Sure, they could be sitting here today at 4-1 if not for a missed field goal against the Jets and a fourth-down stop they couldn’t come up with against the Cardinals. But that’s for yesterday. This is a team about today and tomorrow.
The reality is that the Dolphins are 2-3 with a home game coming up against St. Louis and a real chance to be standing at 3-3 at the bye week. That’s what you call progress.
There are those who expected a letdown against Cincinnati, expecting the Dolphins to be teetering in confidence after back-to-back heartbreaking overtime losses. Not these Dolphins. Not this year. The defense keeps surging. The rookie quarterback keeps improving. Little plays keep adding up. It is clear after five games that these Dolphins are to be taken seriously. Just ask the shell-shocked Cincinnati Bengals.
What can we take from a 17-13 victory over the Bengals, a team that came in with a 3-1 record? So much. So many areas coming through. So many players stepping up.
Foremost, the Dolphins did not squander another fourth-quarter lead. They made some plays, a few big first downs, and then got a game-clinching interception by safety
I’ve got to start with
But it doesn’t just stop with Starks. This defense continues to step up in ways that I never expected. We know about the front seven, but how about the play recently of cornerback
This defense has become the story of these Dolphins. Teams aren’t even trying to run very much on them. More often than not, it’s turning into a wasted play. This rushing defense, now having gone 19 games without giving up a 100-yard rusher, isn’t a story of one or two stars as much as it is a group of players knowing their roles and working splendidly together.
As for the pass defense, it came through in a big way against a talented, multi-dimensional Bengals offense. The Jones interception was a fitting ending, the third takeaway for this defense.
The bottom line: As long as this defense plays this well, what team can’t the Dolphins stay with?
Most significant about this game was that Tannehill did not throw an interception, did not make any costly mistakes. I like how he operates, how he urges on his teammates, how he seems to be developing some real leadership skills at this very young age. And I especially like how he rarely throws a bad pass and how so many of his passes are exactly where they need to be.
Is it good to be standing at 2-3 right now? It’s not where the Dolphins wanted to be, not where Joe Philbin hoped they would be. But when you consider how they got here, when you consider all the positives that have surfaced, when you evaluate what they did to the Bengals on Sunday, it is clear that this is a team on the rise.
Can’t wait to see what happens next.