The Miami Dolphins Must Overcome Injury Bug

The last post was all about the Miami Dolphin glass half-full, but is the glass half-empty? Is the renewed energy surrounding the Dolphins a product of orange-colored glasses? Are folks in glass houses pitching stones? If you haven’t guessed it, the theme of this post is the glassy fragility of the Miami Dolphins.

The Miami offensive line teeters, balancing on a fiber optic tight rope ready for the glass fibers to fray like a knee ligament. Brandon Albert came to Miami with a history of incomplete seasons and that trend continued with a shortened 2014. In the euphoria of the preseason, it is easy to overlook the obvious and ignore Albert’s history of rarely playing 16 games in a season. Jason Fox filled in admirably until the Miami injury plague sidelined Albert’s backup in the second pre-season game.

Starting right guard Billy Turner missed all of last season on IR and starting left guard Dallas Thomas was drafted in need of shoulder surgery two seasons ago. 2014 began without Mike Pouncey for six weeks. Ja'Wuan James must be staying as far away from his line mates as possible to avoid catching the contagion. There is so little depth on the Miami offensive line, even a single injury could lead to disaster.

The Dolphins signed big rangy tight end Cameron Jordan but he arrives with concussion questions and Kenny Stills has missed time with tender legs. All of these problems loom glass-half-empty, taunting Miami fans who want desperately to believe but know the intoxicating whiskey swirls in a cracked tumbler. The possibility of an explosive offense is a shard away from dissolving into the lack of depth on the offensive line and tight end.

Miami fans shook their heads the moment Jamar Taylor limped off the field knowing the secondary could not withstand the loss of another starter. Taylor has yet to shed the injury bug plaguing him since he was drafted injured two years ago. Louis Delmas came to Miami an oft-injured free agent safety and limped off the field in the same condition. Miami fans like to ignore the detached Achilles tendon suffered by Brent Grimes a few short years ago.

The Linebacker crew is led by Koa Misi, who was unable to finish the 2014 season and has yet to play a snap in the 2015 pre-season. Jalani Jenkins and Chris McCain have been steady but their backup Jordan Tripp limped off a week ago and has not returned. Behind them waits, a plethora of undrafted free agent linebackers and Miami’s hopes may soon rest on whether one is a special player overlooked by the entire NFL.

A defense that gave away a 1st and 2nd round picks in the bust named Dion Jordan is as thin as fine crystal. The only real depth on the Dolphin roster is in the defensive line and wide receiver corps. This is the real reason Miami has not sniffed the playoffs since 2008. NFL football is a game of attrition. Teams that draft well and build a deep roster can flourish when the inevitable injuries begin piling up. Miami is not one of them.

When totaled up, the euphoria in Miami should be christened with a glass saltshaker heaved over the left shoulder. Yet, not all is ready to crumble in Dolphin land… The two most complete pieces of the puzzle have shown endurance Miami lacks elsewhere and are the keys to success.

Great teams draft and pay their stars, but the love affair with Ndamukong Suh only lasted four years in Detroit. A look at the Lions defensive ranking over those four years shows only last season as dominating. Even the man named Suh, a virtual lock for pro honors, was allowed to walk when Detroit soured on his untimely penalties. Miami caught a break landing Suh.

The hopes of keeping the flimsy gossamer thread binding the team together rests on Suh and his star counterpart on the offense, Ryan Tannehill. The young QB has shown great durability in the face of major adversity. The NFL’s most sacked QB over his career has yet to come up lame and continues to grow into the most difficult position in all of sports.

The question is, are these two ironmen enough to break the wicked spell that has left Miami bereft of playoff appearances?

It is always interesting to see the coaching merry-go-round spin in the NFL when the front office truly holds the keys to the franchise. Joe Philbin loses his pro bowl center and left tackle without adequate backups. He loses most of his secondary without adequate backup. Loses most of his linebackers, his star wideouts play possum and his starting running back was lost before the season even started.

Coach Philbin really sucks! He can’t get fourth stringers to beat Tom Brady, he can’t get a broke team to play the final two games! This guy has no personality he just stands there looking like a deer in the headlights… He is a deer in the headlights.

The coach of a team starting the season with high hopes only to have it disseminated by wicked glass shattered by men bashing heads at 40 MPH.

Is there a secret formula? Is the sun just too damn strong in Miami? Don Shula would never believe that, but Philbin must and somehow he continues to walk unfazed through the land mines leading up to the 2015 NFL season. Like every Miami fan, he dreads pre-season games as one player after another limps off the field.

The promise of redemption crumbled like an empty wine glass dashed in the fireplace.