When the season started, if you were a fan that was skeptical of the Dolphins heading into the bye week consider yourself a believer in the doldrums of the Dolphins seasons. Some fans said easily a 1-4 start after being leery of the offensive line's issues in the pre-season and facing top tier quarterbacks, Luck, Ryan, and Flacco. Some fans said 2-3 would happen, and some said 0-5 could happen.
This start by the Dolphins winning three straight to begin the season and then dropping their first two is highly characteristic of Dolphins teams of the past. In fact, it's not much of a surprise to the knowledgable fan. In 2010 the Dolphins went 2-0 and then lost the winning touch as the season wore on. In 2002, the Dolphins headed into Minnesota to win the division and then were forced to play a down Tom Brady and the Patriots who had nothing to play for after winning the Super Bowl. The Dolphins missed the playoffs. In 2003, the Dolphins were eliminated early in December after having an awesome November and started the year 5-1.
However, most fans today, after two losses, are critical of all aspects of the Dolphins play and fail to see that the Dolphins are 3-2 and still in position to chase the playoffs. That there, is a testament to the hard work put into the weight room in the offseason, the long sessions with newcomers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson off site, and the planning of Joe Philbin. If you look at it from a positive standpoint, the Dolphins have to win 7 more games to clinch a playoff spot.
There is just one problem with all of this, the Dolphins have lost two winnable games. First, versus New Orleans in front of the gumbo chomping fans in the Super Dome where quarterback Ryan Tannehill himself committed 4 turnovers, one a costly and critical fumble, and showcased a lack of chemistry with a rather disinterested or distracted Mike Wallace. In addition, the play-calling in the game upstairs by offensive coordinator Mike Sherman were suspect and head scratchers for sure. Including abandoning the running game early, when it was clearly working and then on third and short on the Dolphins opening drive, not calling a QB sneak, but rather a stretch play left where Daniel Thomas, the slowest of the Dolphins backs, was blown up in the backfield.
Second, yesterday's loss to the defending champion Baltimore Ravens demonstrated that the Dolphins allowed the Ravens to take advantage of their weaknesses: a shaky offensive line, a lack of chemistry with the Mike Wallace, and five critical drops from his receivers who desperately needed to extend drives and put the Dolphins in better position to tie or win the game. Since the Dolphins showed a valiant effort to come back and tie the game after some key defensive plays by Dion Jordan re-directing a Flacco pass to hungry Reshad Jones for a touchdown, the Dolphins proved that they can overcome mistakes through out the game and provide opportunities for their second year QB to win when it counts. Even though the loss could have been avoidable with better and consistent play, the Dolphins had a major chance to win or tie the game.
So, despite everything, the Dolphins are 3-2 heading into a much needed bye week. Time for the rest of the coaching staff to re-group, time for the coaches to talk about what went wrong in the first 5 games and make the necessary corrections and bring that to the players next week, on Monday. Bring a new plan with a renewed commitment to players who will be mostly healthy, fresh, and ready for the next phase of the season. Sure, there is so much to second-guess and sure the coaching at the end of yesterday's game has to improve the rest of the season, but it's a long season and this reprieve for the Dolphins couldn't come at a better time.