Monday, December 6, 2010

Process of Self-Elimination

December 6, 2010

If there were an equation to determine how a team reaches the playoffs it would look something like this:

A) Take care of business at home +  B) Defeat division rivals +  C) Win at least one statement game = Playoffs

Now if you apply this equation to the Miami Dolphins you can take a large permanent marker and scratch out all the variables listed.

The Dolphins are 1-5 at home, so that eliminates part A. They hold a 1-2 record versus divisional opponents, so there goes part B. And they've failed to defeat any playoff-contending teams, so "X" out part C too.

Thus, we have the process of self-elimination.

With all but statistical possibility pressed against the Dolphins playoffs hopes, Miami must now look at the rest of the season with next year in mind. Sadly enough for Dol-Fans, this is a situation their team faces more times than not around this stage of the regular season.

The "Early Offseason"

Nevertheless, there are always positives that come with this "early offseason" outlook.

First off, the team can begin making judgment calls on particular players' futures and whether or not they are worth keeping. For Miami, positions like quarterback, running back and defensive line come to mind as areas to focus on. That means that the final four games will be a proving ground for players like Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown and Paul Soliai.

The biggest question facing the front office is what position is of greatest need of improvement for this team. With no second round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft (for now at least), the Dolphins will have to make sure their first round pick counts. With that said, this could be the most important draft for the Fins in terms of franchise-changing potential.

Let's not forget that the coaching staff will also be under a watchful eye as no jobs are guaranteed in the National Football League. In other words, Tony Sparano and Dan Henning will need to show their worth as well.

However, the best part about this situation is the clarity that it provides everyone with. That is, with the post season out of the conversation, the players must now play for pride and their spot on the roster. This let's us know what the team, as a whole and as individuals, is made of.

Stay tuned for final analyses of the Fins as the season winds down, along with the first glimpses of the 2011 offseason and the possible trades, free agent signings and draft picks it has in store for Miami.

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