I know I am not Matty and that I am not nearly as eloquent as he is. But, please bear with me. I have something I would like to say, and this is the best way I have to put it. I would say this is a journey into my mind, but I think that might be stealing something from RZ.
First and foremost, great job by this team. We took the AFC Champions from a year ago into the 4th quarter with a back and forth game. They are the AFC Champions for a reason. Great job all around to our guys and we will get better from this loss.
Also, congratulations to the Patriots. They took the loss we gave them in Week 3, learned from it, and came out and shoved it down our throat. Well played, well coached, and well done.
Some of my observations, concerns, and thoughts:
What a grab by Ricky Williams. Remember this is a running back making that catch in the endzone. I don't care what his reasons for playing football are. I don't care that he talks about what he wants to do when football is over. As long as he is on this team, this team is better. He brings things to the Dolphins that no one else does. Together, Ricky and Ronnie are scary. Now we just need to get them going.
Ted Ginn, Jr. is going to be a star. There's no way to deny it. I'm still surprised that he was drafted at #9 overall. And, I think we reached in taking him there. But, since a WR in the NFL isn't supposed to have a breakout year until Year 3, maybe he isn't the "project" we all thought he was. He's going to develop into a top tier WR, and I can't wait to see him reach that potential.
Yes, he dropped a couple of catches that should have been made. But, I can't fault him for that. The coaches can and will. As a fan, I love the fact that he was trying to win the game. He knows what he wants to do with the ball. He knows what he CAN do with the ball. I believe on those drops he was thinking about how to turn on the jets and get up field. As a result, he dropped the ball. The potential of Ted Ginn, Jr. is huge. Wait until he puts that potential to it's full use. He may become one of the all time great Dolphins.
The defense lost this game for us. I have no doubt in my mind about this. The defense HAS to slow down the opponent's offense. The Dolphins are not an offensive machine...yet. Give it a few more years and the offense may develop into that. But, right now, the defense has to help out. But, this is the same offense that destroyed EVERYONE last year. They went 16 and 0 for a reason last year. I know Tom Brady is gone, and their running backs are all falling like dominoes, but it's still the New England Patriots. I don't know if any defense could have slowed them down yesterday.
Think about it though. When was the last time it was the DEFENSE that was the weak point on this team? That tells you something about the development that is happening in South Florida.
There's another aspect of this game I have not heard mentioned much so far. The Special Teams play. They were GOOD yesterday. Not great - especially when Ginn decided to run all the way back to the two yard line for no apparent reason. But it was good. The coverage team seemed to have figured something out over the last week. Ginn almost broke a couple of returns. It was much, much better than the last few weeks. If we are going to criticize, then we must also give credit. Well done guys. Keep it up and get even better!
I really hope Jake Long and Greg Camarillo are fine. I know both seemed to be OK after the game, with Long apparently just having rolled his ankle (and he did come back into the game), and Rillo said he would be okay, even though he was on crutches and scheduled to get an MRI Monday. These two have become such huge parts of the offense that their loss would serious hurt any chances to contend for the AFC East or Wild Cards.
The Dolphins got out-coached Sunday. One of, if not the, best coaches in the NFL out-coached the Dolphins. Why are we as fans surprised by this? Meeting a team for the second time, there is nothing for us to hide anymore. We can't suddenly spring the Wildcat on the Patriots every time they are on the schedule. It doesn't work like that. But, I do think the coaches needed to make some better adjustments. Why did Jason Allen and Andre Goodman have to cover Randy Moss on an island all game? I do not care who was covering him, why was there no safety help? Someone needs to fix this.
And, where was the R&R Express? Where was Patrick Cobbs? I know they threw a lot yesterday (41 attempts by Pennington), but why abandon the run? The deficit was 3-7 points most of the game. You have to still try to run the ball. Only 19 carries for 62 yards and TD (by Pennington) is not enough. These guys all thrive on carries. Limiting them to 10 for Ronnie, 6 for Ricky, and 2 for Cobbs is not going to get the job done.
Bess was a monster yesterday. Every time you looked up, there was Devone Bess making another grab. The rookie caught 5 balls for 87 yards, 1 yard less than Ginn on the same number of grabs, and 1 fewer catch for 12 more yards than Camarillo. What a great day for him.
Finally, before we get to the main thing that I wanted to express, a comment about the Matt Light/Channing Crowder incident. That was completely a cheap moment by Light. Pulling Crowder's hair and punching him in the head, especially while you are safely wearing your helmet. Come on! Looking at the replay, maybe Crowder did deserve a foul and ejection because he did run back into and push Light, but Light's actions before and after Crowder ran back to him were unprofessional and unacceptable. I think both players are going to get suspensions out of it, but I think Light's has to be much, MUCH worse. I am guessing 2 games for Crowder (even though I don't think his actions are worthy of 2...should just be 1) and a 4 game suspension for Light. There's no way the NFL will stand for anything like that.
OK, now for the perspective that the headline suggests...
This is a 1-15 team playing 6-5 football right now. Think about it. At the end of the year last year, and the start of this year, what did you honestly think this team would accomplish? I thought a 4-5 win year was possible, maybe push on to 6. I was hoping we could find out way to 8-8, but highly doubtful of that. I thought 8-8 was two years away, with playoff at least three years. I was OK with that. I had faith in Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano. After years of patch work, must win now, coaching, we were finally rebuilding.
What did you think after Week 2? Remember that? Arizona crushed the Dolphins 39-10 in a game where we were 100% the same team as last year. A new coaching staff, a veteran QB, a 50% turn over of the roster. No Jason Taylor. No Zach Thomas. The biggest name on the team was the bust of a free agent Joey Porter. Remember?
Then came New England. Everything changed that day in Foxboro. Everything. Suddenly we were winners. We handed the AFC Champions a humiliating loss. Two weeks later, we did the same to the Chargers. Back to back wins against the two AFC Championship game participants. People started to take notice of the Dolphins.
But, when did this become a GREAT team? When did they become a contender? This year, with all of the injuries, maybe they could contend. But, I would rather they continue to develop and improve than throw it all away for a chance at the playoffs one year.
When did the team move into the "expectations" level? Suddenly we as fans are disappointed and bash the team when they don't beat a very good New England team? Even as they stayed within 3-7 points most of the game? There's something wrong with that.
Don't get me wrong. I will be right there with each and every one of you rooting for them and hoping and praying that somehow, January football is in the cards for this team. But, if that does not happen, I will never bash this team. I might criticize something that was bad - a play, player, or unit that was bad - but the team is so much better than any of us have a right to expect.
Cinderella is in Miami this year. 1-15 to 6-5 is unbelievable. I will be there every minute to see how long this Ball can last. But, if the clock does strike midnight, just remember that the Ball was worth it.
It's just a matter of time until the Prince finds us with the glass slipper and we move into the league's elite.
Don't give up on YOUR Miami Dolphins now. It's just getting good!