When you look at the 2011 Miami Dolphins… what do you see? The obvious answer is an 0 – 7 team that’s struggling in every facet of the game, and battling to be in the front-running for the “Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.”
That’s a correct answer, but that’s only scratching the surface of the real reasons for this season’s epic meltdown.
So what’s the root cause(s) of this colossal collapse?
After analyzing the situation, I wish it were an easily recognizable single problem that could be immediately remedied (i.e. firing the coach, naming a new starting QB, etc…). Unfortunately, it isn’t, and requires several major overhaul changes.
Here are just my top five problems that need to be addressed to turn the tides, and reverse our Dolphins demise:
Lack of Leadership and Direction – From the GM down to the playing field, there is no clearly defined leadership or direction. Look at any successful NFL franchise, and you can immediately pinpoint the leaders and their direction. The most obvious example would be the undefeated Packers, so I’ll defer to one of the biggest turnaround surprises of 2011, the 49ers – John Harbaugh (HC), Alex Smith (QB) and Frank Gore (RB), Patrick Willis (LB), and Ted Ginn Jr. (KR/PR) are the keys. Easy! Harbaugh instilled new confidence and swagger in his team, game plans according to his players strengths, and mixes it up enough to keep the opposition guessing. Alex Smith is a far cry from an “elite QB” but he’s not asked to be “elite;” just a game manager. Feed the ball to Frank Gore, and complete the simple passes to the open receivers. Patrick Willis is to lead his D in “smash mouth” fashion and be more physical than their opponents, and Ted Ginn Jr. is to ensure the Offense gets quality field position from kickoffs and punt returns. It’s simple, it’s logical, it’s clearly defined, and it works (as evidenced by their 6 – 1 record thus far)! Isn’t it ironic that Majority Owner Stephen Ross was courting John Harbaugh last summer, and we used to have Ted Ginn Jr. in Miami before releasing him? “Things that make you say, hmmm.”
Lack of Mental Toughness - There’s no mental toughness remaining on this team! Teams that come from behind and teams that jump out to early leads and withstand late comebacks, are mentally tough (i.e. Packers and Lions). They’re able to take their oppositions best shot, and win anyway. The Dolphins have failed to do that since Sparano’s first year as a Head Coach, and quite honestly… I’d credit Bill Parcells for that season anyway. It’s a conscious decision that every coach and player must make on game day, or kiss that game goodbye.
Lack of Confidence - The current roster no longer believes they can win, and it shows in every 4th quarter of every game. You can sense it in their body language, and see it on their faces. They have that collective “oh no… not again” look late in second halves. Opposition feeds on that fear, like sharks with blood in the water! Until there’s confidence breathed into this football team, they’re doomed to fail.
Poor Strategy - The Organization is attempting to win a games in the “modern football era” by playing “throwback” football. You can no longer rely primarily on “pounding the rock” 40+ times to win football games. Teams have evolved into quick strike offenses,which can rack points up in a hurry. Miami doesn’t have a quality passing QB, nor do they have the ability to shut quality passers down. This outdated strategy is doomed to fail.
Lack of Cohesion – Teams with long losing stretches begin to point fingers and blame each other (as I addressed in a previous blog). Once that happens, either drastic measures need to be taken to resolve the issue, or you might as well cut your losses,and leave. With the aforementioned lack of leadership, I believe we might as well toss those tailgating tents in the garage, and call it a season. I hope for better, but history hasn’t been on our side in this department.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying Dol-Fans… I still hold out some hope for our beloved team, but reality is telling me not to “hold my breath” for miracles this year.
Maybe once these areas have been properly addressed, we’ll begin to see our Dolphins contend for League Championships. Here’s hoping!
Hey, does anyone have John Gruden or Brian Billick’s phone numbers? We have a crisis in South beach!