I have been a fan of the Miami Dolphins for as long as I can remember. What I can't remember is the last time they looked so good. In a way, it's kind of sad. I have been so jaded by a franchise that has underachieved and disappointed since my early childhood, that I almost can't believe that today's 37-0 statement victory was real. How could the Miami Dolphins shut down a quarter back like Philip Rivers? How could the Miami Dolphins have a quarter back lead the offense to 37 points? It's hard to fathom. But as I sit here, on this fading Sunday evening, the memory is fresh; this team had a coming out party today and we were all invited.
When Miami picked Ryan Tannehill 8th overall in the NFL draft three years ago, I think every Dolphins fan dreamed of a day like this. A big time game where Tannehill is clearly the best player on the field, leading the team to victory. Tannehill has had his moments. I have said it before (right on this blog actually) that the problem with Tannehill isn't his talent, but his consistency. Well going back to the Raiders game in London, Tannehill has not only been consistent, but he has been pretty great. As a fan, I don't want to get too excited because I know what has happened in the past (as recently as weeks 16 & 17 last year), but its hard to watch what Tannehill is doing and not get that butterfly-excitement-y feeling in your aqua and orange core.
Tannehill is only half the story, though.The Dolphins defense has put the rest of the league on notice. Do not take them lightly. Both the pass rush and the secondary are finally clicking on all cylinders and are beginning to compliment one another. Think about this the Dolphins allowed 33,29 and 34 points in their first three weeks of the season. Since then, they have allowed 14, 24(to Aaron Rodgers) 14, 13 and 0 points. If your not so good at math, that averages out to 13 points a game over the last three weeks. Don't forget in that stretch they played three high powered offences, in the Packers, Bears and Chargers! That is incredible. I want to say it's unsustainable, but then I think about how well the individual parts are performing and I begin to think otherwise. Cameron Wake has been dominant week in and week out. Brent Grimes is playing at the top of his game right now. Reshad Jones is, as he put it, playing like one of the best safeties in the league. Combine that with the solid contributions from players like Earl Mitchell, Louis Delmas, Cortland Finnegan and Olivier Vernon and you could see a way for the Dolphins to have continued success on defense. Its an enticing prospect.
At the end of the day a 37-0 win over a playoff caliber team is worth no more than a somewhat disappointing win over the Jags. It's just one more win in the W column. However, this win does help illuminate a path to the playoffs. The Dolphins sit at 5 wins with a tie breaker over the Chargers. With the way the AFC is shaping up this year, it looks like 10 wins is going to be the magic number to get into the post-season. The Dolphins, in their last 9 games will have three games against sub .500 opponents the Jets(x2) and the Vikings. Wins in those three games gets the Phins to 8 wins, meaning they would only need 2 wins against the likes of Lions, Bills, Broncos, Ravens and Patriots. It won't be easy, but that win today definitely made the road seem a lot more possible and that is worth a lot.
I'd love to talk more football with you on TWITTER!
P.S. I know I have been hard on Philbin, but my thoughts and prayers are with his family. It was great to watch the team rally around him today.
P.S.S. Lost in the bliss of this win is the cold reality that at some point this year Sturgis' kicking struggles are going to cost this team big at some point. I am glad it wasn't today.