Monday, November 10, 2008

Miami Dolphins - The Sleeper & Cinderella Team of the NFL 08-09 Season

Wow. If you had told me at the beginning of this season that the "fish wannabes" will be the sleeper team for this season I would have laughed my butt off. Honestly. This team barely won a game last year!

This year though it is a different story all around. And it is not just the wins that has me excited and optimistic about this squad. It is the adversity and the plotlines that surround this team. Here is a team in probably the 2nd most daunting division in the NFL. It could not have been easy coming to work knowing that you will be facing the Pats, Jets and Bills twice each during the season; especially after nearly going 0 and 16 the previous season. I have been on some really horrible sports teams and I can testify to the quicksand nature of losing. It can sometimes feel like a losing battle trying to save your competitive life but good teams can always find a way to overcome this adversity - bad teams fade into the abyss of despair and squabble. This Dolphin team has just continued to grind out games this season and it is really inspirational.

Consider some of the stories surrounding this team prior to this season:
* Nick Saban abandons the program before completing his term; this after making so many promises to turn around the sinking ball club.

* Ricky Williams and his well publicized puff habit

* Ronnie Brown still working his way to top form after re-constructive knee surgery

* Joey Porter coming of a very pedestrian season after enjoying so much success in Pittsburgh

* A new QB in Chad Pennington who had been run out of town by the New York, football, Jets. The word on CP was that he lacked the arm strength and the moxie to bang out big games against a tough and stingy defense. The expectations were that he had the experience to manage games and help the team save some face after last season's debacle.

* Tedd "questionable first round pick" Ginn, Jr. and the whole world of expectation thrusted upon him. You had to wonder if he would crack under the pressure and scrutiny

* Jason Taylor abandoning the team to go to a "contender" - basically, not wanting to be around for the 0 and 16 season coming up. He had no desire to get stuck in quicksand another season.

* Antony Fasano as a starting TE?

* A suspect coverage team and front-line defense & a suspect supporting cast on offense.

* New head coach

* A power change and shift in personnel at the management levels.

I can go on and on but you get the idea. This team was not expected to compete this year. Definitely not expected to be 5-4 at this point of the season. Not expected to be the trend-setter and definite team of this season with their resurgence of the wildcat offense in the NFL. Not expected to be anything more than an afterthought. But like the new President-elect in the U.S.A., they must have believed that change was coming. They must have believed in "Yes, we can" and that has helped them turn the corner as a team. They are doing it together. This is truly the team to watch out for in the final months of this season. With upcoming games against the Rams, Chiefs, Raiders and Niners, I would be suprised if this team does not win at least 9 games this season. If they are able to beat at least one of their divisional rivals in addition to these 4 teams, we will have a 10 win team on our hands.

Coming off a 1-15 season last year and having a chance to win 10 games this year makes the Dolphins the official sleeper and cinderella team of this season. I will implore you to keep an eye out for this squad.

Deoye "Smashmauf"


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