Monday, December 17, 2018

The Dolphins

I saw a stat yesterday that the Vikings win over the Dolphins was their first such win since 2002.  Funny thing is I remember that 2002 loss to the Vikings very well.

They were 9-5 and going to Minnesota who was 4-10 but playing better.   Still it was a game the Dolphins needed to win and should have won but they did not losing 20-17.  With 6:12 left in the game the Dolphins kicked a field goal to tie the game up at 17.  The Vikings then took possession of the ball and ate up all but :22 to kick the go ahead field goal.

That would setup the Dolphins the next week for their game at New England where they would lose in overtime 27-24 and fail to make the playoffs.

I never liked Jimmy Johnson or Dave Wannstedt but during their tenure the Dolphins record was 78-59 and they made the playoffs 5 times in those 9 years.  Over the next 13 years they would go 92-116 and make the playoffs 2 times.

I wonder sometimes why I never could embrace Johnson or Wannstedt and I think it has to do with the fact that I never felt like the Dolphins really had a good team.  There was always tension with Marino and Johnson and so it never felt like the team was going to win anything.  Then Johnson and Marino left and they got Wannstedt and Fiedler, and though the team went 11-5 two years running they never felt like a good team.  It kind of played out that way too.

Here are their playoff appearances during those 9 years.

1997 knocked out in the wild card game by New England 17-3
1998 beat the Bills in the wild card game 24-17, then lost to the Broncos 38-3
1999 beat the Seahawks 20-17 in the wild card game, then lost to the Jaguars 62-7
2000   beat the Colts in overtime 23-17, then lost to the Raiders 27-0  (Colts game was great)
2001   lost to the Ravens 20-3 in the wild card game.

They never had a bye and went 3-5.  They were outscored 215-83 in those 8 games.

Still if you told me now that I could have a team that would never get a bye, never make it past the divisional round of the playoffs, but would be in the playoffs 5 out of 9 seasons I would say sign me up.

If I were going to write a book about the Dolphins I would go back and focus on the 1986-1989 seasons and try and understand why those teams were so poor.  From 1982 to 1985 the Dolphins went to 2 Super  Bowls and one Conference Championship and then nothing for 4 seasons.   In 1986 the Dolphins scored 430 points, the most in football.  They also gave up 405 points, the most in the AFC.  Was it all really that simple.  I remember it being that simple but was it?  What kind of a quarterback was Marino?  Did he make them great or was he part of the problem.

In 1986 Dan Marino threw 44 touchdown passes.  He also threw 23 interceptions.  During three of those four down years he would throw over 20 interceptions.  My recollection is that he was being forced to constantly try and score points because the defense could do nothing, but maybe the defense was struggling so much because he was turning the ball over at such a high rate.

Anyhow looking back now on those years they seem like such wasted years for the Dolphins.  You had this amazing talent at the peak of his powers and you couldn't win.  Why couldn't they build a defense?  Why couldn't they build a running game?

This of course brings us to 2018 and the Dolphins have just upset the Patriots and are going to Minnesota for a must win game at 7-6.  According to Football Outsiders their playoff chances dropped by 15.6% and now they only have a 4% chance after the loss to the Vikings.

The Dolphins close hosting the Jaguars and at the Bills, two games I believe they should win.  Even if they don't make the playoffs I would be so happy if they finish 9-7 and all in on Adam Gase.

1 comment:

  1. You know, of course, what else happened during that 2002 Vikings game? Literally while the game was going on? My wife and I started dating is what happened. Best, most important thing that ever happened to me. Now isn't that strange?