At 3-3, and in a four way tie atop the AFC East, the Miami Dolphins know they could easily have been 5-1, had they made a couple of crucial stops in two games they gave away. The “what could have been” mantra can often times bring a team down, but in the case of the Dolphins, it has just gone to show the strength of their underrated team.
It seems that the national media is finally starting to catch on, and the Dolphins are starting to receive positive coverage. The most notable coverage has been focused on the advanced play of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, or on the stingy play of the run defense that is giving up just 78.2 yards per game. Even after dropping from 1st in run defense, to 5th after playing the St. Louis Rams in Week 6, the Dolphins front 7 is being seen in a new light.
After a poorly publicized offseason, the Dolphins were often mentioned in terms of among the worst in the league. The insight offered by the HBO camera’s during the filming of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Miami Dolphins did little to change the national perception.
Throughout it all, the Dolphins locker room remained steadfast in their belief in the team. Several players made statements that were scoffed at by members of the media, and by skeptical fans who believe Miami can never win as long as Jeff Ireland is the General Manager. Now, the Dolphins sit at .500, in a division where no one has been able to separate themselves from the pack, and the a playoff spot is waiving in the distance.
Even though the New England Patriots have shown themselves to be vulnerable this season, they are still the favorites to win the division, and the Dolphins will have to improve in their second half execution. In the last four games, they have had the lead late and watched as their opponents mounted ferocious comebacks. Twice now, they have been able to hold off the attack, and win the ball game after giving up the first two.
There has been improvement in the passing game, where the Dolphins were thought to have one of the worst group of receivers in the league, and they are currently less than 300 yards behind the best passing team in the NFL. This is with an overlooked receiving corps, and a rookie quarterback.
The run game started out strong, with Reggie Bush among the best in the league as the season got underway, but after going out with a knee injury against the New York Jets in week 3, Bush’s average per run has dropped in consecutive weeks, from a high of 6.6 per carry to a 1.4 average against a good defense in St Louis on Sunday. The team rushing average is 3.7 per carry, much lower than what the running backs have shown they are capable of. The coaches need to put their guys in a position to do what they do best. One positive that came out of the game against the Rams, was the use of Bush in the passing game. Originally known as a receiving back, Reggie can be electrifying when given the ball in space, and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman knows he needs to showcase his players strengths.
There is still a long ways for the Dolphins to go before they can truly be named among the best in the league. They are going to need to show some consistency, and continue to play tough, even in the losses, but from what they have shown so far ,there is no reason to expect anything less.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.