Alright, folks, we've got a lot to go over this week, so let's get right to it. There has been a lot of soul searching and wondering what went wrong for this franchise over the past three weeks after the team lost three consecutive prime-time games in front of a national television audience, two of them in excruciatingly embarrassing fashion. Unfortunately, the double standard among fans, the press and even the Dolphins staff itself, between just what constitutes a crisis, depending upon whether that crisis involves the defense or the offense has been on full display in recent weeks.
Even today, in the Fantasy Football version of the NFL the league is comfortably ensconced in, the old adage, 'Defense wins championships and the offense sells tickets' still holds true. When the Dolphins routinely finished near the bottom of the league in defense several times over the past few years, there was nowhere near the amount of outrage and hand-wringing that we've seen this season, when the offense has occupied a similar place in the league's cellar. Word out of much of South Florida, namely the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel, is that the Dolphins will be looking to completely revamp and rebuild the entire offense, starting with the offensive line, this coming offseason. This should come as no surprise, considering the unquestioned pedigree of Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. How dare the team not provide the blue-chip players he needs to run his offensive scheme?
Before Miami, for the fifth time in the last seven years, inevitably pours the vast majority of its resources into the offense once again, I'd like cite you two examples of longtime losing NFL franchises that have turned their fortunes around this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Rams. Jacksonville's five starting offensive linemen are comprised of one former second-round pick, two third rounders, and two undrafted free agents, while the Rams' OL consists of three-second rounders, a third rounder, and a sixth rounder. Nary a number one pick to be found among any of the ten starters, between the two teams.
Meanwhile, both long-struggling franchises, particularly Jacksonville, sold out, putting a dominating defense on the field every Sunday, and both teams lead their respective divisions and will almost certainly qualify for postseason play. Alright, so the Dolphins need a couple of guards, at least one of whom can also play center? Fair enough, but Miami is seemingly the only NFL team that cannot find guys who can play for them on the offensive line in the later rounds of the draft; other teams are able to plug and play interior linemen on an annual basis who were late round picks or free agents.
If we're honest with ourselves, which is no easy feat these days, we have to admit to ourselves that, based on the respective ages of the two units (Miami has, far and away one of the oldest defenses in the NFL), it is the Dolphins' defense, not its offense that is the reason Miami hasn't won in so long. Well, that, and not having a franchise quarterback. When we point out that winning organizations like the Steelers, Patriots, and Ravens draft defense in the first round almost every year, the response is that they have Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Joe Flacco at quarterback, which is, if you think about it, a tacit admission that the Dolphins don't have a franchise quarterback, but we'll leave that argument for another day. There are at least three things that don't work very often in the NFL: drafting receivers high, avoiding defensive players in the early rounds and fake reverses. The Dolphins have been guilty of at least two of those mistakes in recent years, and they're paying for it now. Unfortunately, it looks like they're about to compound their previous mistakes by going back and making more of the same mistakes again.
The other thing I want to talk about this week is the state of the Phinsider board and its members. Perhaps when we look back on the 2017 NFL season, Dolphin fans will call it the 'Year of Eric Clapton'; the season started out 'Born Under A Bad Sign' and in October, 'Cocaine' became the appropriate track. There may be 'Tears In Heaven' at the season's conclusion, but I doubt there will be many tears shed by Dolphin fans when 2017 mercifully comes to a close. One of the more fascinating aspects of a site like this is the way it invariably becomes split into two (or more, in some cases) groups, or 'tribes' if you will. This is emblematic of our society as a whole, in recent years. If you think about it, we seemingly become more and more polarized with each passing year, whether it be in terms of politics, income or sadly, even race. Here at The Phinsider, try though we might -- and I believe we're trying very hard, and largely succeeding -- to remain unified, during some of the more challenging times, we can't help but gravitate into subgroups.
This phenomenon has played out in recent weeks here on the board, with varying results. As has been the case in other years, the Phinsider is currently comprised of two basic subgroups: the 'Stay-the-course-everything's-going-to-be-fine' crowd, which we'll call Group A, and the 'We're-tired-of-this-crap-and-we-want-change' crowd, which we'll call Group B. Group B is derisively referred to by Group A as 'whiners and complainers' while Group A is scorned as 'Kool-Aid drinkers and excuse makers' by Group B. Each side is, of course, incredulous that the other could possibly occupy such a ridiculous position. Just this week, one commenter from the 'A' group admonished a member of the 'B' group not to be so bitter because 'It will do bad things to your insides'. Are you kidding? I love this stuff! We've got plenty of guys here who can analyze the X's and O's. My game is pointing out inconsistency, ridiculousness and bad personnel moves. I'm going to use every bit of ammunition that's given to me, without remorse or regret, and calling me a whiner isn't going to move me a fraction of an inch. Back in the 90's, during my musician years, a guy in my band and myself worked at a telemarketing boiler room. We were in charge of Customer Service, which was nothing more than a catchphrase for dealing with irate customers who wanted their money back, but were never going to get it. Because most of the really bad calls that no one else wanted to take ended up coming to me, because no one else would take them, I had about four different names and voices, so the same people who called every day couldn't pin me down as the guy they just spoke to the day before. I had three different accents, from various regions of the nation and the world, as well as my regular speaking voice, with a different name to go with each voice. When they asked to speak to a supervisor, I simply put them on hold and came back as a different guy. After a time, we realized that the calls were so entertaining that we needed to start recording some of the more contentious ones. When my friends heard some of those calls, they asked me how on earth I could take having all these people screaming at me day after day. My response was that I thought it was awesome, and I was getting paid for it.
What I'm getting at here is that this should remain fun for all of us, no matter how many games the Dolphins lose or which of the two groups we belong to, and I've been encouraged by what I've seen this week, because much of the board apparently hasn't lost its sense of humor. Many of the more negative things that happen at other teams' sites, and used to take place here at the Phinsider, don't happen nearly as much as they used to. From a psychological standpoint, we must always remember that the harder we try to shoot down another person's argument, the more likely it is that what that person is saying is making us more uncomfortable than we would like to admit because there is more truth to it than we're comfortable admitting. Thankfully, a tactic which I refer to as 'Lawyering' isn't used here on this site nearly as much as it is on other teams' sites. A classic method of trying to discredit another person's position is to nitpick the Hell out them on the little things because we know they're absolutely right on the big ones. If a man accused of a serious crime is acquitted in court because the prosecution failed to properly conduct themselves, good for him; he might not have been guilty. Trying, in effect, to have another person's argument thrown out on a technicality ("He did NOT have 7 sacks, he only had 6 1/2 !") is a pretty good indication that, deep down, we know that guy is right, we don't want to admit it. Just as one example, CT receives more grief and more pushback for being right than most other folks ever will for being wrong -- simply because he's CT, and everyone wants to challenge him to a fight, to make a name for themselves. More recently, two newer guys, Mass Dolphan and Theodore Smith, have dared to show up on the board and challenge the status quo. Theo Smith, in particular, has been outstanding, in my humble opinion, and I hope he sticks around. But even if you belong to one group and I belong to the other, you're still my friend, because we both have the common goal of wanting to see the Dolphins win. Coluccim has been critical of me in the past, but guess what? His opinion is every bit as valuable as my own. He had a great comment this week, regarding the offensive line. A shout out to 'The Looch' -- best wishes to you and yours this holiday season, sir.
Though it may sound corny, I've never been more proud to be part of any organization than I am of The Phinsider, from Kevin and James to Sutton, CT, KIH, Darrell, Fly, Chris Early, Dolphinfan4Lyfe -- I think Theo Smith and DFan4Lyfe should have a tomato fight, Dwanathan, Fuhbawl, Scrappy, Justin Hier Fins Report, Steve DeWald, PhinsTifosi (may the 'Fos be with you), Daytona Dolfan, Hollywood Dolfan, Kwfinfan, Clint Clearwater, Ben Morgan, Matthew Cannata, Josh Houtz, RMolnar1010, HotsauceSteve -- Oh, before I forget, Sand In Shoes had two of the best comments I've seen in a while this week: he quoted former Bucs coach John McKay, "We didn't block, but we made up for it by not tackling" and the classic "How do you feel about the execution of your team?" "I'm in favor of it", dfs83 (anyone who likes the Beastie Boys can't be all bad) Uncle Finster and so many more I'm sure I missed. A big thank you to each and every one of you . . . we may not have the best NFL team in the State of Florida, but we don't have the worst one, either, and we're going to prove that this weekend.