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The Oncoming Storm

Sitting outside in Orlando as I write this: you can feel the pressure drop, the wind has just picked up, the sky is darkening. A storm is coming.

That is how the Miami Dolphins must feel. After a poor 1-3 start, after the team not living up to off-season hype and after the whirlwind of the last two weeks-it must feel like they are in the eye of the storm.

Dan Campbell is the oncoming storm. Storms do not truly destroy, they simply clear the decks so something new can grow.

Make no mistake something new is growing down in Miami.

The fans can feel it, the media can feel it. Most importantly every single player, coach and even the owner can feel it.

Owner you say? Yes. Did you see the look on Steve Ross’ face after Campbell’s first win. That was unadulterated joy…it has been a long time coming.

Campbell had an impressive introductory press conference. Even better he has followed through on everything he said he would do. Competition has a home again in south Florida. From Oklahoma drills to rugby scrums to the winner wears black…he has found a way to reach everyone from Ndamukong Suh and Ryan Tannehill to Bobby McCain.

The team is playing with their hair on fire. You believe the entire team will run through a wall for their head coach. It has shown on the field over the first two weeks.

Thursday night is the real test. The measuring stick. Blowing out the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans is one thing. Walking into Foxboro to challenge the defending Super Bowl champions and division leading New England Patriots is entirely something else.

Campbell himself calls Bill Belichik one of the greatest coach in the history of the game. Beating them will be no easy task but I believe this team is up to it.

If the Dolphins do pull the upset, well I have a job for owner Steve Ross.

If Dan Campbell leads this team to an incredible three game turnaround then I want Ross to step to the podium after the game Thursday night. Look out at the media and announce Dan Campbell as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for the 2016 season. He deserves it.

Campbell and his Miami Dolphins will step into Foxboro unafraid and they are bringing one hell of a storm with them.

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Fool’s Gold

We take a break from the regularly scheduled #PhilbinWatch to bring you this-Bwahahaha

This is no laughing matter…but sometimes to have to find the funny. Just to get through the day.

Miami fans are frustrated. The players are frustrated. The coaches damn well better be frustrated. This is not how the first quarter of the season was supposed to go.

It is not just the losses, it is the way the Dolphins are losing. Opposing quarterbacks and running backs are having career games against this defense, every single week. It is not just one team, one week. It is Every. Single. Week.

Ryan Tannehill is being slapped around like a red-headed stepchild. Lamar Miller might as well join the witness protection program for as often as we have seen him. The offensive line leaks like a sieve. Things have not gone well down in South Beach.

This is not the product we were sold during preseason.

In preseason the first team offense marched down the field, scoring at will. Everyone witnessed a fierce defense during those ‘practice’ games. How fierce? Matt Ryan, starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, looked like he wanted to retire after a quarter of having Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and company harass him. The starters looked fantastic. It was the depth that was a concern.

Fool’s Gold.

It looked like the real thing. It was not. This team has been much more representative of the struggling backups we saw than the impressive first team.

At the end of the day is that what this team really is?

Is it simply a collection of talented athletes, but not an actual team?

We do not want to see the fool’s gold any longer. Give us the fans, the players, the entire organization a team that lives up to the best of its abilities.

Let us see at least a glimpse of what we thought we saw before.

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Take a Breath.

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”-Chicken Little

That is the mantra of this young season. Many Miami Dolphins fans already want to thrown in the towel after only two, admittedly uneven games.

This is the same team everyone had high hopes for. Not just the fans. Not only the team and local media. Nationwide there were high expectations for the Dolphins this season.

Ryan Tannehill was going to take the next step. Ndamukong Suh was going to turn the defense into a primal force. The entire franchise was going return to past glories.

And now…

Was it all some sort of a fever dream?

Has everything fallen completely apart?

No it has not. If you believed a month ago that this team could compete with the best in the league then you should believe that now. There is simply not enough tape to say one way or the other. The Dolphins are not alone, in this young season few teams have shown enough to say what they are.

The problems are clear: a defense which gets pushed around in the first half, no running game and penalties, penalties and more penalties.

The penalties are important. The Dolphins have had over 100yds in penalties in each of the first two games. That is noteworthy. This was the third least penalized team last season. The Dolphins are not alone with the penalties. Last week there were 2659 penalty yards, an absolutely ridiculous amount. In Miami’s case penalties are erasing any good plays that come their way.

If the Dolphins can cut down on the penalties it may help get the rest of the team healthy. Getting off the field in third down is a great cure for any defense. While 2nd or 3rd and long are quite a challenge for creating a successful running game.

This team needs to take a breath and relax. Take care of what you can. You do not have to be perfect.

Just take a breath and take care of business.

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Miami Dolphins: Sometimes It Is Ugly

The first game is in the books.

One game. One win.

Just like everyone expected, right?

Actually no. Few expected the game to look like it did. Most expected domination by the Miami Dolphins, a blowout. No one believed the Washington Redskins had a chance.

That is why we play the games on a field, not just on paper. Fans often forget the other team gets paid too. The other players are among the best in the world. Nothing is promised.

There were struggles: offensively and defensively. Cut blocks and chop blocks frustrated the defensive line for much of the first half. That led to Washington controlling the ball for 38 minutes of the game. The Dolphins offense took time to get in a rhythm. Ryan Tannehill only had 57 plays, only 22 minutes to work with a new group of receivers in their first real action of the season.

Rust was inevitable.

Jarvis Landry showed that not everyone would struggle. Even without the punt return that would give Miami the lead Landry was a force. Every time he touched the ball he made the defense stop him, fighting for every yard. Without him there may have been a very different result.

A win is a win, even an ugly one. Fighting through adversity is a good thing. There will be tough games later this season. Learning to grind your way to victory on your worst day only helps to prepare the team for the best.

Take the Washington game for what it is…a lesson. Work on the mistakes. In a word-Be Better.

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Miami Dolphins Kickoff the 50th Season

Fifty years.
Five. Zero.
Half a century.

It is a long time. An achievement. A milestone. The Miami Dolphins celebrate their fiftieth year as an NFL franchise this season.

Christmas Day Game. The Undefeated Season. The Hook-and-Lateral. The Fake Spike. The Wildcat. So many great memories. Wonderful people took part in those memories: Shula, Langer, Csonka, Wakefield, Scott, Duhe, Marino, Clayton, Moore, Taylor, Taylor, Thomas and far too many more who deserve mention.

This season should not be about the past though. It is about the future. A bright future. This season will be about Tannehill, Suh, Landry and Wake.

This season should be about a quickly ascending 4th year quarterback hitting his stride. It should be about a ferocious defense being led by one Ndamukong Suh. This season should be about making that next step.

No this season should be about making a giant leap.

It all begins Sunday at 1pm as these Dolphins face the Washington Redskins.

Time to make new memories worthy of this franchise.

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Miami Dolphins: Preseason Postscript

Thursday night the Miami Dolphins face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the last preseason game of the 2015 season. After that the games truly count.

For the majority of the players on each team there is nothing more to prove. The last game is an open tryout for other teams and practice squads. It is one last chance for the last few players on the 53 to make their mark.

For the players we will actually see during the season the work is already done.

There were questions to be answered this preseason:

How well would a nearly entirely new receiving corps work with franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

What effect with Ndamukong Suh have on the Dolphins defense?

Will the offensive line be good enough(especially at guard) to protect Tannehill?

Each of these questions have been answered and then some.

The first team offense has run like clockwork. Moving down the field and scoring in each of the preseason games. Tannehill is looking more like a seasoned veteran than a young player entering his fourth season. While we have not seen much out of first round draft pick Devante Parker(recovering from foot surgery) between a resurgent Rishard Matthews, second year star Jarvis Landry, Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills the receiving corps looks as deep and talented as it has in years.

The offensive line has been a concern to say the least over the last few seasons. The last two season the Dolphins gave up 58 and 46 sacks respectively. That is simply too many hits on the quarterback to expect much prolonged success. During this preseason they have played without starting left tackle Brandon Albert and frankly they have not looked bad. The guards, a question for years, have held their own. Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and Jamil Douglas have competed over the two guard positions and the results are positive. Thomas and Douglas are the likely starters but nothing is set in stone. This is not to say that suddenly this is an all-pro line. Far from it. This is a competent line that should be good enough to reduce the sacks to a reasonable number.

Now we come to the man called Suh. Could he possibly live up to the massive contract he signed during the offseason? The early answer is yes. Against the Atlanta Falcons the defense, especially the front seven, abused quarterback Matt Ryan series after series to the point he looked relieved to take a seat. This line is fierce and rejuvenated. The best thing about Suh thus far is that he does not seem remotely satisfied in the success so far. That is what a leader does-he strives to be better tomorrow.

Beyond that depth is still lacking but that takes time. Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas look to be able to fill the role expected of injured Louis Delmas. UDFA rookie linebackers Zach Vigil and Mike Hull both look like diamonds in the rough, if only there is room on the roster for both players.

There are still minor questions to be answered. That will come with the final preseason game and the cut down to 53. Until then things look good.

In fact things look better than they have in years.

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Miami Dolphins Preseason: Week 1 Chicago Bears

Life is good. Football is back.

I know, I know it is only preseason. Still it is football. It is a slight peek at what we may see once the regular season arrives.

The first week is often a crap shoot. Sloppy play is not unusual. Teams get on the same page while also seeing the first live action against someone in another jersey. The final score is unimportant.

So what did we see when the Miami Dolphins met the Chicago Bears?

First Team Offense and Defense:

Ryan Tannehill and Ndamukong Suh both showed that they were worth every penny. Tannehill led a successful drive in his limited game action going 6 of 7 for 56 yards and the one touchdown the Dolphins would score. During Suh’s time on the field the defense was dominant against the Bears first team offense.

Offensive Line:

While some have worried the offensive line would fall to pieces during real-time game action they did not. Even Dallas Thomas(who may feel is the weak link) performed admirably. It was not perfect but it was enough to hold of signing Evan Mathis for now. The next few weeks will demonstrate just how good the line can be.

Rookie Linebackers

Second year linebackers Chris McCain and Jordan Tripp both left the game with injuries. Neither injury seemed significant with Tripp’s the more serious of the two. The silver lining was getting to see extended playing time from two of the rookie undrafted free agents: Mike Hull and Zach Vigil. Both players found themselves around the ball again and again. They showed enough that both players deserve a closer look which they may get in the upcoming weeks while McCain and Tripp heal from their injuries. More playing time could accelerate the learning process for these rookies making it easier to rely on them during the regular season.

One game in the books. Plenty to like, also plenty to learn from.

This week there are joint practices with the Carolina Panthers, followed by the 2nd preseason game.

Time to get back to work. Be better tomorrow than they were today.

 

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