Don’t Let Go Of The Excitement Yet, Dolphins Fans

I know the build up from a long NFL off-season is like a volcano on the brink of eruption.  For most fans, waiting to feel the euphoric verification that your team really did win the off-season is too much to handle.  This is the first time in years that the Dolphins have even been mentioned by the national media, by ESPN, by NFL Network, and others.  We’re used to the odd report of ridicule that just causes you to shake your head.  But no, this off-season our team went out and spent $60 million on Mike Wallace. Our team convinced Dannelle Ellerbe to sign with the Miami Dolphins and not the Ravens, fresh off a Super Bowl championship.  Our team traded up to the 3rd overall pick and selected the best defensive player in the draft.  Our team has been the news this year.  For once, we, as fans, don’t feel shoved into the corner with the after-thoughts of the league: the Cardinals, Browns, Chargers, Jaguars of the league.  “No, this year we’re legitimate,” we thought to ourselves.

All the pent-up excitement that we couldn’t realize was getting emotionally heavy.  Despite what the national media says, despite the empty seats at Sun Life Stadium in recent years, we’re a passionate fan base.  Couple that with the Miami Heat’s back-to-back NBA Championships and it’s too much to grasp.  Thoughts of Championship Town start creeping into the backs of our minds.  We start reasoning with ourselves as to why the Dolphins won’t be the next team in a long line of big off-season spenders who don’t perform in the regular season.  Heck, we saw a light at the end of the tunnel with shadows that we could almost make out: a franchise quarterback for the first time in 15 years, an explosive offense, a dominant defense, Playoffs? Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?

This is a team who couldn’t get 60,000 fans out to home games last season, but saw almost 23,000 show up to a training camp scrimmage.  That is more than the New England Patriots had at their scrimmage, and almost four times as many fans as the New York Jets had.  The core of our fan base in Miami, around the country, and around the world has started to show signs of life and believing.  We have been ready for the volcano to explode!

And then last night happened.  Lamar Miller fumbles the first offensive snap.  Ryan Tannehill forgot how to throw slants, the defense looked like swiss cheese. Not one turnover was forced, the focus of camp thus far.  Wamp wamp wamp.

We were ready for a nuclear blast, and instead sat on a whoopie cushion.  We are now deflated.  We’re angry.  And we’re let down.  Except we forget:

  • The team has been practicing for two weeks, and is incorporating 9 or 10 new starters.
  • Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline didn’t play last night.  Neither did Dannelle Ellerbe, Randy Starks, Olivier Vernon, or Jared Odrick
  • The rest of the starters played less than 10 snaps, and the final starting offensive line group hasn’t been finalized yet.
  • The coaches did not game plan for the Cowboys, nor did the players review any film.
We forget that the Hall of Fame game, despite its national attention, is a week before the pre-season actually starts.  What we watched last night was a glorified practice of situational experimentation against the Cowboys’ experimentation.  If there was ever proof that a pre-season game does not matter, it was last night.

The Cowboys had their fair share of mistakes as well.  They sat starters too.  Also don’t forget that their two first half touchdowns came off of turnover mistakes by the Dolphins that will not (shouldn’t, hopefully not) happen once this group gets more used to playing with each other.  Future opponents this pre-season will make the same mistakes against the Dolphins.  The Dolphins will take advantage of said mistakes and it shall be grand.

Except we’ll still be 0-0 until we’re done playing the Browns in week 1.

Don’t let the air out of your bubble just yet.  Keep that excitement, and resume that ridiculous fanatical build-up of expectations.  Enjoy the process that is pre-season, and look forward to the whooping we’re gonna give the Browns when everything counts!

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