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Can the Miami Dolphins Be Saved? The Movie ‘Lean on Me’ Comes to Mind

The Dolphins Can Use a Lesson from Morgan Freeman’s Iconic Role as 'Crazy Joe'

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Can the Miami Dolphins Be Saved? The Movie ‘Lean on Me’ Comes to Mind
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Miami Dolphins training facility.

COMMENTARY | I don't suggest using a baseball bat, but after the Miami Dolphins' 22-19 loss to the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, heads should roll.

The Dolphins are entangled in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin NFL bullying scandal and it's growing stranger by the minute. Under the circumstances, it's understandable why they couldn't find a way to win against a 0-8 team that had one foot in the grave.

Just when Miami found a way to stop the bleeding from its recent four-game slide, albeit by a pathetic safety in overtime against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team takes a huge step back with Monday night's loss.

This leads me to make this bold prediction: Unless something radical happens, in the spirit of the 1989 movie, the Dolphins' season is doomed and making the playoffs is out of the question, period.

If I were Miami's general manager, I'd channel a move right out of the movie that gave Morgan Freeman his first leading role.

"Lean on Me" is a biographical film that is loosely based on the life of Joe Louis Clark aka "Crazy Joe," (played by Freeman) a principle at a troubled urban school in Paterson, NJ.

Simply put, the school is a mess. It is plagued by an out-of-control student body, drugs, alcohol, violence against peers and teachers and a total disregard for authority. The movie appears more like something out of the pages of a Stephen King movie, only the story is based on real events.

Enter Crazy Joe, who is known for his no-nonsense approach and tough-talking persona. However, what catapults him to glorified status is the trademark baseball bat he carries around as a sense of control, change, power and possibility. Miami, are you listening?

After a stretch of coaxing, the new principal takes on the tough job of reforming the school. His first task was nothing less than shock and awe. He fires and/or demotes half of the faculty and those left behind received a tongue-lashing and "shape-up-or-ship-out" warning.

Next, the "new sheriff in town" rounded up droves of students (alleged drug dealers, delinquents, underachievers and bullies) in the school's auditorium. And before he left, in no uncertain terms, it was clear that he meant business.

Pointing to droves of rowdy students behind him, Freeman addressed the audience:

"I want all of you to take a good look at these people on the risers behind me. These people have been here up to five years and done absolutely nothing. These people are drug dealers and drug users. They have taken up space. They have disrupted this school. They have harassed your teachers and they have intimidated you. But times are about to change. You will not be bothered in Joe Clark's school. These people are incorrigible. And since none of them will graduate anyway (turning to the rambunctious group behind him), you are all expurgated. You are dismissed. You are out of here forever…I wish you well," Clark said in closing, motioning for the ex-students to leave the premises.

In the days and months ahead, things got worse. The remaining teachers thought their new boss was off his rocker and arrogant. Meanwhile, students spared the wrath of Clark's head-rolling were left stoic after having been given a reality check, tough love by the principle's standards.

Things took a turn when Clark was jailed for shackling the school's doors to prevent unauthorized entry and departure. In a fleeting moment, it appeared the state was close to taking full control from the local district.

At the last moment, the standardized test results came back. Lo and behold, the school, under Clark's leadership, scored high enough to prevent a takeover.

In parting, Clark, fresh out of jail, said, "You can tell the state to go to hell!"

Like the school in the movie, the Miami Dolphins' trouble begins at the top (with the coaches) and filters down to players, many who are just not getting the job done.

The bullying controversy aside, Miami's offensive linemen are largely responsible for Ryan Tannehill being on record pace for sacks given up in a single season by an NFL quarterback.

In Monday's game, the Bucs accounted for two of Miami's 37 sacks given up for the season so far, according to NFL stats . The all-time single-season sacked record (76) is held by former Houston Texans quarterback, David Carr.

Perhaps, the absence of Incognito and Martin weighed heavily on Tampa Bay's ability to shut down Miami's deplorable running game, should one call it that.

The Dolphins rushed 14 times for a net gain of two yards and achieved only one of their 16 first downs on the ground.

It wasn't all bleak for Miami. Tannehill bested Mike Glennon by going 27-of-42 from the air for 229 yards and throwing two touchdowns, despite dishing one pick.

The only glimmer of light for Tampa Bay going into Monday night's game was honoring Hall of Famer, Warren Sapp in the Bucs' Ring of Honor ceremony at halftime. Arguably, not many people expected the Buccaneers to win their first game against their Florida rival.

And if you don't believe in karma, ESPN's Mike Tirico made a colossal blunder on live TV by calling Dolphins guard Richie Incognito's name -- instead of center Mike Pouncey's -- for an unnecessary roughness penalty.

What's wrong with that picture? Incognito is still suspended over alleged hazing allegations and probably won't be suiting up any time soon.

With the shocking loss in November to a shoddy team, Miami needs an extreme makeover "expeditiously," as Freeman said in the movie. Time is running out.

Again, the use of a baseball bat is a bit extreme, but if the Dolphins continue at this pace, dismissing most -- if not all -- of the coaching staff and player roster for next season is not a bad idea.

Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid fan of the NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.

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