Bills vs. Dolphins: 7 Reasons Miami Needs To Keep Playing Tough
At 2-7, the Miami Dolphins would have to win all of their remaining games to garner a shot at the playoffs. Such a feat would require victories in Dallas, Buffalo and New England, and home wins versus the Raiders, Eagles and Jets.
In other words, the 'Fins won't be making a playoff appearance in 2011.
But that does not mean their season is over.
Both the roster and the organization have plenty to prove, plenty to lose and plenty to gain over the next seven weeks. Whether they succeed or fail could dictate the direction Miami takes in 2012.
They Need Momentum Heading into 2012
Just because the Dolphins have struggled to a dismal 2-7 record does not mean this is an untalented team.
Miami's defense is seething with skill from top to bottom. Youngsters like Sean Smith, Vontae Davis, Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai and Kendall Langford formulate an extremely promising nucelus. Meanwhile, veterans like Karlos Dansby, Yeremiah Bell, Cameron Wake and Randy Starks round out a defense that is just now hitting its stride.
Clearly, this roster has playoff potential. If Miami can finish this season strong, they can build momentum and capitalize on it next season.
Rookies and Young Players Need Solid Experience
The Dolphins roster is littered with young players, many of whom have shown glimpses of greatness.
Guys like Daniel Thomas, Mike Pouncey, Jared Odrick and Koa Misi will all become staples on this roster, but they need ample game experience to fulfill their potentials. However, their experience could be tainted if the team isn't playing tough as a whole.
Some Starting Jobs Are Up for the Taking
Miami's struggles have exposed a wide variety of shortcomings, but there's still time for some players to salvage their season and make a case for a starting job next year.
So long as the Dolphins continue playing tough, the door will remain open for players like Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Kevin Burnett, Anthony Fasano, Richie Incognito and others to make an impact and claim starting jobs for next season.
The Dolphins Still Need To Prioritize Their Offseason Needs
Unfortunately, not all of those aforementioned players will step up and make a case for starting jobs, however, it is still vital that everybody continues to give a full effort.
The Dolphins will likely be forced to start the 2012 season with a few suspect starters. They can't address every single need this offseason, so management (or whoever the future GM is) must use this second half of the season to evaluate those bubble starters and decide which ones can serve in a starting role for another year.
Miami Will Want To Attract the Hottest Coach/GM on the Market This Offseason
There should be quite a few polarizing names on the coaching carousel this offseason.
Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher headline the group, but hotshot coordinators like Joe Philbin, Marty Mornhinweg, Gregg Williams and Perry Fewell will also draw plenty of interest from teams around the league.
Stephen Ross will be determined—and probably more so than any other NFL owner—to bring in the most highly regarded candidate. However, the Dolphins won't be the only team in the market for a head coach. Some of these coaches might prefer to take over a team with a dedicated group of players, not one that mailed in their season just because they were out of playoff contention.
The Team Needs To Maintain Fan Support
Miami's habit of disappointing their fanbase has finally caught up to them. The team struggled mightily to sell out home games versus the Texans, Broncos and Redskins—and if it weren't for Stephen Ross' infinite bank account, there's a good chance they would have been blacked out.
Another terrible season won't help the Dolphins' cause, but if this team can finish the year strong then those "fringe" or "casual" fans might not desert the team.
A Positive Locker Room Environment Will Draw Free Agents
When the Dolphins stumbled out of the gate to an 0-7 start, the locker room nearly imploded.
Reggie Bush publicly blasted the team, Karlos Dansby and Anthony Fasano reacted in anger against Suck for Luck and Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis nearly came to blows.
But over the last two weeks, there has been a visible shift in mentality. The team has played inspired, and their interactions on the field seem to be extraordinarily positive and jubilant.
The Dolphins will be in the market for a slew of free agents to help fill some of their needs, and their current locker-room camaraderie will appeal to those potential new players.