This time of the NFL season is interesting for teams such as the Dolphins and Lions only in that we can look toward the future.
And in looking at the future of the Dolphins and Lions, today's opponent, we know that both teams have much work to do to become playoff relevant. But their work must come in vastly different areas because the rosters are constructed so, so differently.
The Dolphins, you see, are a team of plow horses. They have a bunch of guys that can play pretty well, play pretty hard, and usually try to give a good performance when they step on the field. The Dolphins don't have a lot of terrible players, which is good.
But the Dolphins also do not have a lot of incredible, superstar players. And that is bad.
That is why after last week's loss to Buffalo at home, Tony Sparano lamented his team making no dynamic plays. What do you expect when you don't have many dynamic players? That is why offensive coordinator Dan Henning during the week echoed those remarks and expanded on them, saying the Dolphins lack dynamic players on offense, defense and special teams.
Hence, no 80-yard bombs or runs on offense, no fumble or interception returns 60 yards for a score on defense, no punt or kickoff TDs.
The Dolphins are a solid, but not a big-play, big-results team. And that is why they are 7-7.
They have a different makeup.
The Lions have a lot of holes in their roster. Their offensive line is leaky. Their running back corps -- traditionally a team strength -- is a weakness. And, quick, name me that young up-and-coming star linebacker on their roster? Ain't got one.
The Lions have myriad holes.
But the Lions have something the Dolphins lack: Dynamic players.
Ndamukong Suh? Dynamic.
Calvin Johnson? Dynamic.
Matthew Stafford? You might not agree, but trust me, he's dynamic.
Louis Delmas? Dynamic.
Brandon Pettigrew? Dynamic.
Stefan Logan? Dynamic on special teams.
The Lions have budding superstars at very important play-making positions and they have a freak in Suh who has turned the defensive tackle spot into a play-making position.
I'm not here to sing the praises of Detroit's dynamic players. You can look up their accomplishments for yourselves. But I know some of you will argue Stafford is not dynamic because, after all, he cannot even finish an NFL season without getting injured.
That's true. But perhaps if he had a solid offensive line in front of him he wouldn't be getting used like a rag doll by opposing defensive players and that might keep him in games.
When he is in games -- not today because he's still injured -- Stafford has shows signs that, frankly, Miami's young QB Chad Henne has not. Stafford has 6 TD passes this year to only 1 INT.
With Stafford in the lineup, the Lions scored TDs in nine of 10 trips into the red zone. Compare that to the FG kicking Dolphins and you see the difference.
He's got much work to do. But if he can stay healthy, he's got the goods. Compare that to Miami where the Dolphins have a QB that is hard to keep out of the lineup due to health concerns, but everyone is asking whether or not he has the goods.
I figured you might have questions about Logan as well. He is the only NFL player ranked in the top four in both kickoff returns and punt return average. His 105-yard KO return TD against St. Louis earlier this year is the longest in the league so far in 2010. He had a kick return of 50 yards or more in three of four games in October. He is, um, dynamic.
So here is the question: Is it easier to fill a roster of good-but-not-great players around your handful of dynamic players? Or is it harder to find a handful of dyanmaic players to lift your roster of good-but-not-great?
Is it harder to find a dozen or so plow horses or a handful of thoroughbreds?
I don't know.
I do know the Lions (4-10) are going to be drafting much higher than the Dolphins (7-7). I don't know it is easier to find plenty of plow horses and even more thoroughbreds higher in each round than it is to find superstars in the middle of the draft.
I know it is not impossible for Miami to find stars -- I mean, serious, honest-to-goodness dynamic stars -- in the middle of rounds, but I cannot remember the last time that happened. And sorry guys, Vontae Davis is a good player. He's solid. But dynamic?
Not so far.
We can discuss this further during the live blog. It will be going on during Miami's sold out meeting with the Lions. It begins in the comments section below just before game time.
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