When does a 23-20 overtime loss to your biggest rivals breed hope? When does 1-2 breed hope? Is there a reason for Miami Dolphins fans to have hope?
Yes. There are plenty of reasons as I will introduce you to today.
A somewhat shady goody-two-shoes named Spencer Hastings from an enjoyably bad yet still very good television program called Pretty Little Liars is responsible for that quote. Even though in context the quote doesn't seem to make much sense, it does for the Dolphins.
But what's better, having no hope like it seemed like the Miami Dolphins did at this time last season, when possible game-winning drives stalled because of inept quarterback play? Or having almost eternal-hope thanks to a very poised rookie quarterback who with the help of an All-Pro running back is keeping an otherwise inept offense afloat and at 1-2?
I'll take the latter, which is what the Dolphins are giving us this season.
Miami stands at 1-2, but a few bad coaching decisions and two missed field goals are the difference between the current record and 2-1. Only a hands-down Super Bowl contender (the currently undefeated Houston Texans) can say they've destroyed Miami, and it was on the road in Week 1.
How have the Dolphins responded? The way you'd want a young team to respond. Tannehill hasn't been masterful, but he's showed a lot of progress. Not as many passes have been tipped at the line of scrimmage, only one interception has been thrown and Tannehill has only been sacked once.
Tannehill isn't the problem, rather the solution. I now have full trust in the kid and see nothing but good things to come not only this season but in the next decade.
You could tell this season will be a crossroads for both the Dolphins and Jets. The Dolphins can only get better and have shown the ability to do so. The Jets seem to regress every week. They actually played worse against the Dolphins than they did against Pittsburgh. I'm actually willing to guarantee that Miami finishes with a better record than a Jets team that won despite their flaws on both sides of the ball.
I'd also bet on Miami to win the rematch in the Meadowlands come next month, when Miami will be a much better team (and hopefully have a full 60 minutes of Reggie Bush).
It's sad to say considering the state of this team, but now we can say we know what the Dolphins flaws are, and it will be easier to fix. The defensive line is top-notch, pressuring the quarterback and stuffing the run. The linebackers can play well in coverage but make a huge mark when they get into the backfield.
Miami's offensive line has improved from Game 1 of the season at a faster rate than anyone could expect, and Miami's running game, what else can we say about it? We're fortunate as Dolphins fans that we have two of the most exciting runners in the league. Now, if only our coaching staff could use one of them (Lamar Miller, what you thought I meant Daniel Thomas?) more, so we can really see what this team could do.
The defensive backfield and the wide receivers are the main issues. Davone Bess and Brian Hartline make a great No. 2 and No. 3 receiving tandem, but they need their No. 1 to spring them open.
As for the secondary? I almost have no words for them at this point. But here's the good news: This next draft can fix them all, even if it looks like Miami will be choosing somewhere between 12-20 and not in the top 10. Miami will have a total of five draft picks in the first three rounds, providing plenty of opportunities to fix the defensive backfield and wide receivers.
Dolphins fans, the next home game is against the St. Louis Rams on October 14th. Get your tickets now. The Dolphins will be honoring Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas while taking on a coach who thought he was too good for this team. No more orange seats, just orange shirts. Make Sun Life Stadium rock.
You will have a good reason to. Miami will at worst win one game in this difficult road trip against Arizona and Cincinnati. While the Arizona Cardinals were spectacular against the Eagles yesterday, Cincinnati's defense gives me reasons to think that Miami can beat the Bengals.
This Dolphins team gives me a lot of reason to have hope, but when their problems are fixed, and as Tannehill continues to develop, hope won't be about eternal misery.
But instead, potential ecstasy.