Two games and two wins. I’m not, uh. I don’t know what to do with my hands.
It feels strange to go into a game with confidence
If you’re reading this, you’re a Dolphins fan and that means you belong to an elite group of misfits who live for punishment and disappointment. Such is our lot in life. Or at least it has been for the better part of a century.
Yet, somehow, before the game kicked off between the Fins and The Belichick Bunch, I actually thought Miami was going to win.
Not like in years past where I thought Miami had a chance to win if they just managed to control the clock for 55 minutes or force eight turnovers or get a forfeit on a technicality related to uniform regulations: I actually thought they would just be better at football.
That feeling is borderline surreal. Of course, they made sure I didn’t get too comfy, what with their bad snaps and dropped passes and missed kicks to show me what for. Even with said poppycock, however, they beat the *Patriots on the road.
I know it’s only two games, but ooh child.
The offense had better balance from the start
A fair share of fans (starting with your beloved author) suggested that the offense could stand for some run plays to go along with their monstrous passing attack as the season progressed. Well, Mike McDaniel (friend of the program) took that sage advice to heart right away, doling out 22 carries to his running backs and 3 rushes to wide receiver Erik Ezukanma to go with Tua’s 30 pass attempts. Raheem Mostert made the most of his touches from a statistical vantage point, finishing with 18 carries for 121 yds and 2 TDs.
Though I must say, on his 6 total touches (3 rushes and 3 receptions), seemingly constant bubble guy Salvon Ahmed looked every bit as good as Mostert to my eyes. I know they don’t have comparable straight away speed, but Ahmed just manages to excel when given the chance. I don’t have anything profound to say about it, I just love to see it.
Now after just two games, Miami has shown the ability to devise a successful game plan on the ground to go with their aerial assault. That bodes extremely well for the future.
Vic Fangio mixed things up early and often
The offense wasn’t the only side of the ball listening to outside recommendations directly from fans and from absolutely no other source. Vic Fangio (famed fan-listener and friend of the program) modified the defensive strategy to add more blitzes and up the pressure on opposing quarterback Macaroni and Jones to the tune of 4 sacks.
Part of the pass rush’s success came from yet another guy who loves hearing it from fans: Bradley Chubb (does not care for the program). It may still not justify his megalithic contract yet, but notching 7 tks, 2 tfls, and 1 sack is a performance trending in the right direction (even if sometimes he looked a bit like a snail fighting its way through the remnants of an overturned molasses truck).
The much maligned run defense from Week 1 stepped up as well. They held New England to 88 yards rushing, keeping Ezekiel Elliott an afterthought in a belly shirt.
But the biggest standout was everyone’s favorite Owen Hart cosplayer Andrew Van Ginkel. Marek wrote everything that needs to be said about AVG in his MVP article. AVG going HAM can only mean GG, no re.
One complaint (since they seem to be doing the trick so far) is with the defense using Eli Apple on the outside and Kader Kohou in the nickel. Apple has looked overmatched and had his fair share of penalties, along with some phantom ones, while Kohou is one of the defense’s brightest young players. Since I know you’re reading this Vic, maybe see if playing musical CBs helps that out.
Is the offensive line good?
I get it. It doesn’t make sense to say that I think I think something and then that something is a question. That’s how unacclimated I am to the possibility that the offensive line isn’t a liability.
Just the mere glimmer that they could not be devastating to the team’s success turns me into this guy.
Yet, in spite of my preconditioning, the line is playing well. They’ve only given up a single sack over the first two games and that’s without Terron Armstead.
Historically, the instant any Fins’ lineman goes down, for even a single snap, the line becomes inconsolable and melts into the ground like a gaggle of squonks. But this time, they’re straight killin’ it. Having offensive line depth is an area that no Dolphins team in my memory has gotten right. It’s such a huge component to late season success that I just can’t even let myself imagine it.
But it’s real. At least so far. And keeping that success going will continue to build the team’s confidence along with the tiny little flame of hope burning in the otherwise cold, hollow cave of my heart.
Miami with momentum is going to be dangerous
If the Dolphins can continue to build on these first two wins, I think we’re all going to have some reckoning to do. Already, they’ve proven they can beat opponents with an all-out air attack, a rough and tumble ground game, win a nail biter with a last second defensive stand, and shut down both the opponent’s run and pass offense with varying game plans.
That’s everything, right? That’s undefeated on the way to the Superbowl.
Except, I think there’s still (at least) one thing missing: they need to learn to win big.
All of the mediocrity over the decades has poured into the souls of fans, but it may have also leaked a little into the fabric of the franchise. It takes a little bit of time to erase that stigma and, while I think Tua and Mike McD are as good a pair to do it as any, the next step in that progression is to really dominate the games they should dominate.
The fact that those games are even on the schedule is just so amazing, but next week is one of them. The Denver Broncos are 0-2 and they are bad. I know; they’ve only lost their first two games by a combined 3 points, but I just don’t believe in them. The Bills are due up after the Broncos and Miami teams of the past would be looking ahead (likely in fear) and manage to lose a game that had no business even being close.
Miami needs to handle Denver in their Hard Rock home opener. They need to get used to winning easily when the opportunity is there. If this team can get to that point, we won’t have to worry if they can win or think they should win, but we might just be able to have the confidence that they will.
Have you been suitably impressed by the Fins so far? Still have lingering doubts? Still know that the truth is out there? Search for it in the comments below.