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Time to Raise Bar for 2013 Dolphins After 3-0 Start

Rookie tight end Dion Sims makes the game-winning touchdown catch on Sunday versus the Falcons

Before the season began, countless Dolphins fans disputed what would constitute a successful 2013 season. The majority settled on nine or 10 wins, to which many claimed a playoff berth would also be in order.

Most, if not all, of those arguments acknowledged what was said to be a gauntlet of an opening schedule for Miami. Winning at least two, if not three, of the first five games of the season was considered imperative if the Dolphins were going to make a playoff run. The first five games of the slate featured three 2012 playoff teams and three road games, after all.

And the Dolphins were a team with several new pieces on both sides of the ball, and a lack of cohesiveness was feared early on. Uncertainty was also a factor. There was no telling how improved second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill would be or how the several free-agent acquisitions would perform playing in a new environment.

The bulk of Dolphins fans were hopeful, but cautiously so. And nobody could blame them for that. Not after what they’ve been through following this team over the past decade.

But after a mere three weeks, the Dolphins are quickly proving that their bar for success this season should be higher. The expectations for the remainder of their season need not be so modest. This team can be special, and being satisfied with anything less is unnecessarily abstemious.

Of course, being content with a nine or 10-win record might be tempting. The Dolphins haven’t had a winning season since 2008, which was the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2001, after all.

It’s obviously understandable for a fanbase to relish the idea of returning to the postseason. But if you’re capable of more, you should strive for more.

To achieve greatness, which should be every team’s goal, you must set out for greatness. The Dolphins would be selling themselves short if a successful season means nine or 10 wins and qualifying for a wild card seed. Miami doesn’t beat two Super Bowl-caliber teams in the Colts and Falcons if they weren’t capable of more.

And that’s not to say the Dolphins are a flawless team that has arrived at an elite level of play. Far from it. During the first half of their 27-23 win over the Falcons on Sunday, it was quite obvious that Joe Philbin’s squad still has its fair share of blemishes.

The Dolphins’ front seven was gashed for nearly 150 yards on the ground by an Atlanta team that was without its starting running back. The Dolphins’ offensive line, tight ends and running backs were responsible for giving up five sacks to a Falcons pass rush that had only generated two in their previous two games.

In all honesty, the Dolphins didn’t deserve to move to 3-0 on the season. Their play, at least, wasn’t indicative of an undefeated team in Week 3.

But their resolve certainly was.

Miami found a way to win. They made big plays when a big play was required. And the higher the stakes became, the better they performed offensively and defensively.

The Dolphins may not be a dominant team. At least not yet. But they do appear to be a winning team. A team that has that “it” factor it takes to play in and win big games. And upping what the standard should be for a team as capable as the Dolphins entails massive improvement in the aforementioned struggles.

If they’re a great team, they’ll get off blocks and make tackles more consistently against the run in future weeks. They’ll find a way to get more reliable protection for Tannehill too. At least they better.

As impressive as it was beating an elite team like the Falcons despite those issues, success isn’t sustainable if said problems continue. But the teams that routinely win in this league are the teams that make adjustments. And that’s what should be expected of these Dolphins.

But what exactly should Miami’s modified standard of success be?

This team is more than capable of winning the AFC East. They’re more than capable of playing in a home postseason game this coming January. Failing to do so wouldn’t be a massive failure by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be a missed opportunity.

You get the sense, with this team, that the Dolphins are winning in the process of coming together. This remodeled roster is only three games experienced. Camaraderie is just beginning to take root. Improvement is almost imminent. And yet, the Dolphins are 3-0.

“We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do together,” head coach Joe Philbin told his players after Sunday’s win. Philbin is right.

The Dolphins are relevant again and they appear on the cusp of making a run at the playoffs. But they can be so much more than just in the discussion. They can truly become a special team.

Not to say finishing 9-7 or 10-6 and qualifying for a wild card spot would be a bad thing for the Dolphins. It would be a nice step forward for a franchise that has seen four consecutive losing seasons.

But it would only be a step when a leap is possible.


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4 Responses to “Time to Raise Bar for 2013 Dolphins After 3-0 Start”

  1. Peter Vaiker says:

    I will be anxious to see how this team responds after such a “high” at home beating the Falcons. It will be very easy for them to roll over and get thrashed in New Orleans on Monday night and be fine with a 3 and 1 record. Is this a team that can dig deep when the going gets tough and really solidify themselves as 2013 Super Bowl Contenders? Beating the Falcons is admirable, but by no means do they have a Saints caliber offense. The Dolphins will have a wake up call this week but hopefully they can rebound… Saints 35 Dolphins 24

  2. Dolph Fin says:

    EVERYONE IS ACTING SURPRISED AS IF THEY DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING?!?!?! I’VE SAID IT ONCE, I’LL SAY IT A THOUSAND TIMES…. SHADES OF THE 72′ DOLPHINS SQUAD! I FULLY EXPECT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LESS THAN A 19-0 FINAL RECORD AND SUPER BOWL TITLE. WITH THE LIKES OF RYAN TANNEHILL AS WELL AS LAMAR MILLER AND MIKE WALLACE I FEEL LIKE THAT’S THE BEST TRIPLETS SINCE EDGE PEYTON AND MARVIN!! MANY HAVE TRIED BUT NONE HAVE DONE IT SINCE THE 72′ DOLPHINS AND I’M SO HAPPY TO FINALLY SEE IT HAPPENING AGAIN WITH THE TEAM THAT ORIGINATED THE UNDEFEATED SEASON!!!

  3. Joey Callaway says:

    Peter, I really appreciate what you said. I think you definitely hit the nail on the head. My concerns are the offense. While performance was much improved, and made the key plays, against the Ragin Cajun offense of the N.O. Saints. Peter, perhaps we could trade contact info, my wife hates when I talk football, and would love to converse more about our beloved Phins!!!

    -Joey Callaway, Jr.

  4. Eric Carmichael says:

    Peter and Joey,

    Glad you are on the bandwagon but good night…don’t get weird!
    Thanks

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