Dolphin Contract Players Doing Themselves no Favors

Now shout fans understand why I wouldn’t come off the five win prediction I made prior to the season. Now they understand what was tugging in the back of my mind forcing me to avoid following my heart. Been there, done that, no way was I setting myself up for the inevitable disappointment. I wasn’t surprised when I turned the television off at the beginning of the third quarter of the Tennessee debacle, I expected it.

After the 30-9 destruction of the Jets, the Dolphins should have been poised to play hardnosed competitive football for the rest of the season, but they packed it in. They beat their nemesis, proved they could rise above 500, and started beating their chests forgetting there was still half a season to play. Many of the dismal stats that fans refused to believe were important, showed up when emotion could no longer carry the day.

“That team I watched for 30 minutes was not the team I coached for eight games,” said Joe Philbin. Welcome to our world Joe. We’ve come to understand, talent outside the QB position is not much different from team to team. We understand the game is about intensity, discipline and overcoming adversity. We learned this through watching other teams rise from the abyss, like Colts have done with a rookie QB. We’ve learned good teams show up for games every week because any team can win in the NFL.

The Dolphins have yet to figure it out. The QB or coach doesn’t seem to matter, it’s the new Dolphin legacy, South Beach millionaires cannot be expected to show up for mere football games, they may get dirt under their manicured finger nails. The stands were noticeably sparse, perhaps the faithful decided they would not get fooled again by a team that teases and then kicks them in the face. One of the Dolphinshout brethren drove all the way from South Carolina to feel that donkey punch. He will certainly think twice before undertaking that endeavor again.

All the clich├ęs dictating how to lose were on display, not taking care of the ball and getting baited into bonehead penalties, not tackling and being in the wrong coverage or no coverage at all, being completely dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage, it was all there Sunday. Losing is inevitable when the team plays like losers. It’s okay Dolphin fans you can say it, the Dolphins are losers.

Mr. Ross, it’s not about celebrity and extravagance, in fact it’s the opposite. The real Miami fans are dwindling because the team appears to care more about celebrity and extravagance than football. The supposedly sold-out stadium was half empty because the tickets are bought by people that can afford extravagance but could care less about football. The real fans are priced out and people that can afford the tickets don’t show up. It’s the same product on the field, players making too much money go partying on South Beach then don’t show up for the game.

Sadly, Joe Philbin is only now beginning to realize what he got himself into when he accepted this job. It must be puzzling to look up at a sold-out stadium with a sea of empty seats. It must be puzzling to see a talented football team decide to not show up for a game. The Dolphin roster is full of players in a contract year and the impact on their future value should be an incentive to play at high level week in and week out, but it appears to be of no significance. It makes sense, once there's a few million in the bank football doesn't really matter anymore.

Logic would say one of two things, either these players do not want to play in Miami or they are just not very good. Not wanting to play in Miami would be inconsequential when a free agent can select his next destination. Playing well in Miami would only raise his value no matter where he lands, so that only leaves one option, these players do not care. They expect the fans to show up in the stands but they don’t show up on the field.

The coaches can prepare a team to play, they can go through all the scenarios expected on game day, but they cannot take the field. It is up to the players to show up on game day and the Dolphins did not. The only clear message after so many years of below average performances is to jettison the players that are not showing up. Let pending free agents go. The team should be very careful which players on this free agent list deserve a premium contract.

Jake Long
Matt Moore
R.J. Stanford
Randy Starks
Tony McDaniel
Jonathon Amaya
Reggie Bush
Austin Spitler
Ray Feinga
Anthony Fasano
Nate Garner
Jonathan Freeny
Chris Clemons
Jason Trusnik
Pat Devlin
Sean Smith
Jabar Gaffney
Marcus Thigpen
Brian Hartline
Jeron Mastrud
Anderson Russell

Will Barker

The Dolphin management needs to call these players out. Some will demand a salary comparable to the best players in the league at their positions. The question is, are they playing at that level? Of the starters listed on the left, only Randy Starks, Anthony Fasano and Brian Hartline are playing a level worthy of consideration and only Starks is in the upper echelon at his position. Long, Bush, Clemons and Smith are not worthy of anything more than a mediocre deal equitable with their mediocre play. Of the non-starters, only Matt Moore is worth the $2.5 million he is paid as a backup.

Two weeks in a row and the names Long, Smith and Bush rise to the top of the ire in Dolphin fandom. For the second week in a row Dolphin fans are asking these players to step up and be a veteran presence. It is time for Joe Philbin to make some critical decisions, it’s obvious by sitting of Bush and Incognito he is very unhappy with players making stupid mistakes. These are also the players others look to for leadership and it is not happening.

It may be a knee jerk reaction to call for heads to roll, but the tabulator is making the calculations. If the Dolphins wish to change the culture of the team, players that are not showing up on Sunday should be looking over their shoulder. Joe Philbin has one chance to make it as an NFL head coach. He has to decide whether a player is in or out every Sunday and the players not showing up will need to be gone if he hopes to succeed.

Dolphin fans are over it, they have watched season after season of being out of contention by the beginning of November and they are not going to continue being disappointed. There will be more and more empty seats and it should be no surprise to Stephen Ross, Joe Philbin, Jeff Ireland or any player on this team...

The Dolphins need a wakeup call because if they spend another game sleep waking, the season will be over and another hunk of the once proud Dolphin fan base will walk away. There is a lot better things to do than watch the most disappointing team in the NFL. It's not worth expending the time, emotion or money on a team that can't bother showing up on Sunday.

If the Dolphins can't show up, I'm certainly not...