I covered the University of Miami football team in the mid-to-late 1980s when they were rolling to the point they had more talent than today's Dolphins. (It's not an argument so don't even think about it because today's Dolphins don't have anyone the caliber of Jerome Brown, Michael Irvin, Bennie Blades, Brett Perriman, Vinny Testaverde, Brian Blades, Russell Maryland, Cortez Kennedy, Melvin Bratton, Alonzo Highsmith, Dan Sileo and others.)
Anyway, one of the rituals the I and other reporters covering those Canes had to endure was listening to Jimmy Johnson and later Dennis Erickson gush about how dangerous or deceptively good clearly overmatched, no-chance-having teams like East Carolina or Cincinnati or San Jose State really were if you looked really deep down and studied their tape really, really hard.
Those coaches were simply trying to convince the media, and by extension, their players that the team they were about to murder should not be underestimated.
Well, I've gone from covering that University of Miami team back then to East Carolina today.
That's right. This week the Dolphins are playing the role of East Carolina or San Jose State to the New York Giants' version of those former day Canes.
NYG coach Tom Coughlin has apparently taken a page out of the old coaching handbook and tried to convince his team the Dolphins are really, really good if you grab a microscope and study them for a long time.
“‘Respect all and fear none’ is the approach we take,” Coughlin said. “What we are trying to do is be concerned with our team and making sure that our team takes our execution to another level. We want to eliminate any lull in our play.”
Coughlin is basically trying to keep his team from being bored by the prospect of playing the winless Dolphins. He's trying to make sure his team doesn't play down to the opposition. He's trying to make sure his team plays its game and if it does, there is no way they can lose.
The message is obviously resonating in the New York locker room where quarterback Eli Manning is repeating the marching orders for the week:
“[Miami] could easily have several wins," Manning said. "Little things have prevented them from winning some tight games. A lot of them have come down to the wire. They’ve played teams tight. They’ve played hard. They have a lot of talent. A lot of teams have had trouble with them."
The Dolphins have a lot of talent?
Could that talent be at quarterback, where Matt Moore last year helped the Carolina Panthers secure a record good enough to have the first pick in this year's draft?
Could that talent be at running back, where Reggie Bush has never been the impact player he was billed to become coming out of college as the No. 2 pick in the draft?
Could that great talent be responsible for Miami's 0-6 record?
Let's face it, folks, the Dolphins have become something worse than a league-wide joke. They've become a team other teams have to lie about to make it seem like they'll be challenged. They've become a team opposing coaches fear their players will dismiss or overlook.
That is not, by the way, a badge of distinction.
If you look at the Giants, coming off a bye, getting healthy, in first place in the NFC East, the situation seems almost hopeless for Miami. I felt the Dolphins had a better chance of winning the opener against New England than they do of winning Sunday.
Before the opener, at least, people believed the Dolphins defense could contain New England. People had hope Miami's quarterback could put up points because he'd shown promise in the preseason.
Where do these Dolphins give hope now?
Better said, to size up the current state of Miami's football fortunes try to complete this sentence in the comments section:
"The Dolphins can beat the Giants on Sunday if ..........."
I love reading good fiction.