Miami Dolphins are poised to let down their fans once again


Once upon a time, there was a little boy who grew up in the tiny North Florida town of Interlachen in the 1970s; whose first real NFL memory was of Don Shula’s 1972 Miami Dolphins when they were the only professional franchise in the Sunshine State; who adopted the Dolphins as his favorite team; who loved Mercury Morris, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Larry Little, Paul Warfield, Jake Scott, Nick Buoniconti, Garo Yepremian and the the rest of those iconic Miami players; who couldn’t wait to wear his Dolphins T-shirt to elementary school the next day after Miami beat the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl to complete their unprecedented perfect season.

The little boy stuck with the Dolphins throughout grade school, middle school, high school, college and into adulthood, hoping to once again experience that pride he felt during those back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1972-73.

He never did.

The Dolphins made it to a couple of other Super Bowls in the early 1980s, but lost to the Redskins and 49ers. Even though they had Dan Marino – the greatest pure passer in NFL history – they could never recapture the glory of the early ‘70s. Every season, it seemed, the Dolphins found a way to disappoint that little boy.

Well, that little boy is now an old, bald, cynical sports columnist who is here today to tell DolFans to prepare yourself for one of your biggest letdowns yet. I fear this year’s Dolphins, who showed so much promise just a few weeks ago, are in the midst of folding like a Walgreens lawn chair.

I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. It appears the Dolphins built up the hope of their fans by fattening up on a bunch of moonpies and cupcakes during the course of a five-game midseason winning streak in which they beat the Steelers, Lions, Browns, Bears and Texans.

During those five games against losing teams, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looked like an MVP candidate and first-year coach Mike McDaniel was being touted as the NFL’s latest offensive “genius.” Now, though, the Dolphins have lost two straight against the 49ers and Chargers in which Tua has looked like Jameis Winston and McDaniel has called plays like Adam Gase.

The rumblings around the league are that opposing defenses have already figured out McDaniel’s offense by taking away the middle of the field and forcing Tua to make tougher throws to the outside. Over the last two weeks Tua has completed 47% of his passes, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and is averaging a 72.5 passer rating. Last week against a subpar Chargers defense missing five starters, Tua finished 10 of 28 for 145 yards.

And now comes Saturday night’s game at Buffalo in a potential snowstorm against the division-leading Bills. Tua, McDaniel and the Dolphins are acting and talking like it’s no big deal to be playing in blizzard-like conditions, but it sure feels like they are whistling past the graveyard.

McDaniel was seen earlier this week walking through the Dolphins’ training facility wearing a shirt that read, “I wish it were colder.” Sure you do, Coach. Is that why your team’s sideline included bench heaters during Sunday night’s loss against the Chargers, despite the temperature only being in the mid 50s? Don’t kid yourself, the Dolphins are softer than Katy Perry’s lips.

Meanwhile, Tua claims he has complete confidence that he can throw the ball in the snow. Why? Because of a recent trip to visit his brother Taulia – the quarterback at the University Maryland – where Tua practiced throwing the ball with some of Taulia’s Terrapin teammates.

“I didn’t feel any effects of throwing in the snow,” Tua said.

Unfortunately, playing catch in the snow with some of your brother’s buddies isn’t quite like playing in an NFL road game in a blizzard against one of the best teams in the league. If the Dolphins lose, it will be their third straight loss and they will be – as that great football analyst Tom Petty once said – “free fallin’ out into nothing.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Dolphins, but I don’t passionately pull for them anymore. They have let me down too many times over the decades. The final straw for me came during the 2000 playoffs when I had moved to Jacksonville to become the sports columnist at the Florida Times-Union.

Many of my friends in Jacksonville knew I was a longtime Dolphins fan and mocked me unmercifully when the Jaguars dismantled the ‘Phins 62-7 in what turned out to be the last game Marino ever played and the last game Jimmy Johnson ever coached.

It was also the last time I ever really pulled for the Miami Dolphins.

I miss that little boy from Interlachen.

Email me at Hit me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2



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