadership. Not getting leadership from the head coach Joe Philbin, not getting leadership from inconsistent QB Ryan Tannehill and not getting leadership from anyone on defense.
It becomes difficult then to rally the troops, or circle the wagons without leadership and you get a team that you don't know how to categorize, a team in limbo.
Philbin is too desperatly clinging on to his hope of a job to be the leader, but he isn't a natural leader in this capacity anyway. Joe is a "ducks in a row" leader, he can get things organized for you, he can remind people of their duties and responsibilities, but he is not a leader of men so to speak.
Ryan Tannehill is young and inconsistent as a QB, so naturally it's hard for him to become the leader. Especially if he isn't a born leader, he first has to build a platform to stand on, that platform is his play, his platform is not sound right now, so it's difficult to be a leader without sound footing beneath your feet.
The defense has some really good players but none has emerged as a real leader. They are apparently losing faith in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, with good reason in my opinion, so there is no leadership coming from there. They play well, but during crunch times there is no one carrying the banner for which to rally around.
So here are the Dolphins right now, in limbo, a very uncomfortable place for us fans to be in, a sound ship with a malfunctioning rudder. Staying afloat but not having full control of their direction. The team sorely needs someone to go over the side and fix that rudder, a leader, someone to rally around, someone to put on their shoulders, someone who is willing and has the ability to to put the team on their back.
The Dolphins go to Chicago this week, and this game is much like any other game the Dolphins go into, winnable, losable,... limbo. Leadership is the only thing that can pull them out of this limbo, I'm looking for someone, anyone, to climb over the rail and fix that rudder, no team ever needed that more then the Dolphins do right now, someone to lead them out of limbo.
Yes. It is too early. We have to endure the growing pains associated with a new offense. It has been terrible. It has been okay. It has been absolutely terrific...all in the same game. Therein lies the rub: the only complete game was against the Raiders. However the offense was brilliant in the 2nd half against both the Patriots and Packers. So what gives? Well there is a ton of speculation as always with a team that is sub .500 teams. The obvious problem is they're running out of time to fix it. There is 11 games remaining but to be in the playoffs...they'll need to win 8 of them. That is a tall order...maybe too tall. So let me throw my 2 cents into the problems as I see them.
As always, problems usually start at the top. Philbin is a nice guy. ... too nice a guy. He seems to let his team run around his back to the media and vent their frustrations. Most coaches reel this stuf in because like a festering sore, it only serves to further aggravate the problem. We're still less than a year removed from the Ritchie-Martin fiasco that blew this team up late in the year. Philbin's weak leadership allowed that siutation to happen. You might hear of a Patriots Player complaining ... but then you find them traded the following week. I remember when Josh McDaniels was the coach in Denver. He allowed Brandon Marshall and a few other malcontents to blow up that team. That ended up working well for Denver in the long run but short term it was a loud announcement to everyone that McDaniels had lost the team. Philbin is past the point of losing his team in this author's opinion. My personal opinion is he will not last the season. I sincerely hope I'm wrong and the team makes a dramatic turnaround.
Ryan Tannehill remains a question although to me it is clear he has all the physical tools. He is a talented guy who still needs some time to figure out how to do things better. For a mobile QB, he takes way too many sacks. He also stil makes some annoying misreads on plays that he should have down by now. His deep game...is non-existant. That is all the bad stuff. For the good, he is super accurate on anything midrange and below. He has a quick delivery and a strong arm that threads the needle. When he gets into a rhythm, he maks you forget about all the bad things because it really is that goood. He had 3 9+ play drives in the 2nd half against Greenbay that all ended in TD. He put Miami 7 points up with 5 minutes left to play. While his final drive was less than memorable the coaches share the blame in that by not doing what usually wins games like that... running the football.
Kevin Coyle was my least favorite coach and I was beyond irritated when they hung on to him. If we rewind last season, he got most of the FA talent. He got 3 of the 4 top draft picks including the 3rd overall. He fields, quite possibly, one of the most talented groups on paper in the NFL. Yet it is also one of the most under-achieving gropus in the NFL. Just take the Greenbay game for an example. This unit should be dominant. When the offense sat them on the bench in the 2nd half and built a 7 point lead they should've came out and shutdown Greenbay. They didn't. As a matter of fact, they gave up 10 points in the final 5 minutes. It is the story of his defense. They can't hold a lead. If you were just to look at the stats, they look top tier. But this defense in the hands of a guy like Rex Ryan would be top 2. it would dominate the opposition. Coyles defenses fail way too often in crunch time. Go back to KC. Miami had just pulled within striking range when the defense gave up another score. You can make every defense in the world about a lousy offense putting them in a bad position... but good defenses don't need excuses. They win games by temselves in many cases. I can't remember many, if any, games Coyle's defense simply won by itself.
The special teams are really bad. Rizzi has done a terrible job with this unit. It is a big reason why this team can't win games. Even stalwarts like Brandon Fields is struggling. While it is difficult to say this is all the coaches fault, it did begin to fall apart when he became the coach.
I'm usually painfully realistic. It is just in my nature. Any team can catch fire and turn it around. We witnessed that with 3 years ago when they finished the year 6-3. However, it usually comes on the heels of a big change. If Miami wins this weekend, they'll return to .500 and revive hope. If they lose, it will most certainly damage any hopes of a post season birth beyond repair. You can't understate the difference between 3-3 and 2-4. There just isnt' a way to sugar coat it. Win. That's it... win. If not, then it might be time to fire Philbin and start looking at alternatives.