The Miami Dolphins' 2015 season has been the tale of two teams. The first Dolphins team featured a lackluster, ill-prepared franchise who struggled to win in Week 1, then was lambasted in Weeks 2 through 4. The club fired head coach Joe Philbin and installed tight ends coach Dan Campbell as the interim head coach after the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets in London. The Dolphins then used the bye week to get ready for their Week 6 contest against the Tennessee Titans, a game which debuted the second version of the Dolphins, an aggressive, fast-paced team ready to take it to the opponent, punch them in the mouth, then keep punching them throughout the entire game.
That second Dolphins team won two games in blowout fashion and climbed back to .500 on the season. Suddenly, things were looking up for Miami. At least until they ran into the buzz saw that is the New England Patriots this season. The Dolphins looked more like the Philbin Dolphins than the Campbell Dolphins. The Dolphins were never able to assert themselves, they made mistakes, and the Patriots made them pay.
The question now, with a 3-4 record on the year for Miami, is not what the Patriots' game means for the future of the Dolphins, but rather, what the upcoming game against the Buffalo Bills means for Miami. Going into Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots rarely lose, on a Thursday night, where they never lose, in a year when Tom Brady feels he has something to prove, the odds were stacked against Miami. They should have played better, but this game - no matter how much the media wanted to say this was the prove it game for Miami - was never the real measuring stick by which Miami should be tested. Instead, it should be this weekend, as they again get on the road, this time to face the Bills.
Every team is going to face adversity at some point during the season. Every team is going to sustain injuries - though not many will see it be a player as talented as, and as important as, defensive tackle Cameron Wake is for Miami. Every team is going to get blasted at some point this year. It is how the team reacts, how they get back up after the loss, how the dust themselves off, and how they get back to football that will determine if a team is a legitimate team in the 2015 season.
The Miami Dolphins are facing that test right now. They were beaten, and beaten badly. Now, how will they respond. When the next bell sounds, will they come out swinging, or will they wait for Buffalo to get in the first hit? Will they be the Philbin Dolphins, meek and ready to roll over, or the Campbell Dolphins, aggressive and ready to take it the Bills.
Miami lost to Buffalo 41-14 in Week 3 this year. A week from Sunday, Miami has a chance to prove they are not that same team. They are not the Joe Philbin Dolphins. They are not the team who was clearly outmatched against the Patriots.
Will the Dolphins respond to adversity, or will they shrink from it? We will find out in a week.The Miami Dolphins were dominated by the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. Will the team be able to bounce back after the loss?