The Miami Dolphins don’t get the credit for being the dumpster fire they have been this century.
On Sunday, the Dolphins were booed for large portions of their 30-24 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami, which was playing its home opener after dropping affairs in Seattle and New England, earned all the angst from a fan base that is historically both indifferent and non-existent.
The volume coming from the stands was long overdue and should have been directed at the suites, where general manager Chris Grier and lieutenant Mike Tannenbaum sit. Both of them have begun to join the ranks of Jeff Ireland and Dennis Hickey, who have done more harm than good to this franchise over the past 15 years.
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It seems the Dolphins are largely ignored when the conversations at bars pop up about the laughingstocks in sports. Folks somehow forget that Miami has not won a playoff game since beating Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts back in 2000. The Dolphins have only reached the playoffs once since 2001, being blown out by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008.
Since the end of Dan Marino’s career in 1999, Miami has gone a quarterback carousel from hell. In the ensuing 18 seasons, the Dolphins have started Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill.
If you made it through that list and are still with us, congratulations. All told, the Dolphins have started 17 quarterbacks and have employed nine head coaches since the start of the new millennium. The Browns, who have become the biggest joke in pro football, have also had nine. Both franchises have the same amount of playoff appearances since 2001 as well.
So why does Miami get the perpetual hall pass? Because the Dolphins don’t matter, even in their own city. The stadium is rarely sold out and the division has been owned by the New England Patriots for so long, it seems like a waste of time trying to compete. Cleveland gets made fun of because the punchlines are easy, and because the fans still go. The Browns are a story because they matter, at least in one city. The Dolphins? They are a distraction for a few weeks each autumn before receding into oblivion.
In actuality, Miami is a bigger joke than Cleveland. While the Browns are rancid in every facet, the Dolphins have less excuse to be so pitiful. They have the beauty and vivaciousness of South Beach to draw top coaches and free agents. There is a built-in advantage to a team playing in such a setting. Yet, thanks to incompetent ownership and laughable personnel decisions, Miami ends up with one losing season after the next.
This offseason was a case study in why the Dolphins blow. Miami has been signing free agents for years instead of building through the draft, like every successful NFL team does. Armed with a top-10 pick, the Dolphins decided to move back in the draft to trade for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, taking on more than $50 million in owed salary to Maxwell and a perennially injured linebacker in Alonso. Not finished there, Grier signed Mario Williams, who put some atrocious tape together in 2015 while quitting on the Buffalo Bills.
The result? More mediocre play (at best) from the Dolphins. Come winter, the critics will quiet down. Why? Because like every other year, nobody will care about a team that loses in front of a half-empty stadium.
Top 10 cornerbacks in the NFL
1. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals 2. Richard Sheman, Seahawks3. Marcus Peters, Chiefs 4. Chris Harris Jr., Broncos 5. Desmond Trufant, Falcons 6. Jason Verrett, Chargers 7. Josh Norman, Redskins 8. Trumaine Johnson, Rams 9. Joe Haden, Browns 10. Darius Slay, Lions
“The relationships I had here and the respect I had for this organization were important to me,” Hoyer said. “That night (in April) was my welcome to Chicago and the first thing really was knowing my role. Here, Jay is the starter. So my role was to be the best backup quarterback in the league and understand each week how I could help this team win.”
Chicago is not a good team, but at least they have a backup quarterback who knows his role. The Bears are going to have a top-10 pick, perhaps even top-five, next year in the NFL draft. While there are ample holes to be filled, perhaps Hoyer can be a capable backup for years and a guy who can show the next, young quarterback how to be a pro.
Hoyer wasn’t good enough to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, a team that seems to be right in the thick of the NFC East. Still, he’s a valuable player in his current role, and there is something to be said for that.
CBS displayed an amazing stat on Sunday’s telecast. The New York Jets entered Sunday 0-62 in the franchise’s history when trailing by at least 14 points at halftime in a road game. Make it 0-63.
Info learned this week
1. Broncos are legit Super Bowl contender
Denver doesn’t look like a great team. The defense is, sure, but the offense always looks slow and disjointed unless the ball is in Emmanuel Sanders’ hands. Still, this group needs to be respected. The Broncos simply find a way to win, all the time.
In Week 1, they overcame three turnovers against the Carolina Panthers. Last Sunday, they scored two defensive touchdowns to beat the Indianapolis Colts. This week? Beating a Cincinnati Bengals team that took horrid penalties and muffed a punt. People can call it lucky, but at some point, it becomes the opportunistic norm.
2. Aaron Rodgers is just fine
After playing some middling football through the first two weeks, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers came alive. The Packers torched the Detroit Lions, putting up 31 first-half points while Rodgers threw for four touchdowns.
Green Bay will need to keep playing well to keep up in the NFC North. The Packers look much better than they did the first two weeks, but will need to keep it up to play with the Minnesota Vikings.
3. Jaguars, and Gus Bradley, are done
The Baltimore Ravens are surprising everyone with a 3-0 record, but that’s another story for another day. Right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars and their rancid start to the season is the headline. Everybody believed this team was at least much-improved, but instead, they are as bad as ever.
Jacksonville lost 17-16 on a last-minute field goal at home to Baltimore, dropping its record to 0-3 and home mark to 0-2. It’s almost impossible to make the playoffs from this position. If Jacksonville falls short, it’s over for Bradley.
4. Redskins save season vs. Giants
It didn’t look good for the Washington Redskins early at MetLife Stadium, but a huge rally put them over the top in a 29-27 win. Kirk Cousins was solid, the defense did just enough, and Washington now find itself alive if not all that well, in the NFC East.
As for the Giants, this is a rough loss. It’s at home, for starters, and against an inferior team. New York had its chances, but a pair of turnovers scuttled them. The Giants could have buried a divisional foe, and now they’ve opened the door.
5. Carson Wentz is the real deal
After beating the Chicago Bears and Browns, nobody was quite sure what to make of both Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles. After Sunday, it seems much more obvious. Wentz torched the Steelers, going for more than 300 yards in the upset win.
At this juncture, the Eagles have to be the favorite in the NFC East. Wentz still has a long way to go in his maturation, but that is more a commentary on bring a rookie rather than how he has looks. If the kid can keep playing like this, Philadelphia got a great one.
The New England defense has evolved from that bend but don’t break unit from a few years ago and now looks like one of those feared groups of the early 2000s, when the defense was winning games for the Patriots. Can this unit do the same if the offense struggles at all against quality opponents without Dion Lewis, nagging injuries for Gronk and a mess of an offensive line held together by Dante Scarnecchia?
MV: I think it can. Look, I wouldn’t expect a shutout every week, but the Houston Texans are a good team. They will likely win the AFC South. That said, turnovers certainly helped New England win by such a margin.
The Patriots could have a top-10 defense, and that alone should win the AFC East. That said, I think the offense will have to get healthy to win the Super Bowl, even if Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all-time.
History lesson of the week
The biggest comeback in regular-season history happened back in 1980 at Candlestick park, when the San Francisco 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints after falling behind 34-7. In the postseason, that distinction goes to the Buffalo Bills, who overcame a 32-point deficit in the 1992 AFC Wild Card game. On that day, the Houston Oilers led 35-3 in the third quarter, only to lose 41-38 in overtime.
What is going on with some of the preseason favorites? The Arizona Cardinals were the trendy pick to get to their second Super bowl in franchise history, but they have been uneven at best. Arizona is sitting at 1-2 and a game behind the Seattle Seahawks, who have had plenty of issues of their own. The Cardinals looked to have cured their ills in a 40-7 stomping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but then a plastering in Buffalo makes one wonder.
As for Seattle, it is 2-1 but the offense has been hard-pressed to block any capable defensive line. The Seahawks have to figure out how to protect Russell Wilson, or it’s going to bea long season for the 12th Man.
Then there are the Oakland Raiders, who allowed more than 500 yards to both the Saints and Falcons. Yes, the Raiders beat the Titans on Sunday and are 2-1, but the play remained spotty, this time with the offense. It’s not time to panic or anything like that, but it does merit watching.
On the positive side, the Minnesota vikings are the best example of heart and perseverance that the NFL has to offer in 2016. Minnesota is without a legion of stars, and yet sit 3-0 and all alone atop the NFC North. The Panthers only allowed 211 total yards, but the Vikings took advantage of three Cam Newton interceptions and great spacial teams to beat Carolina.