Amid all the venom spewed toward Ted Ginn Jr. and Gibril Wilson and the strange play-calling and use of timeouts during the New Orleans loss, it became kind of easy to miss perhaps the most significant fallout from Sunday's 46-34 loss.
The Dolphins are now the only NFL team starting two rookie cornerbacks, according to the depth charts at NFL.com.
Fact is, only the Rams and Jaguars have even one rookie cornerback starting for them and that's Bradley Fletcher, who has started three of seven games for St. Louis, and Derek Cox, who has started all six games for the Jags.
So Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, Miami's starting corners Sunday against the New York Jets, are pretty special.
But beyond beyond special, it says something about these young men that no one is having a major anxiety attack that the Dolphins are starting the two rookies the remainder of the season. Some folks, in fact, are even eager to see it because that's what was likely going to be happen next year and beyond anyway.
That the time table has been accelarated by Will Allen's blown out knee is a shame because Allen is a good player.
But it's not a disaster.
Smith has started every game this season for Miami. He's given up some plays and does not have an interception. But he is coming off perhaps his best game of his still-young NFL career.
"Sean Smith’s byline [Sunday] was 69 plays with only three minuses," coach Tony Sparano said. "Three minuses in the game. These guys are playing at pretty good levels."
Indeed, Davis has been sharing time with Smith, playing about 40 percent of the plays to Smith's 60 percent. And Davis has also played quite well during that time. He has an interception which he returned for a touchdown against Buffalo. He saved a touchdown on special teams against the Saints.
Davis has so far lived up to his draft status even as Smith has outperformed his draft status.
So what will we see with the rooks the next 10 games?
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know the answer to that question," Sparano said. "What I mean by that is, they need to mature really fast. I don’t know, I don’t really know if they’re equipped for 10 games in a row of doing full-time duty without having Will Allen out there with those two guys being able to play 60-40, or whatever it was that we were going with those guys.
"But I would say this: they’re both in good shape, and they’re both smart players, don’t have a lot of mental errors, they both like football, they like to compete ... You're asking me long haul and what I'm saying is sometimes some of these young guys are ready to check out around Thanksgiving. I’m thinking we need to do a great job with these two guys of refocusing and understanding that we do have ten of these left."
I would say that just as fans and media have been critical of some coaching and, yes, personnel decisions of late (see the first paragraph concerning Wilson and the time out situation) one must also be fair. And in all fairness, the personnel department apparently did excellent work with Davis and Smith.
And the coaches did an excellent job in recognizing they needed to develop both rookies and not just the better of the two. The coaches get a kudos for playing Davis even while Smith was starting. The platoon system that caused every second or third series seemed odd for a while.
But it got both players game experience. It got both guys used to the speed of the game.
And now, as a result, the hole the Miami secondary finds itself in after losing Allen for the remainder of the year seems more like a pothole than a grave.