By Justin McCahren
When I die prematurely one of these days, there will be many factors. My diet was awful, my habits were bad and I lived hard. Yet no factor has been more paramount in trimming years from my life than Miami Dolphins football.
I’ve followed Miami Dolphins football religiously since 1983. At the ripe old age of 6, I stuck my post in the soil and raised the teal and orange pennant. That was my team. 85% because of Dan Marino and 15% because I thought real Dolphins were awesome.
When I was youngster, I could’ve went in several other directions as a football fan. I grew up in Pittsburgh Steelers territory. While many consider it blasphemous that I denied the black and gold, let me remind you of the era. The Steelers were quickly becoming a shell of the great Steel Curtain teams. They were approaching a rebuilding project. In 1983, they had a chance to quicken the rebuilding process. They passed on that chance when they passed on University Of Pittsburgh star QB, Dan Marino.
Dan Marino was a legend in Pennsylvania. I latched onto that legend, and the legend ended up with Don Shula in Miami. When I threw the football in the streets in front of my Grandmother’s house, in my head- I wanted to throw just like Dan Marino. I wanted to do everything like Dan Marino. I tried growing my hair like Dan Marino and thought I even looked a little like Dapper Dan. My mother agreed with me, even though I looked as much like Dan Marino as Tony Siragusa does Tom Cruise. Thanks mom.
I could’ve hopped off the Dan Marino bandwagon and became a Washington Redskins fan. My mother married and we moved to the fertile Redskins territory of Northern Virginia. They won the Super Bowl in both 1987 and 1991. I moved right in the middle of that, 1989- but nope, Miami Dolphins for life.
While Marino didn’t disappoint as a player, he and his team were often disappointingly mediocre in the standings. When they Dolphins did get my expectations high, hopes would usually disintegrate rapidly. Lets face it, Dan Marino’s best real clutch performance was in the movie Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. It hurts to joke like that, but on days like today- venting is a must.
Today the Buffalo Bills, with a quarterback you’ve never heard of, a banged-up roster and a coach in his rookie season- handed Miami it’s third straight loss. This was a home game that Miami needed to have, ahead of a tough appointment in Foxboro, MA next week against New England. The Bills 23-21 victory reminded Miami that they may have talent, but they’re a long way from knowing what to do with it.
The Dolphins made waves in the offseason by spending boat load’s of money. Namely, the signing of Mike Wallace to assist the progress of hopeful QB-Stud in the making, Ryan Tannehill. On paper, the Dolphins seemed like a logical choice to at least make the Patriots sweat in the AFC East. To make anyone on their schedule sweat, they’ll have to get more creative with their play calling. Yet, with an offensive line that currently employs an “open-run to the QB policy,” it won’t matter who’s on the roster or what plays they call.
Today, the Dolphins play calling was suspect and the offensive line was nonexistent. In the 2nd half, veteran Offensive Tackle Tyson Clabo was undressed by Mario Williams and the Bills defense. When you break down Clabo, you have one part “Clay” and one part “Bo.” Lets just say Tyson is more like a dried and cracked piece of clay than he is Bo Jackson. The Bills broke him like a terracotta pot. The final piece of clay was left on the field when Ryan Tannehill was overcome by Bills pressure and fumbled the ball right into game-winning field goal range.
Miami looked to be on the verge of a 21-20 victory up until that point. Yet, they never looked comfortable. With so many offensive line breakdowns the past several weeks, it’s hard to tell what they have in Ryan Tannehill. He’s lucky to still be standing upright.
The trouble is, even when he has a little time he looks skittish in the pocket. His legs awkwardly shuffle like a young doe panicked by approaching headlights. Tannehill is an athletic guy, yet Miami’s Swiss Cheese offensive line has turned him into Bambi.
The point of all this is not to breakdown all the misery of today’s debacle. The point is, I’ve been here before. Deja vu, Groundhog Day, whatever you want to call it. It may be a different cast of players, but the results are the same. I’m beginning to think that in 1972, head coach Don Shula made a deal with the devil. The Devil’s deal was simple. “Don, you can have the only undefeated team in NFL history. The Dolphins will just have to suffer many seasons of frustration afterward.”
It just always seem that this franchise will take a couple steps forward, and then they’re suddenly pushed ten steps back.
The Dolphins are always on the cusp of doing some real good things. The cusp is just never surpassed. I want to believe in the current group of players, I really do. There is plenty of talent on the roster. Results like today just make a fan realize that it isn’t easy to gel as a team. On paper, they’re better…on the field, it’s the same old Miami Dolphins.
They’re like that chic on *insert social media site here* that posts selfies all day long. (Everyone has one or more on your news feed) At first you think she’s cute, but the more you see of her, the more repulsive she becomes. The Dolphins started out looking like Scarlett Johansson. They were 3-0 with two road wins. One of those wins was in Indianapolis where the Colts have handed both the Seahawks and Broncos their only losses. Now, Miami is 3-3 and their selfies look more like Lois Einhorn, AKA Ray Finkle. (Two Ace Ventura references in one column is a sure sign that the Dolphins are indeed pushing me the brink of insanity.)
At the end of each heartbreaking loss, I still staunchly support my team. I’m glad I rooted for a guy like Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever do it. I’m thrilled that my team was blessed with the winningest coach in NFL History, Don Shula. I’m proud to support Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill now. Will they eventually be the answer? I hope so.
Times like these just remind fans to enjoy the good moments. It’s hard to get the formula just right in the NFL. To gel as a team and grow as a real contender takes a lot of sacrifice. Finding the right mix of players to collectively sacrifice their all is rare. Miami has some work to do this week if they want to stand a chance against a team that defines sacrifice- the arch rival New England Patriots.
The Patriots were upset by the New York Jets today. So, not only does Miami face the Patriots on the road, they face an angry Patriots team on the road. The deck is stacked, but as a Dolphins fan that wears his fandom on his sleeve, I’ll believe. I’ll believe all week that we’re going to upset New England.
My love affair with my time prohibits me from ever thinking rationally. I’m like the corny 80’s jean-jacketed teenager standing outside a window with a boom box raised above my head. Yet, it’s not playing a corny love song.
It’s playing the Miami Dolphins fight song.
That’s right. That banjo cuts deep. The Patriots need to be afraid. Very afraid.
You know what happens when a Dolphin is backed into a corner, right? Nah, I got nothing.
I just know that Paul Revere wouldn’t want Flipper… you know, I should’ve just stopped while I was ahead.
The Dolphins are my team, no matter how many frustrating losses accumulate. No matter how many expletives explode from my mouth each week. No matter how high my blood pressure gets while I watch. No matter how scared my dog is of me after one of my typical Sunday meltdowns. (Not towards my dog. She just knows to hide for cover right around the time I start flailing my arms in the air. Big shout-out to Zooey the dog.) It’s just starting to become pretty obvious that I may need to start watching their games with a defibrillator in the very near future.