The Miami Herald

Inconsistent Miami Dolphins a hard team to figure out

Are the Dolphins a bad team just catching a lucky tailwind?

Or are they a good team finally headed in the direction they deserve after a lot of lousy breaks?

And will it all blow up in their faces in Dallas in four days?

Those are the questions that still burn after Sunday’s 35-8 lacing of the Buffalo Bills.

No answers are handy. But at least it’s a bright and cheerful Monday after three consecutive victories deliriously hoist the Dolphins out of their 0-7 rut.

Like the little girl in the childhood poem, when the Dolphins are bad they are simply horrid.

But, ah, when they are good, like now, they are surely spiffy — especially the defense that hasn’t given up a touchdown in 12 straight quarters.

Yep, the same defense that held the Bills 0 for 12 on third-down conversions.

Grade the Dolphins a C overall, anyway, which isn’t bad considering they went F for their first seven games.

Finally getting healthy, they outscored two of their past three opponents by 65-11.

Of course you’re right — that won’t lay up a nickel in Big D. But Sunday at Sun Life, at least, the Dolphins made a pretty good team look pretty bad.

“We’re playing better,” tight end Anthony Fasano put it after catching the first of Matt Moore’s three touchdown passes. “The defense put us in some good spots. I wouldn’t want to be in an offense playing them.”

That defense is the one element most responsible for reversing the sentiment about coach Tony Sparano.

Three games ago Sparano was a cinch fire. Today, he’s a candidate for Comeback Coach of the Year — with the codicil that that could go up in smoke in Dallas, or any time thereafter. The likeliest way to look at Sparano’s position is that he’s in much better shape than he was, but still living dangerously.

You may not want to credit Sparano. However, if you’re going to blame him for the losses you have to give him a hand for the victories.

Meanwhile, I wouldn’t presume to try to read owner Stephen Ross’ mind as to what he has in mind for Sparano. There’s room for latitude about Sparano’s performance — both ways, up and down. Besides, coaches usually get too much of both credit and blame.

Whatever, Sparano’s Dolphins were better than 0-7 when they were 0-7. But they might not be quite as good as their 3-0 since then.

Again, we’ll find out a lot more in Dallas. Out there, more picks by Nolan Carroll and Yeremiah Bell, Sunday’s interceptors, would be huge.

The Dolphins need to keep retaliating the way they brought TDs after Bills field goals. Moore has to keep cranking after his latest three TD chunks. “Nothing really fazes Matt,” Sparano said.

Over on the losers’ side, Chan Gailey said something meant to be about the Bills but really was more about the Dolphins.

Someone asked Gailey if the Bills’ three consecutive losses and four defeats in their past five games feel like “a runaway train.”

And Gailey replied, “A runaway train is 0-8 — that’s a runaway train.”

Hey, the Dolphins came close to getting hit by that train before they got on the right track, which is where they are right now, which they’ll ride into Dallas.

Not to make light of what the Dolphins did to the Bills or pump up a 6-4 Dallas record, but the Boys will be a bigger test than Sunday was.




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