Dan Campbell would be proud of the Miami Dolphins (Sort of…)
I just can’t quite buy in yet, sorry Miami Dolphins fans. We saw a similarly physical and brutish ground and pound movement happen last year, it just happened one game sooner in the schedule, when Dan Campbell blew out the Titans and Texans in back to back weeks.
Those two wins were incredibly refreshing at the time because they were so un-Philbinesque. We thought we were onto something with a muscle bound, goatee sporting hardo of a coach. I just hope this year’s surge is more sustainable… but is it?
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Jay Ajayi is a perfect example of why it would be idiotic to draft Fournette, Chubb or whomever ends up in the top half of the first round. Running backs truly do grow on trees. Ajayi is clearly a stud, so let’s run this big dreadlocked beast into the ground over the remaining 41 starts he has on his Rookie Contract.
We can replace him when we draft another gaggle of fourth-to-sixth round tailbacks and hope one of them hits. Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen to the Miami Dolphins for the rest of the year, JA23 should factor into the near-term fate of the team in 2017 and beyond.
So let’s get back to the initial question. Which one of these two-game surges will we look back on five years from now as a sign of positive things to come, and not a flash in the pan? Campbell’s 2015 or Ajayi’s 2016? In my opinion, the answer lies with the offensive line.
If you were to build a case for the Dolphins winning the next five games — all against sub .500 opponents — and heading into the thick of the X-mas season at 8-4, the crux of your argument would reference the fact that Ryan Tannehill is 8-1 in his career, with a 100-plus passer rating in games Brandon Albert, Ju’Wuan James and Mike Pouncey are healthy enough to start and finish.
There’s a reason some refer to that nine game stretch in Ryan’s career as the “Unicorn Games”, it’s because they never bloody happen. The fact that there have been only nine of them in the 41 Tannehill starts since they came together is a testament to the shaky medical history of those three crucial, yet porcelain pro bowl talents along the line.
Pouncey and James were both first round picks taken by previous Dolphins regimes, and Albert was a $56 million man brought in prior to the 2014 season. The endless resources Miami has had to allocate to the offensive line to create the cavernous, Utopian pocket that Tannehill needs to look like a slightly above average quarterback is astonishing.
None of this matters if we don’t beat the Jets. When I did my predictions back in August, I said the Phins would go 6-10, and frankly if we lose on November 6th, that’ll put us at 3-5 and on pace to make me look spot on. If we can’t beat the Fitzy led Jets, at home, with 14 days to prepare, then we are just as mediocre as we thought at the end of the Bengals and Titans games.
Dan Campbell would be proud of the ground and pound, fist-fighting way this team is playing. Let’s hope the unicorns stay healthy, we continue to throw it less than 25 times per game, and Ryan Tannehill can continue to look like the Alex Smith 2.0, that we all think — and fear — he is.
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