Miami Dolphins

There have been a few changes since a 3-0 Dolphins team finished with a winning record

After a touchdown in his first Dolphins regular season game, Sept. 8, 2002, running back Ricky Williams is congratulated by Randy McMichael, who the Dolphins drafted with the fourth round pick that came from New Orleans in the trade for Willliams.
After a touchdown in his first Dolphins regular season game, Sept. 8, 2002, running back Ricky Williams is congratulated by Randy McMichael, who the Dolphins drafted with the fourth round pick that came from New Orleans in the trade for Willliams. Miami Herald

Playing a winless West Coast team with no pass rush that’s traveled 2,500 miles for a 1 p.m. East Coast kickoff, the Dolphins should be 3-0 by sundown Sunday after spanking the Oakland Raiders.

Do you know how long it’s been since the Dolphins were 3-0? Not as long as you’d think — 2013, under Joe Philbin (or, as former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder called him, “Lil’ Queasy”). They quickly found their level, lost four in a row and completed the disintegration by losing their final two games to finish 8-8.

When was the last time the Dolphins were 3-0 and finished with a winning record? That would be 2002, the 9-7 team that managed to blow a big lead and the playoffs in a season-ending loss to New England. You realize how long ago that is?

So long ago, that:

Many babies born on Sept. 22, the day the Dolphins walloped the Jets, 30-3, at Pro Player Stadium to reach 3-0, will be trying to get their driver’s licenses this week.

Dolphins fans’ main complaint was the perennial playoff team couldn’t get past the divisional round. In the next 16 years, there would be two playoff appearances.

It was five names and six name changes ago for Hard Rock Stadium, which was still called “Pro Player Stadium.”

Dolphins running back Frank Gore was only one knee surgery into his University of Miami college career. Gore’s replacement, Willis McGahee, had a great season that ended in his own torn-up knee. It still propelled him to a long NFL career that ended in 2013.

New Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was a little offbeat, but surely the Dolphins would get several years of Pro Bowl production out of him after trading two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick to New Orleans.

People still weren’t sure how long that whole Tom Brady thing would last in New England despite the franchise’s Super Bowl win the previous February. But we all knew the Super Bowl-losing St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf would break out of its early season funk to be a Super Bowl contender again.

Teams still hired former Jimmy Johnson assistants to head coaching jobs the way they do Bill Belichick assistants now. With about as much success.

Current Oakland coach John Gruden was still a hot young coach (as opposed to a questionable recycled coach), the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being Oakland’s head coach for four seasons. Gruden was 39, younger than current Dolphins coach Adam Gase is now (40).

You couldn’t watch current NFL highlights on YouTube. You couldn’t watch old “Monday Night Football” openings on YouTube. You couldn’t watch old Ernie Kovacs blackout sketches on YouTube. You couldn’t watch anything on YouTube. YouTube was still 2 1/2 years into the future.

None of the “Seinfeld” stars had found post-Seinfeld TV series success. None of the “Friends” stars had found post-Friends series success, either — “Friends” still in first-run, starting the ninth of its 10 seasons.

Movies and TV shows still got released on VHS as well as DVD.

Baby Boomer and Gen Xers were still trying to raise millennials instead of trying to blame them for killing goods and services to which the stodgy senior generations had become accustomed.

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