Are Dolphins the 3-0 team that opened season, or the 0-3 team since that time? – The Denver Post


There’s a well-known phrase in sports that says, “You are what your record says you are.”

As the Miami Dolphins have gone from a perfect 3-0 to a mediocre 3-3, the legitimacy of that saying is up for debate, even on the team.

You could point to lots of reasons for the current three-game losing streak — injuries, the defense not producing turnovers, the porous pass protection, inconsistent special teams play, many things.

So, who are the Dolphins as we make our way through Week 7 of the NFL season? Are they the team some thought could be AFC title contenders after they defeated New England, Baltimore and Buffalo, or are they the team that had lackluster fourth-quarter showings in losses to Cincinnati, the New York Jets and Minnesota?

Well, the answer is kind of complicated.

Some, such as running back Chase Edmonds, believe the ‘You are what your record says you are’ phrase is legit.

“I think when you get into ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda,’ you start finding a way to make excuses for yourself,” he said. “So I’m a big believer in, ‘You are what the record says you are.’ “

Other players, such as wide receiver Tyreek Hill, don’t necessarily believe it’s true.

“I don’t make excuses for the games that were losses,” Hill said. “But what I will say is I know that this team is better than the scoreboard.”

Still others say the phrase is irrelevant because it’s so early in the season.

Coach Mike McDaniel has always said he’s a process-oriented guy as opposed to a results-oriented guy.

“As far as, ‘You are what your record says you are,’ I think there’s truth in that,” he said. “Because to spend time saying, ‘Well, but this, that, or the other’ is a fool’s errand.

“However, I think teams are whatever they define themselves that day. I think the Miami Dolphins are as good as their Wednesday.”

McDaniel doesn’t favor basing what will eventually be an entire season’s worth of work in the first six weeks.

He pointed out last year, when he was offensive coordinator for San Francisco, they won their first two games, then went on a four-game losing streak, and ended up playing in the NFC Championship game. He also pointed out in 2015, when he was with the Atlanta Falcons, they started 5-0 but finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. In other words, he’s seen it both ways.

“I think people clinging to what their record says they are might be not quite focused on the job at hand, which is continuing to get better so you play your best football at the end of the season, which is what good teams end up doing,” he said.

Defensive tackle John Jenkins, a 10-year veteran who was on the 2020 Chicago Bears team that had a six-game losing streak in the middle of the season but still made the playoffs with an 8-8 record, said the Dolphins are a good team.

“We’re a good team regardless of the situation that we’re dealing with,” he said. “We’re a good team. It’s still early in the season. I take it day by day, week by week.”

To a man, the Dolphins say injuries aren’t a legitimate reason for their losses. They say every team has injuries.

And the Dolphins will take a major step in the injury recovery process when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns from concussion protocol to start against Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

As I’ve stated, at some point the injuries do become a legitimate reason for losing. No team has an endless supply of talented players.

As for whether the Dolphins are the team their record says they are, yeah, you have to believe that’s true because it’s not just the injuries that have caused this three-game losing streak. There’s also the minus-7 turnover margin, the 197 yards in penalties the past two games, and errors such as dropped passes and blown assignments in the secondary and offensive line.

They still don’t have an offensive identity aside from big plays involving Hill or fellow wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, and they don’t have a defensive identity. No one yet knows what makes this team go (aside from Hill). So, at this point, yeah, they’re a legit .500 team.

But here’s the good news. The Dolphins might not be a .500 team after 10 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 16 weeks. At any of those points they could be well over .500 just as they could be a game or two below .500.

We all give teams checkpoints during the season. The Dolphins were great at the first checkpoint. After four games, previously the first quarter of the season (when it was a 16-game season and not 17 games, such as now), they were 3-1.

Now, they’re 3-3. But there’s no panic, no self-doubt, no rush to make major changes.

“It’s the second quarter of the season,” linebacker Elandon Roberts said. “On Sundays it shows ain’t no games won in the second quarter. You could have a fourth-quarter comeback easily.”

Or a second-quarter comeback, starting with Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.



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