Let's start with a counterfactual proposition: suppose Greg Camarillo drops the third and five pass in the dying minutes of Monday night's contest against the Jets. Or worse, suppose Ronnie Brown fumbles on the one foot line with a dozen seconds left in the contest? Then, where is Miami?
The answer, of course, is 1-4. But not only 1-4, 1-4 and tied with the apoplexic Bills. It's a harrowing thought for Dolphin fans, but a sobering one as well, because in reality, Miami was just one bad play away from that lurid possibility.
And what does that mean?
It means that the Dolphins have a great deal of room for improvement. No where is this more evident in the secondary where the play has risen and fallen in both impressive and alarming crescendos. On Monday night, it was Will Allen, the sage and talented veteran who looked suspect. A few weeks ago, it was Gibril Wilson who resembled a strawman grasping desperately at the jersey of Dallas Clark among other Colts in an embarrassing performance, a performance reminiscent of Gene Atkins floundering out of position as a Seahawk receiver scooted down the middle of the field for a game winning touchdown.
You remember that?
One of the early signature moves of the new regime in Miami seemed to be that if you didn't perform, you were gone. Jay Feely can attest to this, as can a cadre of fullbacks ushered through the revolving door until Lousaka Polite settled into place. This week, reports that three punters have been given tryouts with the team seems to suggest this ominous practice is alive and well, as Brandon Fields will likely attest to as well.
Thus far, however, the Dolphins secondary seems to be given a pass. Yeremiah Bell's play has been decent, but not exceptional. The rookie Shaun Smith seems to have a knack for the highlight reel, but at times, that has been both good and bad. Wilson has been shaky, if not at times awful, and Allen sufficient with lots of room for improvement.
But none of the four have been effectively benched for marginal play, which begs the question: how much depth does Sparano really have in the secondary. After the Indianapolis game, Wilson should have been benched. He was awful. The fact that he wasn't suggests the Dolphins plan to stick with this group of defenders in the secondary.
Miami fans: enjoy your week and the bye. But if the play of the secondary does not improve in the coming weeks, don't expect the present wind blowing your sails on a the restorative course of divisional contention that has everyone's head turning this week to keep blowing.