What is success for the 2013 Miami Dolphins?

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have spent a ton of money on upgrading the roster for the 2013 season. But, what would make this a successful season for the Dolphins?

Last night, Twitter had an interesting conversation about the 2013 version of the Miami Dolphins. It started with Robi's(@Robi2184) tweet:

Matt Infante (@theMattyI) then replied:

Which then spun people into trying to define the success of the Miami Dolphins in 2013. Do they have to be in the playoffs? Is double digit wins the measuring stick? What makes the Dolphins a success this year?

To be fair, Infante actually misunderstood the initial point Robi was making. He was not saying success this season should be measured by last year's team. He was saying that this team's status in training camp should be compared to last year's. He feels that the reports coming out of camp seem to put the Dolphins in a tailspin, and the fans in a panic, but that the team is much further along than last year. He points out that last season, the Dolphins were dealing with a quarterback battle, Brian Hartline not practicing due to injury, and had no one to rush the passer aside from Cameron Wake.

Infante and Robi continued the discussion, with Robi explaining his point, but it did not change where the conversation eventually went. What is success for the Dolphins in 2013?

How will you define success this season?

I think a lot of people are right with this question, and they all differ a little. Success to me is probably a 9-7 season and fighting for a playoff berth. I won't say double digit wins, because there are so many new faces on the team, it's going to take them a little while to get it together.

Think of it this way. How did the Miami Heat look early with the big three in their first season? Why did Albert Pujols struggle in his first season with the Angels last year? Or Josh Hamilton with them this year? It's a chemistry thing. Yes, the Heat made the Championship that first year, but they struggled early, in a season with 82 games, giving them time to work it out. In a 16 game season, developing chemistry does not have time to struggle early and work out the kinks. Having the extra preseason game is an important part of the Dolphins' development this year, but there will still be learning curves early this year.

And, I won't say the team has to make the Playoffs, because that's not just dependent on the team. If the AFC North decides to get hot, with the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals all ripping off wins throughout the season, both Wildcard slots could go to them.

There are a lot of teams that should be in contention for the Playoffs this year. There are teams that the Dolphins will not play this year that should be fighting for those postseason slots. How can you hold against the Dolphins something they cannot control? That's the issue I have with measuring the Dolphins by making the Playoffs.

But, they don't have any excuse for not being in contention. Even if the chemistry takes until after the Week 6 bye, the Dolphins should be sitting in the 1-4 or 2-3 range, with plenty of time remaining to fix the record. However, given that last year, 9-7 did not make the Playoffs, it's going to be a difficult climb.

In 2011, the 9-7 Tennessee Titans missed the playoffs while the 9-7 Bengals made it with the final Wildcard slot (and the 8-8 Denver Broncos won the AFC West). If the Dolphins come out of 2013 two games over .500, but do not make the Playoffs because the Bengals, or Indianapolis Colts, or San Diego Chargers, or Pittsburgh Steelers, win the Wildcard slot, is that a failure for the Dolphins?

Maybe that's my problem. I cannot define 2013 as a failure if the Dolphins are 9-7 and miss the playoffs to a 9-7 or 10-6 team. That's not a failure in my eyes. If something is not a success, it has to be a failure, right?

Would I be disappointed that the team missed the Playoffs? Of course. But, I feel like If the Dolphins look good, but cannot make the Playoffs, that's not a failure. The 10-6 Chicago Bears did not make the Playoffs last year. Disappointing for their fans, yes. A failure of a season? I don't see it that way.

I absolutely agree with Infante's sentiment. It's time to raise the bar on our expectations (which I am sure CT will disagree with in about 10 seconds...), but I am having trouble putting that bar on Playoffs or bust. If the Dolphins are not in contention because of something they do, then absolutely. If they blow multiple games they should have won (like two losses from missed field goals late in the game), then I can see arguing they should have made it to the postseason. But, if they do everything they can to make the Playoffs, only to miss out on tie breakers, or by two teams with one more win (10-6, 11-5 range), then I can't fault Miami.

I guess I am saying that success, for me, must be a winning season and a Playoff berth on the line in Week 17. I cannot say the team must make the Playoffs, because there are things outside their control that makes a difference. But, that cannot be the excuse for why they are not in contention.

This team is not meant to be mediocre. This team is meant to win. And win now.

But, what is success?

More Dolphins Coverage:

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