Due to unforeseen circumstances involving my Internet connection last Sunday and Monday, I was unable to post a recap of the Dolphins' opening-week beating at the hands of the ever-so-hateable Houston Texans. In hindsight, Internet instability was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to take a few days to step back, clear my head and make some sense of why the Dolphins went from "Hey, they're playing pretty well and keeping the Texans in check" to "Hey, the Dolphins just surrendered three touchdowns at the end of the first half. Do you think my bathroom ceiling is sturdy enough to support a noose?" in the second quarter of that contest.
Well, here I am. And I feel a lot more positive about the 2012 Dolphins now than I did three days ago, when rookie quarterback (i.e., savior) Ryan Tannehill threw three rapid-fire INTs (leaving me to feel as if I had just watched a boatload of seals get clubbed); when our receiver corps basically ran routes while simultaneously waiving a white flag; when our secondary looked as underwhelming as ever.Here's the thing: a loss like the one the Dolphins experienced last Sunday is a hell of a lot easier to accept when you believe in the team's coaching staff, and I really do believe in Joe Philbin and Co. For someone who is still in the midst of flushing away the remnants of Tony Sparano's (and yes, Jeff Ireland's) roster, I think Philbin's going about all of this the right way. His role as head coach isn't simply to come in and teach 53 players to commit to Green Bay's style of play; it's to evaluate the Dolphins current roster and weed out the players who don't fit what Philbin and Mike Sherman want to do on offense, and what Kevin Coyle wants to do on defense. Addition by subtraction, if you will. Philbin and Ireland also need to find and acquire the talent that fits what Joe and Sherman want to do on offense, and what Coyle wants to do on defense.
Not only that, but Philbin also needs to solidify a 53-man roster that completely buys into his brand of football (much easier said than done, otherwise you wouldn't see the mass exodus of NFL head coaches that takes place the day after Week 17 each year).
My point is this: Rome wasn't built in a day, and Philbin's ideal roster won't be built in a day, either. Don't forget that the Packers, with Aaron Rodgers, fielded a godawful 2008 campaign (despite the fact that Green Bay was fifth in points per game and eighth in total offense). The batted balls for Tannehill don't bother me, either. Philbin was a part of the coaching staff that took a 6'2" Rodgers and told him to actually lower his release point, so I see no reason why Philbin, Sherman and quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor can't work with Tannehill to help him better understand and attack the passing lanes he'll see each and every week in the NFL. That should be child's play for a 6'4" quarterback.
I also believe that help will be on the way in the form of the 2013 NFL Draft class. I posted a 2013 college wideout primer last week, and I highly encourage you guys to check it out and take note of some of the guns who will be available next spring. It's a staggering list, and the best part is that many of the superstar wideouts would fit seamlessly into Philbin's brand of WCO.
Cornerback and safety will also be two very loaded positions in the next draft, so look for the Dolphins to tap that fountain once or twice. Miami's workmanlike secondary is devoid of any real splash players (with the possible exception of Sean Smith), so if Miami's on the clock next April and has an opportunity to draft North Carolina State's David Amerson, Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes or LSU's Eric Reid, they need to pull the f'n trigger. No exceptions.
All in all, things could be a lot better in Dolphinsland, but they could be much, much worse, too. My advice is to sit back, trust in Philbin, trust in Tannehill, take the good with the bad and see if this roster can continue to jell throughout this season.
Baby steps, everyone. Baby steps.