Leadership and resiliency of Dolphins to be put to the test

It became clear this past offseason that the Dolphins had an obvious leadership issue in 2009. The team's captains were injured or insubordinate (I'm looking at you, Joey Porter), leaving the players in that locker room with little leadership to turn to when the season stood on the brink. This was clearly a large part of the problem late in the season as the Dolphins collapsed and failed to reach the postseason when they essentially had destiny in their own hands.

The quick fix to this problem was to jettison the guys who were creating some of the issues while allowing new voices to take charge inside the locker room - whether it was a tenured Dolphin (Yeremiah Bell, for example) or a newcomer (Karlos Dansby). The long-term answer was to draft guys who were proven leaders on their college teams - as the Dolphins did in April when they put a premium on selecting players were captains.

It's time to find out if any of this makes a difference.

The Dolphins currently sit at a crossroads of their 2010 season. They are only six games into the season - but they now see themselves facing a defining moment.

Will this team prove that they are as tough and as resilient as we all think they are and use Sunday's gut-wrenching, stomach-turning, heart-breaking loss as a spring board to success? Will they come together and rally around each other to prove to everyone - and to themselves - that they are better than just a .500 team?

Or will they use Sunday's loss as a crutch and limp home with their tail between their legs?

Now that we've all had 24 hours to digest what we witnessed on Sunday, it's time to move on. Sure, it still hurts because the Dolphins should have caught that elusive lucky break - one they never seem to catch - and be 4-2 right now.

But that didn't happen. And the fact of the matter is the Dolphins were unable to capitalize on the opportunities they did have, which put themselves in a position where one bad call could - and did - cost this team the game.

Like Tony Sparano said after the game, that play "was a big play in the game. But it shouldn't have come down to that. We had plenty of opportunities to win the football game and we didn't."

During Monday's press conference, Sparano reiterated this sentiment:

"One of the things that we talk a lot about here is that we don't make excuses. There's some things that are in your control and some things that are not in your control. Right now this situation obviously was not in our control."

"We can't make excuses for those things. I won't settle for that."

This, of course, is where leadership comes in. Sparano can drill this idea into his players' heads over and over. But it's up to the leaders inside that locker room to get their teammates to truly buy into Sparano's rhetoric.

Do any of us know how this team is going to react? Of course not.

What we can expect, though, is to learn a lot about this football team over the next several weeks.

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