How does a team that beat Cincinnati on the road lose at Buffalo? How does a team that beat Seattle at home get blown out by Tennessee at home?
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Miami Dolphins.
They are nothing if not inconsistent. About the only thing they do consistently is play to the level of the opposition.
They gave the Patriots and 49ers good games the past two weeks. At no time did they seem totally out-classed.
Yet they lost to Arizona in the fourth week of the season and the Cardinals haven't won a game since.
What does that tell you about the Dolphins? What does it say when a team plays up or down to its competition?
Well, first of all, assume nothing the next couple of weeks when the Dolphins play horrible Jacksonville and terrible Buffalo. And don't discount Miami the final week of the season against elite New England.
Also, it says this:
The Dolphins are the ultimate rudderless team. They have mediocre talent which would suggest they be a mediocre team. But most mediocre teams play well against teams with inferior talent and cannot play well against teams with excellent talent because they're outgunned.
Yet -- again -- the Dolphins can stay with the Pats and 49ers and beat Seattle. But they get dominated at Buffalo and by Tennessee.
Reader Tyson Crowley suggests and I agree, this kind of rollercoaster performance depending on the opponent, speaks to poor leadership on the team. Teams with good leadership do not let down against inferior competition and play like that inferior competition. Teams with good leadership play to a certain level -- be it high or low -- and maintain that level most of the season regardless of the competition.
They don't lose to Buffalo and look terrible doing it one week and beat playoff-bound Seattle and look great doing it the next.
"Obviously, when you’re so up and down, it’s a little tough and obviously we’re all judged, at the end of the day, we’re judged by winning (and) how we win and the amount of games that we win," Reggie Bush said today. "Obviously, it’s not fun when you’re not winning and you’re not achieving the goals that you set out to achieve at the beginning of the season. So it has been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster."
Oh, and teams with good leadership don't ride emotional rollercoasters. They focus on the process of winning a game week to week without major spikes or letdowns of emotion.
The Dolphins need to focus more on the process and less on the results. If they do that, maybe the results will come in more consistent manner.