Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert met with the media on Monday and took the opportunity to talk about making the playoffs, something the team had not accomplished since 2008, the turn around from a 1-4 start, and the idea of the team resting players in Week 17 to get ready for the postseason tournament.
“We kind of realized that we’ve got to play up to par every week,” Branden said of the Dolphins turning the corner from their 1-4 start to the 10-5 team with a playoff berth clinched a week before the season ends. “There are teams out there that are more experienced than us. I think [the Baltimore Ravens game] was a wakeup call for all of us. I think since then, the adversity we’ve been playing with all season, I think we’ve been doing a good job. Everybody’s been doing a good job stepping up. You’ve got to give the coaching staff and the organization (credit), bringing in guys that can step up when guys are down. We’ve got to tip our hats to the guys that are stepping in there and playing and making plays.”
Miami has won nine of their last 10 games, including a season sweep of both the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. Miami can go 5-1 in the division if they are able to win this upcoming weekend against the New England Patriots. “I think it would be good for our team, especially going into the playoffs,” Albert explained of what a win over the Patriots would mean. “But, it’s more important that we just worry about this game, one game at a time and one play at a time.”
The Dolphins may be focusing on the Patriots this weekend, but it does not change the relief the players had to feel when they were officially locked into the postseason on Sunday night. Following their Saturday win over the Bills, Miami needed the Kansas City Chiefs, for whom Albert played from 2008 to 2013, to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday to let Miami clinch a Wildcard position. Albert did not miss the fact that is former team helped his current team get into the postseason. “My old team gave me a gift last night. I’m happy about it, but we’ve still got a big game this week. The most important game right now is the game we are worrying about, and that’s against the Patriots.”
The Dolphins could move up to the fifth seed if the team were to win against the Patriots and the Chiefs were lose on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. There is some thought, however, that Miami could rest some of their starters this weekend in preparation for the Wildcard weekend. Albert mentioned his thoughts on getting a week of rest, “That’s not my call. Whatever Coach [Adam Gase] has me doing, I’m going to be out there prepared like I’m going to play this Sunday and go full out.”
If the Dolphins finish with the sixth seed in the AFC Playoffs, they will travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on either Saturday, January 7 or Sunday, January 8. If they move into the fifth-seeded position, they would play at the Houston Texans on one of those days.