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Sparano: Game vs. Arizona a 'must-win'

I have sometimes been accused of holding the Dolphins to a high standard that too often they have not been able to uphold.

Tony Sparano apparently believes there is nothing wrong with that. That is why he is putting pressure -- a lot of it -- on his team this weekend. How much pressure, you ask?

He believes this game against Arizona, only the second game in a 16-game season, is a must-win outing.

"I feel like when you lose your first game of the season that your second game is a must-win no matter what," Sparano said Friday afternoon. "I think every week in this league is a must-win in my mind, but when you’re trying to change a culture, there are no kind of wins.  They are all must-wins when you’re trying to change a culture. That being said, we know that last week we lost a ballgame that maybe we didn’t play as well as we could have in. I think that makes this game a whole lot more important, yes."

Um, rookie coach mistake.

I understand what Coach S is trying to say. He wants a sense of urgency out of his team, particularly because it didn't perform as well as it could have last week. But must-win?

A must-win game is one that means the difference between a playoff berth and going home for the offseason. A must-win game is one that avoids a winless season or gives you an undefeated season. A must-win game comes late in the season.

But the second game of the year? Nope.

Every game is important, but the Dolphins could lose this game and still have a good season. And what happens if they lose and the coach portrayed it as a must-win? What is he going to say afterward? The season is over because we didn't win the must-win game?

This is an important game because the coaching staff doesn't want the players to lose confidence. It's important because the Dolphins don't want fans to lose hope and believe this year is a scary extension of last season.

But must-win?


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first... what's wrong with playing with urgency?

" And what happens if they lose and the coach portrayed it as a must-win? What is he going to say afterward? The season is over because we didn't win the must-win game?"

LOLOL! Mando...... you should know the answer to your questions by now:

This is what will happen..... several seasons will be over for players that don't perform..... whether they win or lose this "must win game".

So I think the message is clear to the players on that team: if you have ANY chance of keeping your job you better play this game as if it's your last..... because it just might be.......


Most coaches in the NFL do not want to be 0-2 after the first 2 games. If Indy loses in Minnesota this weekend, just see how all the stats showing the number of 0-2 teams to ever rebound and make the playoffs surfaces. ESPN loves this stat and parades it all the time.

So besides being a sports writer, you've been an NFL coach too? Or do you assume because you watch and critique the games that you are an authority?

I admit on occasion I read your blogs. Some are decent, some so so, some just plain lacking. I would put this under the lacking category.

To criticize Sparano because he "doesn't want the players to lose confidence.” Maybe you liked it better under Cam and the "Fail Forward Fast" idea?

If it's a slow news day admit to it. But don't condemn the man for wanting to win.

Salguero,I'm not sure what "Must win " means in Mexican but you have no clue what it means in English.

Um, know-it-all journalist mistake: taking everything the coach says in a literal sense. Obviously, they can still have a (relatively) good season even if they lose Sunday. But as Sparano said multiple times, he's trying to change the culture, a culture that had become comfortable with losing. How do you get rid of that losing attitude? By making the players think that they HAVE to win. No moral victories, no "almost got em", just Ws. Hence, he's telling the players it's a must-win.

So besides being a sports writer, you've been an NFL coach too? Or do you assume because you watch and critique the games that you are an authority?

I admit on occasion I read your blogs. Some are decent, some so so, some just plain lacking. I would put this under the lacking category.

To criticize Sparano because he "doesn't want the players to lose confidence.” Maybe you liked it better under Cam and the "Fail Forward Fast" idea?

If it's a slow news day admit to it. But don't condemn the man for wanting to win.

Its all relative, really. But how many teams have overcome an 0-2 deficit to start the season and make the playoffs? Maybe it is a must game if they do not want to start a tailspin. And no, Mando. Must win games do not only occur at the end of the season. Maybe you don't think it is a must win game because you don't seem them competing this year, but as a coach you have to make the players beleive that you are coming in to compete every year, and yes, make the playoffs. You see, he may not be as pessimistic as you.

So you're saying that calling this game a "must win" is kind of like calling your blog a "must read?"

So beside being an Ohio Fin Fan this reader is a media critic also?

Or does Ohio Fin Fan assume because he can read and possibly write he is an authority?

I admit on occasion I read Ohio Fin Fan's posts. Some are decent, some so so, some just plain lacking. I would put this comment by Ohio Fin Fan under the lacking category.

To criticize Mando because he thinks it is questionable to call the second game of the season a must-win is really retarded. Maybe Ohio Fin Fan liked it better when fans such as himself thought Cam Cameron's "Fail Forward Fast" idea was smart.

Ohio Fin Fan, it is pretty stupid to be upset at the messenger when the coach makes a stupid comment.

Hey Derald, let me put this in a language I think you can understand you twit: F*CK YOU and all the bigoted h0m0s you roll with, OK amigo?

Good points Mando. Sparano is still learning.

you can tell its getting closr to game day - peple are geting testy

Shut up O!

Mando: Really? Do you actually think before you write or is simply that you didn`t have anything more to write today?

C`mon taking a hit to the coach just for saying It`s a must win.
You know, If you where an athlete or a player of any kind of sport, you`ll know that everygame is a MUST WIN!

Guess you`ve never played sports!!

how did Willi Chirino's post make it past herald filters? i thought this was a family paper!

Must win? Your coach is going home with his foot in mouth and tale tucked between his legs

Umm, this blog gets more and more questionable. Do they pay this guy for it, or is it done for fun on his spare time.

What is a coach suppose to say, it's a 50/50 proposition either you win or you lose. Should he say this is "must see how the players perform game."


Some of you guys need to chill, man. I'm feeling too much negativity on here.

Not sure if it wsa worth a blog, but Mando has a definite point. If this one is a must win, what is the next game if we lose -- a must. must win? You can only go to the well so often with this kind of psych ploy.

I like guys.

Sparano: This is a must win!
Dolphins lose in Arizona.
Sparano: Nevermind. Next week is a must win.
Dolphins lose in New England.
Sparano: Nevermind. Next week is a must win.
Dolphins have a bye weekend.
Sparano: I suck.

Its a must win in the sense that we got the Pats next week and the bye week after that. So this is our best shot to win a game before the calendar turns to October.

No MartinK, I'm saying blow it out your ass!

Mando, will you be on 790 the ticket on Saturday as usual? I appreciate your work on the radio

Armando, let's not overreact. He's just trying to instill some urgency in the guys. No need to question it.

When we had must win games, they came late in the season and they meant something. Calling this a must win is stupid.

The only thing I can say is way to go MOB...
and I'm glad to see the people are seeing it for what it is. It is as Tommya said you better win or your job is on the line., and why not? Do you not think Sparano's job is being looked at upstairs as well if this team starts off 0-2 with the same kind of effort that was given in game 1? You can bet on it. This is a harsh reality to the new regime. I say it's about time..

must win and win it is fins 24 cardinals 20 pennington 2 td's ronnie brown 1 td and over 150 on the ground.

hey dan marino im still waiting by my mailbox for the 560.00 you promised me come on bro!

HEY DERALD! When did Mexico change their language to Mexican? I could have swore they spoke Spanish. LOL! And exactly when did Cuba become a part of Mexico? Because I believe Armando is from Cuba and I'm sure he would like to know where they moved it incase he ever wants to visit. Thank you for the laugh.

Did we somehow sneak into the Super Bowl and is it being played this weekend? Calling anything must win when the rebuilding project is still incomplete is moronic.

And by the way, I don't think Sparano will be fired this week if he loses. That also is beyond stupid.

Mando, whatever you get paid, it definitely is not enough, my brother. I hope you don't even waste your time reading some of these dumbass comments.

Winning against a division rival was a quote "MUST WIN!!!!"

Tony we arent playing in the NFC anymorez

Sorry, Mando but you are wrong. Tony Sparano is absolutely CORRECT and is keeping it as real as you can. This is absolutely a MUST WIN. If we go 0-2 that "does" do something to a team. History doesn't lie and coaches know more than columnists when it comes to the sport they coach compared to the one you write about.

If this team loses on Sunday, then this team will cause a dominoe effect that will all but ensure or put too much stacked against yourself that will ensure that we will not make the playoffs. So, yes, Tony Sparano was right, this is a MUST WIN if MIA is to make any type of noise this season.

....also, people need to stop thinking that "their" interpretation of a word is the absolute and all world interpretation. It's not. Tony Sparano's defintion of a MUST WIN game was self explanatory to what he meant. So for someone to say, "No, Tony, a MUST WIN is 'only' a playoff game, or a late season game..." Please.

It's just as condescending and ignorant as Mr Gibson on ABC News telling Sarah Palin what "he" or "his colleagues" believed the "Bush Doctrine" was...

The idiot doesn't have the capacity to realize that the "Bush Doctrine" is a media created phrase. It isn't anything found in the Bible or anything...it was a "media created" statement of our President's world view. Please. What an idiot. Well, similiar concept here. Mando, sorry, what 'you' think a MUST WIN is, isn't what TONY feels a MUST WIN is. He believes that "this" game is a MUST WIN.

This is literally a "must win" game for most of the team.

Mando and many of you guys posting don't get it:

If you are a starter on this team and you play poorly and the team loses.... well then you'll likely end up at the bottom of the depth chart.... or you're gone like Boomer.

If you are a bench/special teams guy and you play poorly and the team loses.... well you're gone.

So yeah, this is a "must win", the players on this team know just what Sparano is talking about...... even if Mando doesn't.

It is a must win! C'mon Mando!!! What the hey, are you a Dolphin fan? Geezus Christ...who wants to start 0-2 against two mediocre teams. It aint like we've played the Steelers and Colts for god's sake. Deep down inside the coaches and players want to win. They want to surprise...and really deep deep down inside they'd like to pull off a miracle and get to the playoffs. Why shouldn't we believe at 0-1. Half the league is 0-1. It's not like we are 0-9. Remember last year? C'mon Armando....give us a break!!! The fans, players and coaches would like to believe this is a must win. I like that kind of challenge. What do we have to lose? Let's go out and play like there is no tomorrow. Then do it again next week. Armando, you are a journalist first and maybe a tepid fan second. You cannot relate to us die hard Dolphin fans.... Those of us who stick with them thru thick and thin. Those of us who remember Csonka, Greise, Marino, Clayton, Duper, Moore, the Blackwood brothers etc. You are a good journalist Armando...but you are not passionate about your subject. Only then can you be great!

Tony wants a win. I want a win. Why question him? This team needs a little pressure put on them. If they start against the Cardinals like they did against the jets we can forget about winning a game for a while. If we play with urgency and maybe dominate the line we could win this game and build some confidence heading into New England.Nobody knows what they are without Brady. First though, we've got to win and that's all it's about. Everyone is mad 'cause it was a lame thing to write about. Mando i like your blog and i'm not hating, but really? Why even write about this?

A must win? No, not yet but they need to play better, more consistently and cut down on mistakes. Everyone from the QB to Oline to Dline to WR to DB's and coaches has to step it up a notch and just maybe the Fins can pull out a win. :)

Bill Parcells once called Glenn "she". When everyone found out that Glenn was in fact not a she I wonder how they handled it the next week. Lets not take everything the coach says so literally. He's trying to make a point about urgency. Wanny brought a lobster trap into the meeting room and hung it from the ceiling to illustrate to the players that it was a trap game (sigh). I prefer the must win phrase. Like Tony said, "every game in the NFL is a must win" and coaches are going to use any motivational tool available to get that win. "The season is over because we didn't win the must win game?" No he obviously won't say that but now that Mando has asked what he might say here are a few choices. 1. Keep your heads up guys, it's going to take a while but we will get there. 2. You guys played a hell of a game and I'm very proud of you, we'll get em' next time. 3. Okay guys we played better this week but we know we have a lot of work to do so lets take tomorrow off and get back at it on Tuesday. Notice how I didn't say anything about the "must win" thing? That's because as a coach you don't have to make excuses for the things you say and players don't take a coach as literal as the media and fans. They're adults and they realize that the coach is trying to get the best out of them. If their collective psyche is so fragile that they can't recover from the coach using a cliched phrase then they have bigger problems. These guys are big boys and I just can't see anyone walking around going 'Oh no, coach said this was a must win and we lost,,,AAAHHHHHHHH we're doomed!' Sparano is an emotional guy and he seems to wear his heart on his sleeve, he's going to say things without thinking so if I were Sparano I would just treat the media like Belichick does. "YES, No, maybe, I wasn't aware of that, next question". Because the more you talk the more words and phrases there are for the media to pick apart and analyze to death. He's just fueling the bonfire that is the media and Mando is just doing his job.

Also, we will lose on Sunday because A. Arizona has momentum from last week and is playing their home opener. B. The team is traveling across the country to play. C. Their wideouts are far better than our DBs. D. Warner has been in his system longer than Penny in his. E. The Cards defense is pretty darn good F. We lost Donald Thomas and have no quality depth. G. The Phins are rebuilding and just aren't as good as the Cards right now. Boy I hope I'm wrong.

it isn't really a must win game but if we lose this game any hope for a respectable season is over. we won't win five games this year if we lose against an average arizona team.

I actually find Sparano's comment refreshing, and Mando's criticism of it drearily predictable. And two-faced, as usual--on radio Mando's been talking about how impt. this game is, and how an 0-2 hole will lead to a repeat of last yrs. debacle. But heaven forfend our coach speak forthrightly, and its a rookie mistake.

Let's see, some dope goes straight to the bigoted comments, others call for my firing, others think say the blog sucks even though they're on here all the time. I can handle all that. I have thick skin.

But when someone compares me to Charles Gibson who I just got done watching ... now that REALLY crosses the line, ok? Don't EVER compare me to Charlie Gibson!!!!

Anyway, I'll be on 790 The Ticket Saturday 11-1. You can listen live on your computer if you're not in So.Fla. @ 790theticket.com.

If you don't agree with me that this is NOT a must-win, then call and argue your point. 1-888-790-3776 is the toll free number.

And don't EVER compare me to Gibson!!!

Coach S is absolutely right, its a must win game for us, we dont wanna be 0-2 and travel to NE, doesnt matter if brady plays or not

Would you prefer falling forward fast?

Will one of you Sparano butt sniffers please tell what you are going to say if the Dolphins lose what the coach has identified as his first must-win game?

He will have failed in his first must-win game. That alone is reason not to say it and when you consider he's got a bad team on his side with no ability to back up his big talk, it shows inexperience by him.

Mando, you're absolutely right on this one.

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