Phinished? Miami Dolphins' Prospects Under New Head Coach Joe Philbin

Kevin RyanContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2012

I almost changed the beginning of the headline, but it sounded too good.

I almost changed it because Joe Philbin, coming out of the gate, said all the right things.

Also, he hasn't done anything wrong yet, and, for the time being, I am willing to rally behind the new head coach that the powers that be have named.

Tentatively, that is.

My problem is with the mistakes the franchise has made in recent memory prior to the hiring, and my fear that they might not be able to take on a winning mentality.

Winning teams have a winning mentality. They develop a winning signature. The signature rests on a winning template.

Losing teams have a losing mentality. They develop a losing signature. The signature rests on a losing template.

This is an article about the Miami Dolphins.

I had hopes for this team—coming into the 2011 season, I felt that the team was quite talented, quite ready to win most of the games they are "supposed to," to occasionally challenge the big boys, and to establish some heady momentum, and be truly ready to compete in 2012. I felt the team was on their way.

At 0-4, I was disappointed, but maintained hope, with my article "Bad Record, Good Team."

At 0-7, the only silver lining that I could muster was captured with "0-16 Simply Not Happening."


A funny thing happened, however, later in the 2011 season.

The Dolphins started to win.

The quarterback play began to jell. Brandon Marshall's numbers improved. Reggie Bush did become the every-down back that only Tony Sparano envisioned. The defense finally fell into place, and the team won six of their final nine games.

In hindsight, the post-Parcells draft proved to be a productive one, and all the choices that the coaching staff had made regarding free agency seemed to be outstanding.

The team seemed primed for 2012 evolution, and was building a solid foundation.

I dared to hope that that losing template had been eradicated.

Still, I became dubious. What if the powers that be can't see the winning foundation being set down? What if they continue to react like a losing team, not taking their late-season success to heart?

The Dolphins fired Sparano, and, at least for the time being, I'm going to call this a mistake.

Yes, I know, I know, I've heard the collective voice of the fan base barking for his execution for some time now. However, I still maintain that it's the timing of the firing which is questionable. A team which is young and on a roll at the end of a season is often ripe for a run the following year, as long as it can continue to build on its foundation.

The Dolphins and their owner Stephen Ross don't appear to be able to build a team with patience.

They need to win now. They long for a franchise quarterback that will lead them to the promised land—which sounds not unlike a lonely single man who longs to fix his social life by dating a supermodel. They will break up a pair of sevens to chase after a royal flush. A royal flush who, by the way, is 36 and unhealthy.

Let's take a look at our quarterback situation, shall we?

Matt Moore ranked 12th in the league among active starters. Of the top 16 QBs, only Moore seems to be viewed as a potential non-starter for next year.

In his first year with enough attempts to even qualify as a starter, Moore had a QB rating of 87.1. How does that compare with the franchise quarterbacks out there and their first years as qualifiers, I wonder?


Moore's rating is better than Matt Stafford's first year, and also better than Cam Newton's. But to be fair, those were rookie years, and MM has just completed his fifth year. Also, to be fair, I must admit that ALL the QB ratings have all done a bit of a leapfrog lately. Having said that, let's see how Moore' numbers compare to the big boys higher up the evolutionary chain?

Actually quite well. Moore's rating exceeds two of Ben Roethlisberger's years, five of Carson Palmer's years, and five of Eli Manning's years.

You would have to go even further up the food chain, really high, to find someone whose numbers have  exceeded Moore's 2011 campaign, wouldn't you? You would have to go as high as Drew Brees and Tom Brady to get to that level, correct? 

Actually, no. Moore's rating was better than Drew's first two years and Brady's first three.

There's another QB whose rookie campaign rated lower than Moore's. His name is Peyton Manning.

What can we take from this? Does this mean that Moore, right now, is better than these franchise players? Of course not. Such a statement would be ludicrous. What it does mean, though, is that MM has earned the right to start in 2012, and that the sky is the limit for this quarterback and franchise in the days (and years) to come.

If the powers that be can find the winning mentality, that is.


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