“There is no substitute for winning.”
That’s a sports cliche’/axiom that has been around for recent decades, and it’s not only succinct, but true.
And in the NFL, everyone is looking for the “angle” or the “edge” that, if they are winning-keeps them there, and if they aren’t winning-helps them start to get there.
Now, in the present day in NFL with constant player movement due to free agency, teams look to help themselves, immediately and while some may look strictly at production of the player, another compelling aspect is “does this player come from a winning team and therefore, winning culture?”
This is especially vital if you are trying to turn your team’s fortunes around, as the Dolphins will be this season. After a surprise Wildcard playoff berth with a 10 win 2016, Miami took steps backwards for a lot of reasons to 6-10 a year ago.
And clearly, they have set out to be better by adding talented free agents, but as Armando Salguero pointed out in the Miami Herald, there’s another intriguing trend to the guys the Fins added. The post season:
ICYMI…The Dolphins add this ingredient to offseason acquisitions, but will it result in wins?https://t.co/jr3SngGEpZ
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 28, 2018
Yes, between the likes of RB Frank Gore, OL Josh Sitton, WR Danny Amendola, and even new back up QB Brock Osweiler, the Dolphins have added players this March with a total of 49 games of postseason experience, and who have collectively played in many Superbowls.
While it wasn’t the only priority, coach Adam Gase and the front office obviously, are looking at this as a benefit: you change to a winning attitude by bringing in guys who’ve been part of or led it.
The Dolphins AFC East nemisis, the Patriots, are obviously the NFL standard on a lot of levels. However, in particular, it’s how they keep winning every year, including into January, that everyone is chasing.
One trend that New England started and many others picked up on, was they wanted to bring in players that had been captains on their squad either in college or even going by to high school. Now, it wasn’t the only criteria and may not have been the most important, but it was still a strategy.
Bring in players that other players believe in and want to follow.
You look through the Patriots recent rosters and bios over the past decade and you will see players that were captains at one or both of those levels. In clutch situations or in trials and tough times, those players most of the time shine.
The Dolphins cross state rival the Bucs have struggled with bringing a winning culture to Tampa Bay the last decade. Since firing Jon Gruden in 2008, the Bucs have had six 10-loss seasons, including a year ago (5-11) and haven’t made the playoffs, once. They have fired three head coaches since Gruden, too.
Coach Dirk Koetter, entering his third season, has been challenged with and talked openly about, the Buccaneers locker room and culture needing to have a huge overhaul.
The Bucs drafted former FSU National Championship winning QB Jameis Winston in 2015. This off season they have signed free agent defensive linemen Vinny Curry and Beau Allen from the Superbowl champion Eagles, and traded for fellow DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who has a ring with the Giants.
So, they are making the attempt to switch the mindset and emphasizing winners breeding winners, there too.
Back to the Dolphins.
It cannot hurt to have these new players who have been in the postseason recently, come in and set the tone.
It certainly beats the alternative of having signed several players that have never been part of winning at the NFL level.
Still, you gotta put in the work and go get it done on Sundays.
Otherwise, your successful past elsewhere will only be that. Your past
Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay
Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.
It just looks and feels that way.
Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.
Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.
Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.
The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.
Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.
Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.
It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.
Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.
The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year they got off to a 3 – 0 start.
So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.
Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.
No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.
Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field
Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)
When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Here’s what to watch:
Dolphins defensive coordinator Burke under scrutiny
It has been a tough few weeks for the Dolphins all the way around, but specifically on the defensive side of the ball, the struggles are mounting. And when you throw in a player pouting and essentially pulling a mutiny on the sidelines last Sunday, it’s not good for the defensive coordinator.
That’s what happened a week ago when Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones refused to go back in the game on two occasions during the second half of the Dolphins close 13 – 6 win over the Jets. It’s been a big topic in South Florida for the last few days, and it obviously has defensive coordinator Matt Burke having to answer for what’s going on in the defense of meeting rooms, practices, etc.
Dolphins Live: Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke meets with the media. https://t.co/2145Fq3uaU
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2018
As the press continued to poke at him about the Jones situation, you could tell that Burke is over it, as is coach Adam Gase, and they want to move on for this week. However, Jones didn’t make that any easier, when he basically refused to apologize for not wanting to play.
And, moving past it may also be easier said than done, when the opponent is All-Pro quarterback and former League MVP Aaron Rodgers at his house, Lambeau Field.
Yes, the Dolphins have some pass rushers, and that would include second-year defensive end and former number 1 pick Charles Harris returning to practice this week after a calf injury, and he may be able to play. Veteran Cam Wake came alive pressuring Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold repeatedly, and registering a couple of sacks.
However, the defensive plays have been few and far between, as the Dolphins have lost four of the last five games.
That brings us back to Burke, who was elevated after coaching the linebackers in 2016, when Vance Joseph left Miami to become Denver’s head coach. After spending his entire pro career as a linebackers coach, this is his first opportunity to be the guy in charge of the defense.
So, he and Gase can get aggravated with the questioning of what we’re seeing, but the bottom line is: if the Dolphins defense doesn’t continue to step it up, like they did last week, there is going to be much more scrutiny of him.
The oddsmakers have the Dolphins as double-digit underdogs to Rodgers and the Pack.
Now, let’s see if Burke’s unit will rally together, play solidly and give Miami a chance to win Sunday.
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