You can criticize the 2013 Miami Dolphins for many things. The team has given up more sacks this season than in any other year in franchise history, and it’s done so in a remarkably irresponsible fashion after potentially striking gold at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill after 13 years spent in the wilderness following Dan Marino‘s retirement.
The Dolphins have also employed one of the most inconsistent running games in team history, as evidenced by the grand total of two rushing yards they mustered in Week 10 — the lowest total Miami has ever seen. Defensively, led by a porous linebacker corps, Kevin Coyle‘s unit has underachieved defending the run by ranking 25th in run defense with one game to play.
As a whole, the Dolphins have experienced a four-game losing streak, a loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football and two defeats to the last place Buffalo Bills. Nothing could have been more frustrating for fans than to see the Dolphins get shutout in Buffalo and forfeit control over their own destiny in the playoff race last Sunday just one week after an emotional win over the New England Patriots many deemed the biggest in years for the organization.
The list of criticisms is extensive, but there is one area the Dolphins only deserve praise; the team has displayed resilience time and time again just when it appeared hope was dwindling for their season.
The aforementioned four-game losing streak or embarrassing loss to the Buccaneers in front of the entire country could have easily derailed Miami’s playoff hopes. Heartbreaking defeats to the Patriots in Week 8, when the Dolphins relinquished a 17-3 halftime lead, and the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, when they gave up a 16-3 lead and Cam Newton led a go-ahead touchdown drive that culminated with under a minute to play, could have been the last straw.
I don’t believe the whole bullying fiasco was the calamity-inducing headline the media made it out to be, but it was an unwanted distraction that removed two starting offensive linemen, nonetheless.
These were all moments when the Dolphins could have accepted their seemingly looming fate as a losing team. They could have been knocked further and further down with each strike of adversity. Instead, they always found a way to bounce back, a way to hold on after blows many other teams would have found to be devastating. Through it all, the Dolphins steadily improved throughout the season. They were in the midst of playing their best football, having won four of five and three consecutive heading into Buffalo in Week 16.
Then came one of the most inept offensive performances in team history, headlined by a season-worst seven sacks and 103 total yards. It was a new type of low for a team that had seemingly come so far.
Taking a look at the Dolphins’ track record is all one of their faithful needs to do to find hope, however. Of course, being put in situations that require a bounce-back performance has been the Dolphins’ doing. They aren’t the victim when their own disappointing play has backed them against the ropes.
But Miami’s ability to thrive just when pundits and fans are ready to write them off suggests it is more than capable of showing up in a big way at home on Sunday afternoon against the New York Jets. A big way that affirms there is no quit in these Dolphins. A big way that salvages a season that is one win away from being anointed a success and one loss away from the labeled of failure.
It’s been a roller-coaster season for Miami, so it’s only fitting it enters Week 17 needing a win and help to back into the playoffs. It’s also fitting that a victory over the Jets will require something the Dolphins have saved their season with several times already: resilience.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.