The Miami Dolphins have won 3 straight games in exciting, blow-out fashion. What amazes me is how quickly so many Dolphins fans forget that this team lost their first 7 games of the season. Seven straight games…SEVEN. That’s 1 game short of HALF of the season. Almost halfway to a winless season. Over the past week or so I’ve heard things you would not imagine, such as “Sparano has this team motivated and playing very hard”…..”He should come back next year as the Dolphins Head Coach”. REALLY? Yes, Tony Sparano has done a good job in guiding the Dolphins to 3 straight wins. But we cannot forget the previous 7 games….or the previous 2 seasons.
There is no denying that Tony Sparano did a great job in his first year as Dolphins Head Coach, leading the team to the 2008 AFC East Title. But, what has happened since? Sparano has gone 7-9 in 2009, 7-9 in 2010, and is currently 3-7 in 2011. The trend line is not pointing up for the Dolphins under Sparano. We’re not forgetting about Jeff Ireland either, his time will come too. But as the Dolphins coach, the team’s record has gotten progressively worse under Sparano. Maybe it was his great first year that raised expectations to unreachable heights? Yes, the Dolphins played a light schedule that year, we all know that. But, following the 2008 season, we thought the Dolphins would only get better with the Parcells/Ireland/Sparano Trifecta in charge….According to their record, they’ve only gotten worse. What was the famous line from Parcells himself? You are what your record says you are. The Dolphins record suggests that they are a less than mediocre team that will need a miracle (or 2) to make the playoffs.
Making the playoffs…Sounds like some far off land, doesn’t it? It’s hard for me to remember the last Dolphins playoff win…which is really sad considering I eat, sleep, and breathe Miami Dolphins football. For Sparano, he will most likely need to make the playoffs in order to return as the Dolphins head coach. He has a LOT of work to do. What is the Dolphins road map to the playoffs? Simply put: The Dolphins need to win out (9-7) and get a LOT of help. The Dolphins dug themselves into 15th place in the AFC, 10 games into the season. That means, they need to jump 9 teams to earn the 2nd Wild Card Spot. The Dolphins are currently 3 games behind the Bengals for that last Wild Card spot, with 6 games left to play. Catching the Bengals is one thing, but it’s the 8 other teams between them and the Dolphins that make it all the more challenging, if not impossible.
In reality, Sparano needs to get the Dolphins to 7 or 8 wins to even begin discussing whether he should return or not. A Dolphins 6-10 season would almost certainly mean that Stephen Ross will fire Sparano and start courting the Cowhers, Grudens, and Fishers of the world. If this winning streak has done nothing else, it has ended the constant buzz about who the next Dolphins coach is going to be, cooling Sparano’s seat just a degree or two. Don’t get me wrong, his seat is still the hottest in the NFL, but he’s bought himself some time…..He may even make it until the end of the season as Dolphins coach. But, if he wants to coach the Dolphins in 2012 and beyond, he’s still got a lot of winning, praying, and scoreboard watching to do.