Do you put in maximum effort towards something if you don't agree with the method of how it's done? That is the question currently facing Miami Dolphins players.
Reports of a very disgruntled locker room are coming out of Miami. Losing will do that to you. But is the root of the anger the losing, or how the games are being lost? Are players frustrated in their own performances or with the people who orchestrate the players?
Before diving into this, let's flash back to 2011.
The Dolphins started the season on a very disappointing seven-game losing streak. Quarterback Chad Henne was injured in the fourth game of the season and the backup QB, Matt Moore, took over the lead of a below-average offense. Fans were calling for the Dolphins to tank the season to land Andrew Luck. Talks were that Head Coach Tony Sparano was on his way out Miami.
But then something amazing happened.
Dolphin players, knowing the Sparano could be fired after the next loss, put on a show of heart and effort each and every Sunday. After the 0-7 start and a "Suck for Luck" campaign, the Dolphins finished Sparano's tenure 4-2. With no hopes of postseason dreams being fulfilled, Dolphins players laid it all on the line each Sunday to win for their leader.
Sparano was finally let go after a bad loss to the Eagles and an embarrassing debacle where Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tried to lure Jim Harbaugh to Miami while Sparano was still in power.
In what seemed to be a script straight out of a Hollywood basement, the players fought for their head coach till the very end. With no hopes of playoff contention, no honorary trophies and no moral victories being handed out, the Dolphins put in every last drop of effort for their head coach.
It was an awesome display that reminded all --who weren't begging the Dolphins to Suck for Luck-- just how heart-warming sports can be.
Now, back to the present.
The Dolphins are dealing with a similar scenario right now. The Dolphins are 7-6 with three games left in the season. Playoff hopes are slim but still alive. If current head coach Joe Philbin's team fails to make the playoffs, it could mean the end of his tenure in Miami.
Will these players rally around Philbin? Will these Dolphins play with the ultimate determination and passion and leave everything between the white lines in order to have a shot at making the playoffs and saving their coaches jobs?
This Sunday against the AFC East juggernaut, the New England Patriots, will tell us everything we need to know about Joe Philbin. If Philbin's team comes out flat and unmotivated while clinging to playoff contention then it shows that the players don't care for, or believe in Philbin.
Football is a team game. It takes the execution of 11 to be successful on any given play. But if those 11 players don't believe in the one who directs them, don't believe in the aptitude, ability and vision of the puppetmaster, then that team will fold.
If you question the leader's vision, you will be weary when following him. You will not put in maximum effort for him. In football, that cannot happen. That is why this Sunday is so important for Joe Philbin.
If Philbin fields a flat, unmotivated, low-effort team on Sunday against the Patriots it will be the end of his time in Miami.