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

happened.”

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

Nolan.

”These first two games are a great start for our defense,”

Dansby said. ”These young guys are playing hard and are

relentless.”

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

again.”

The Dolphins have totaled only 29 points, and with the next

three games against 2009 playoff teams, more firepower is

needed.

”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

playoffs.