The NFL schedule maker was not very kind to the Miami Dolphins in 2010. They had to do something they haven't done since 1988 - open with two road games to start the year. This year, the Dolphins were one of three teams (Baltimore and Arizona) that faced this challenge to kick off the year - with
All three teams won in week one. But only one came out of the second road game unscathed.
That's a hall of a challenge to open a season - especially when one of those two games is the home opener for a team that was just a couple of plays away from reaching the Super Bowl a year ago. And as we sit here on this Tuesday - the beginning of "Jets week" here in Miami - it's obviously acceptable to bask in the glory of the Dolphins' 2-0 start to the season.
After all, the Dolphins are on of only eight teams in the league to still have that zero in the loss column. Having accomplished that feat in two hostile road environments is even more impressive.
But everything hasn't been great, of course. The Dolphins have scored just 20 total points on offense in two games. Chad Henne has only completed 30 passes for under 300 yards total in these two games. And Adrian Peterson did just gash this Miami defense for 145 yards on the ground - though it deserves mentioning that he was unable to get that one final yard necessary for Minnesota to win.
No, I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer here by any means. Perhaps it even makes Miami's feat more impressive considering how the offense has struggled at times to move the ball. What I am doing, though, is pointing out how this Dolphins team could easily be sitting with the rest of the pack at 1-1...or worse. But most importantly, for all of us Dolphin fans who are shouting about the lack of respect this team has gotten, these next two games will really dictate just how successful the Dolphins have been in the first quarter of their 2010 season - and how much respect they will receive nationally.
In the grand scheme of things, it certainly doesn't matter if the media or other football fans respect your team. All that matters are those wins and losses. Respect is more of a byproduct than anything else. And as fans, it's always fun to have some respect from the media because it gives us all more information to consume about our team.
For example, if you watched any programming on ESPN or NFL Network today, you probably saw the highlights of the Dolphins/Vikings game - and then had to sit through minutes of Vikings (and Brett Favre) talk hoping to see some discussion on what the Dolphins have achieved so far in 2010. Ultimately, you were disappointed when the analysts basically brushed off the Dolphins despite their 2-0 start and current first place standing in the AFC East.
That's just life, folks. These networks are in the business of generating ratings. Teams with big-name stars are going to get the most attention, particularly early in the season. Unfortunately for Dolphin fans, this team doesn't have any big-name stars. Sure, Brandon Marshall is a star. But he's not a quarterback and he is yet to have that big break-out game as a Dolphin. Therefore, very little discussion on Brandon and the Dolphins...for now.
That can all change over these next two weeks. The Dolphins enter a crucial two-week period that could very well define their 2010 season.
Two home games. Two hated division rivals. Two nationally televised prime time games.
If the Dolphins want to some national respect, this is just the stage to accomplish that feat. Two wins and suddenly the Dolphins will be the talk of the NFL world - that much I promise. Two losses, however, and the Dolphins fall back to being an afterthought in the AFC - at least for right now.
That's how fleeting this great feeling all of us Dolphin fans have right now. In 13 days, we could go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
Such is life in the NFL.
So what's it going to be? Early season greatness? Or back to mediocrity?
Now more than ever, it's time for these Dolphins to "feed the wolf."