In an effort to keep away from notable free agents and the upcoming draft, let’s take a final look back at Miami’s past season. After finishing 7-9 (which, for many, was where they expected the Dolphins to be), there were many good, bad, and… well, ugly things to take out of the season.
Let’s start with the good. If Ronnie Brown’s season-ending injury never occurred, we could put up many different arguments for this spot. Chad Henne, Jake Long, Lousaka Polite, and even Dan Carpenter would be names I would think many would associate with having a good season. But for me, this spot belongs to Ricky Williams.
For most running backs, there is a "thirty year old wall" that most hit—and when I mean hit, they totally deteriorate. Just look at LaDainian Tomlinson, for example. He only piled up 730 yards—the lowest of his career, at no other than the age of thirty. Ricky Williams, 32, posted 1,121 yards with 11 touchdowns, numbers that clearly don’t represent his age. If that’s not convincing enough—think to yourself: What would the Dolphins be like if Ricky Williams played like his age? Nothing against Chad Henne, but Ricky Williams took a big load off young Henne’s shoulders by being one of the best running backs of the league this past season.
What more could we have asked for out of this guy? If you expected Ricky to be this good for Miami in 2009, then you had me beat. Especially after Pro Bowler Ronnie Brown went down, Miami was still able to produce a 1,000 yarder in its back up. Besides a fumble issue, Ricky really stepped it up and showed that even at thirty two years of age, he still has a fight in him.
The bad. Miami’s had several bad cases come their way lately. A few years ago it was Ernest Wilford, who Miami took a try on after taking him out of Jacksonville. And last year, we took a try on Gibril Wilson formerly of the Oakland Raiders. The only time we actually saw Gibril Wilson was on highlight reels on Sportscenter, where a receiver catches a bomb throw and we see the back of Gibril’s jersey ten yards behind. Yup, that was the part of the "best safety tandem" that didn’t work out. I don’t want to hear excuses for Wilson about his switch to Free Safety. Football is football—the objective on defense is all the same. I found myself only a few times this season applauding Gibril Wilson. He did muster 93 tackles and one sack, but no interceptions, and not much after that. For $27.5 million, this guy never got into a rhythm all season. Clearly, a bad investment thus far by Miami. Even googling Wilson-- his images are of him getting beat, like in the picture above!
The ugly—and boy, was it ugly. Although Marshawn Lynch is one beastly ("beast mode"?) dude, the real ugliness came when Miami went to Ralph Wilson Stadium and played their rivals in Buffalo. This was a crucial game for Miami, at the time. Miami was 5-6 prior to the game, and were looking to get over their 0-3 start finally. A road win at Buffalo seemed to be a tough game, yet very winnable. Miami was the better team. At the start, the ugliness began when Ricky Williams drove Miami to its goal line—only to throw it away for an interception.
Ryan Fitzpatrick would later run for a long 31 yard touchdown run—which is inexcusable for quarterback except a Michael Vick type player (which Fitzpatrick is not!). Fitzpatrick ended the day with 70 yards rushing (1 TD) and 246 yards through the air (96 of those yards and a touchdown going to Terrell Owens). Miami got thrashed 14-31 at the end of the day that was supposed to help them out. Chad Henne threw three interceptions, although two were in the final minutes of the game and was just out of desperation. Miami went on to beat the Patriots and the Jaguars in the following weeks—which really made this loss hurt. Instead of being 8-6, Miami was 7-7—which might not seem like it matters, but in this league and in the tight AFC East division, every game is HUGE.
Thanks for reading this post, which I hope will become a regular thing around here from me (game posts, off season highlights, draft day winners/ losers, etc…). And congratulations to all inductees into the Phinsider Hall of Fame!