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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
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.