Is it just a dream?
The Miami Dolphins may have won Sunday, but every time they crossed the 50-yard line, I felt a familiar song creep into my head, with some not-so-familiar lyrics. Maybe my age betrays me here, but as Chad Henne led the team closer to pay dirt, all I could think to myself was, "I always feel like, we're gonna settle for three, I guess it's who we be! Oh, wo wo..."
Aside from the general laughter the Rockwell parody garnered, there was also a sick feeling of deja vu for most Dolphin fans. Stop me when this sounds familiar:
Miami gets inside the opponent's 40-yard line. Some combination of a dropped pass, a stupid penalty or a head-scratching running play on third-and-long happens. Out trots Miami MVP Dan Carpenter, the wind blowing through his Brady-esque locks, who bangs home the field goal. The camera cuts to Tony Sporano clapping and cheering wildly as though the team just won the division.
Never mind for a moment that the Dolphins once again won a road game against an inferior opponent. It seems as though every Dolphins fan should be given pause by Sporano's continued reaction to these moments.
When the New England Patriots (sitting atop the NFL standings, by the way) have to settle for three, wild horses couldn't wipe the scowl off Bill Belichick's face. When the Tennessee Titans have a drive fizzle, Jeff Fisher can't stop shaking his head.
Yet week after week, Dolphin fans are treated to a hysterically happy Tony Sporano whooping it up with his special teams unit as though he has Dan Carpenter in a high-stakes fantasy league.
Is it because he is a line coach at heart? Is it because he doesn't believe in Chad Henne any more than Bill Parcells did? I remain mystified.
For two straight weeks, Dan Carpenter has kicked five field goals (only the fourth player in history to accomplish such a feat). For two straight weeks, the Dolphins have mustered 22 points. And for the 20th straight season, it looks like the Dolphins' offense stinks where it matters most, scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
The Dolphins have managed a miserable 11 touchdowns through seven games, and one of those was a defensive score. Dan Carpenter is third in the league in scoring despite having nearly half the extra point tries of the two kickers in front of him.
What does all this really mean? In my view, it confirms my assertion last week that the Dolphins will continue to beat crummy teams and lose to the good ones.
Regardless of the horrible call that went against Miami against Pittsburgh, the inescapable fact is that the Dolphins could have been up 14-0 five minutes into the game, and instead were up 6-0.
Any NFL fan, player or coach will tell you that you cannot settle for three against good teams and expect to win, especially when you have a young defense prone to making mistakes, which leads me to my other concern for the team going forward.
It may sound trite, but you cannot spell Clemons without "lemons," and young Chris Clemons proved that in spades on Sunday.
Clemons missed at least three tackles and dropped two interceptions, most notably the waking nightmare that was Terrell Owen's second touchdown on Sunday.
Everyone knows defensive backs can't catch, and I hate to pile on the kid as I am sure nobody felt worse than he did, but come on, man. If Miami had lost this game, that play would be all anyone talked about this week, and it highlights Miami's biggest problems going forward.
The Miami defense can't afford to give ANYTHING away. If they allow a touchdown, then the offense has to put together three Sporano specials to make up that deficit. If the special teams gags up a return, they might as well call it a night and give up a couple more because the offense won't save them.
Miami has been plagued by bad free safety play for almost a decade, basically since Brock Marion retired, and I can't help but cast a rueful glance back to the draft last spring when we chose to trade out of the 12th spot and in the process pass on Texas stud Earl Thomas.
Just so we are all clear on the implications as they stand today: Earl Thomas seamlessly moved from his draft position as a strong safety to free safety for the Seattle Seahawks. He currently leads his team in tackles, boasts five passes defensed and four interceptions.
The media in Miami have been talking recently about the fact that Clemons didn't have a career pass defensed until this weekend. Meanwhile, the Dolphins' eventual first-round pick, Jared Odrick, played less than a half before a combination of freak injuries ended his rookie season.
The Dolphins are making everyone in Miami feel like they're settling for three. Maybe Randy Moss can be a late season treat? Who's playin' tricks on me?