2-0 record something new for Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins have gone through four coaches and 13
quarterbacks since their last 2-0 start.
That was back in 2002, when a team built on defense and ball
control harbored playoff aspirations. The situation’s similar now,
with consecutive road victories stamping Miami as a potential
contender in the AFC East.
”Nobody really gave us a chance to be sitting where we are
now,” running back Ronnie Brown said Monday. ”We’ve got to keep
grinding, but I like our chances, and everybody on the team is
believing in what we’re doing.”
Unbeaten status this late in September is a big change for the
Dolphins, who started 0-2 each of the past four years. The 2-0
record with Miami is a new experience for every player but one –
running back Ricky Williams, the lone remaining link to 2002.
”It’s exciting,” Williams said. ”As a young team we’re
gaining a lot of confidence, and it makes it much easier to buy
into what the coach is saying when you’re winning.”
What coach Tony Sparano says is that his Dolphins are a work in
progress, and it’s yet to be determined whether they’re ready for
prime time. They’ll find out Sunday night against the archrival New
York Jets (1-1), who are coming off a win over New England.
Miami’s two victories have been impressive partly because of
where they took place. First the Dolphins won at Buffalo, where
they had lost five games in a row. On Sunday they beat the
Minnesota Vikings, who went 8-0 at home last year.
The last time Miami started a season with consecutive road wins
was in 1977.
”That’s way before me,” said linebacker Cameron Wake, who
wasn’t even alive then. ”Every day since March, we were working
toward starting fast. I know the last few years it hasn’t
Wake is one of seven new starters on a swarming defense that has
been the primary catalyst in Miami’s success. In the 14-10 win at
Minnesota, the Dolphins had three sacks and four takeaways, and
Brett Favre endured his worst day with the Vikings.
A collective effort started with the secondary. Cornerback
Vontae Davis had an interception at the 1-yard line, broke up two
other passes and made six tackles. Cornerback Jason Allen was even
better with two interceptions, one at the 2, three passes broken up
and 11 tackles.
Linebacker Karlos Dansby made nine tackles, including a stop on
fourth and goal at the 1 with less than 3 minutes to go. Wake had 1
1/2 sacks and forced a Favre fumble recovered for a touchdown by
rookie Koa Misi, one of five first- or second-year pros seeing
significant playing time under new defensive coordinator Mike
”These first two games are a great start for our defense,”
Dansby said. ”These young guys are playing hard and are
Minnesota’s lone touchdown drive covered only 1 yard after a
fumble. Despite that score, the Dolphins have allowed two teams
only 20 points while totaling six sacks, and opposing quarterbacks
have a rating of 58.3.
”We still don’t know how good our defense could be,” Davis
said. ”We just try to get better and better.”
On offense, there’s definitely room for improvement. Despite the
addition of Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins are
averaging only 135 yards passing per game, and Chad Henne has
thrown for just one score.
The ground game has been better, but running backs Ronnie Brown
and Ricky Williams earned demerits when each fumbled deep in Miami
territory against the Vikings.
”You thank God when you can fumble and still come out with a
win, specially in crucial situations like we did,” Williams said.
”We’re going to work on it, and it’s not going to happen
The Dolphins have totaled only 29 points, and with the next
three games against 2009 playoff teams, more firepower is
”I’m concerned,” Sparano said. ”I want to score more points
than that, no question about it, and I think we have to. I have
great confidence this group will continue to get better. I just
don’t have a crystal ball. They have to understand the urgency.
We’ve got to get over the hump, and I think we will.”
If there’s any temptation to be satisfied with a 2-0 start, the
Dolphins might want to note that their 2002 team failed to make the