CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 17: Jonathan Nelson #37 of the Carolina Panthers watches as Charles Clay #42 of the Miami Dolphins reaches for a ball during their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on August 17, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I know. I get it. It's been a decade since the Miami Dolphins have been a factor in the NFL. This team has not been relevant since we all hated it every time Jay Fiedler took the field. I get it. I do. I am taking my son to see his first NFL game this year, and he did not exist last time the Dolphins won a playoff game. I was only halfway through college when the Dolphins beat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime of the 2000 Wildcard round of the playoffs.
Now, I'm half way to retirement.
So, I get it. I really do.
Every time the Dolphins struggle, all of immediately revert to the same place we have all been for the past ten, twelve, fourteen years. And, it's hard to keep us from immediately see the doom-and-gloom that is another NFL season. With the Dolphins having lost their last two games, all of us are ready to start hitting the panic button. We're ready to start declaring draft picks busts already. The fire general manager Jeff Ireland group is starting to be vocal again. Head coach Joe Philbin is already being declared a horrible hire.
But, all of us seem to be forgetting one important point: it's still the preseason.
Sure. Every time the Dolphins hit the field, I want to see them compete. I want to know they have a chance at the win. I want to see a team that resembles....well, a team.
And, in the past two games, it hasn't been that way. This team has looked lost. This team has looked confused. This team has looked lackluster.
But, it's still just the preseason.
Last year, the Carolina Panthers were being chastised universally for the horrible pick they had made, selecting quarterback Cam Newton in the 2011 Draft. Newton was horrible. He looked like the NFL game was well above his ability, and fans, and the media, lambasted the Panthers for it.
Then the regular season came around. Newton took the opening snap, and 4,051 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 706 rushing yards, and another 14 rushing touchdowns later, the Panthers season ended.
Things can - and do - turn around when it comes to the regular season.
The Dolphins tore through the preseason last year, wining three games with a combine score of 65-36. The dropped the third game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-13. The, after an 0-7 start, and a 6-10 final record, the Dolphins were cleaning house and starting over.
Enter head coach Joe Philbin. After overseeing the Green Bay Packers for five seasons, with the team finishing in the top 10 in points scored and total yards every year he was there, Philbin joins the Dolphins for his first head coaching job. Now, after just two preseason games, we are ready to declare him a bust.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks poised to claim the starting quarterback position, despite everyone believing he would not be ready for the NFL. The Dolphins, specifically Ireland, were fried for selecting the quarterback at number eight overall. Conventional wisdom said you don't take a player with only 19 career college starts at quarterback that high.
Nevermind that Cam Newton only started 14 games at Auburn. Mark Sanchez started 13 games in college. But, yeah, Tannehill only having 19 starts is a problem.
Second round draft pick Jonathan Martin has played two games at right tackle since high school. And, by "played two games," I mean played a quarter in the first one and a half in the second. So, really, Martin has three quarters of experience at right tackle since high school, and already he's a bust. The Dolphins did wrong picking Martin in the second round, when he was graded as a first round pick, and most draft "experts" easily had him picked in the opening round, most looking at him as a possible target for Miami at the eighth pick.
The Dolphins have a ton of work to do still. No one will debate that, including Philbin, who said after the game on Friday night, "Offensively and defensively we're not playing well enough to win. That's very evident."
No one is saying the Dolphins are ready to start playing regular seasons games today. And, they don't have to be ready to play regular season games today.
Looking back at the game, it really does not appear that the team was trying to win the game until Pat Devlin came into the game. Before that, the coaches looked like the were using the game as a chance to evaluate individual players, rather than full personnel groupings.
In the end, every player, every coach, and every fan wants that "W" for the record. But a preseason win is just about as useful to the Dolphins as an "Undefeated Season" banner is to the Patriots. It's great to brag about, but everyone knows it didn't really happen.
Everyone, myself included, needs to remember, as we all worry over the offensive line, the secondary, the pass rush, the linebackers, the running game, and the wide receivers, it really is still the preseason.
The Dolphins need work, but it's not the end of the world. Don't press the panic button just yet
Give it at least another couple of weeks.