One thing I never understood was how some of the NFL's top "media personalities" can put together "power rankings" and bold predictions in the spring and summer months - before training is even close to beginning. Yet every year, it seems as though some of the media's biggest names do just that. Of course, who is to stop them? They're never held accountable for their bad predictions or rankings - but love taking credit when they are right. There's no sense of accountability here - which allows these guys to create these rankings and other predictions without having to worry about being completely inaccurate.
After all - who would even remember?
Alright - with my disclaimer out of the way, let's get down to business. I've read through a few of these rankings and I've noticed a theme. In the words of the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, the Dolphins "can't get no respect; no respect at all."
The first kick in the crotch came a week ago when CBS Sports' Pete Prisco unveiled his early 2009 power rankings. Where did the Dolphins fall? He ranked Miami 26th. Yes - Prisco is saying that only 6 teams in the NFL are worse than the Miami Dolphins - 2008 AFC East Divsion Champions. And in Pete's eyes, he lists the Texans, Bengals, Packers, Bills, Seahawks, and Jets all well above the Dolphins.
Then on Monday, I came across the second and third kick in the crotch. The second kick comes courtesy of SI's Peter King - who ranks the Dolphins 17th in his first rankings of the 2009 offseason. That's 13 spots lower than the Bears, 6 spots lower than the Texans, 5 spots lower than the Packers, and 1 spot below the Jets.
King's main argument is Miami's tougher schedule. And while there's no doubt that Miami plays a far tougher schedule in '09 than they did in '08, that doesn't make the Dolphins any worse of a football team than the Packers or Jets. If you're ranking the teams on 2009 expectations, then you can certainly make a case against the Dolphins based on their strength of schedule. But King's power rankings are supposed to show "how 32 teams stack up right now" - at least, that's what King writes.
Apparently, if you're looking through Peter King's eyes, the Jets could go out on the field right now and beat the Dolphins - despite the fact that the Dolphins recently disposed of the Jets in the Meadowlands in week 17 of 2008, ending their season and propelling our Dolphins to the division crown.
The third kick in the crotch comes courtesy of PFT's Mike Florio - writing for The Sporting News (hat tip to LCFF for posting about this in a fanpost). Florio put together a list of six 2008 playoff teams who "might not make it back" in 2009. Guess who is number one on Florio's list? That's right - our beloved Dolphins.
Florio cites a tougher schedule, an "improved Patriots team" - I guess the Dolphins don't get credit for improving...only the Pats do - a "bigger target on their backs," and the liklihood of more injuries as the reasons why the Fins are ranked first on his list.
I guess this is what happens, though, when national football columnists/writers/bloggers try writing about individual teams. Florio actually wrote, "the '08 Dolphins also benefited from the absence of injuries." I guess losing your two starting guards and your leading receiver for the season don't count as injuries.
Listen - I'm not here to gripe and complain about what all of these writers think. After all, it doesn't really mean anything once the games begin. But I will say this - I love when the Dolphins fly under the radar. I love when they get no respect. There's nothing more fun than being the underdog...and succeeding. That's what made the 2008 season so special - perhaps the most enjoyable season in my lifetime.
And that's also why the 2009 season could be just as special.