Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins sober and back to reality after the Miami Miracle

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was confident in the “Miami Miracle”, but emotional

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was confident in the "Miami Miracle", but emotional
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was confident in the "Miami Miracle", but emotional

Before Sunday’s stirring and electrifying victory over the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins were keenly aware of their fragile playoff chances.

“Before this game we’re sitting at 6-6 and on the outside looking in,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We know every game from here on out is pretty much a do-or-die situation. We’re not immune or ignorant to the fact of the situation that we’re in. We knew what it was.”

And then the Dolphins beat the Patriots. They authored a play for the ages and upset the AFC East division leaders. I feel like drums should have been playing and fireworks going off as your read the last sentence.

And you know what the Miami Miracle did?

“I think that one play at least keeps us alive and gives us opportunity moving forward,” Tannehill said.


And that’s all.

As everyone returns to Earth from the Miami Miracle orbit of the last 48 hours it becomes time to recognize practically nothing has changed. And that’s what the Dolphins are doing.

Coach Adam Gase turned his celly on vibrate Sunday night to stop reading congratulatory texts and instead concentrate on work that needed done in preparation for Sunday’s game at Minnesota.

“... Come Tuesday afternoon, it’s over with and you have to move on to the next,” defensive end Cameron Wake said.

I know you still feel great about your team because they gave you a thrill and the Patriots are embarrassed.

But from 30,000 feet the Dolphins are still not a playoff team. They’re in the hunt. They have a chance to make it into the playoffs. But they’re not in that postseason group of six at the moment. They have to keep winning.

And they’re assuming one loss might knock them out. We don’t know that for sure but it could.

Only thing we do know with certainty is the Dolphins need to keep winning.

If you don’t know it, ask coach Adam Gase how much room for error his team has the final three games of the season if they hope to make the postseason?

“Probably none,” he said.

So that’s the situation. That’s the truth. The Miami Miracle was fun. It was uplifting. But in the perspective of this season, all it did was keep the Dolphins alive.

And, just as importantly, in the perspective of how this team will be judged after this season, it is just another play that helped Miami win one game.

I think that’s important to understand because things have gotten a little overstated the past couple of days.

Example: After the game, I got multiple texts from sources around the NFL saying that because the Dolphins had beaten the Patriots and done so in such exciting fashion, that the team would thus never move on from Tannehill this offseason.

The idea was that the play sealed it for Tannehill for 2019. He’s a Dolphin!

And I have to tell you, I understand that premise. I even agreed with it.

But I’ve been talked off that stance in the last day. As to Tannehill, and indeed, as to any player on the roster, the evaluation continues. There are at least three more games before that book is closed.

It must be said Tannehill has put together some impressive numbers since his return from the capsule injury in his throwing shoulder that kept him sidelined five games in October and early November.

He was very efficient and good on Sunday against New England. He completed 14 of 19 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns. His passer rating was a whopping 155.2.

And since his return he’s completed 47 of 68 passes (69 percent) for 606 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. His QB rating in those three games is 129.9.

That’s very good. That’s also some outstanding game managing.

“He’s played the way we needed him to play these last few games,” Gase said of Tannehill. “He’s protecting the football, done a good job finding open guys and a good job of running the offense.”

Gase was not waving pom-poms when he said this. You should not either.

Tannehill’s work has been good. But the work is incomplete. The 5 o’clock whistle has not sounded.

After this season the quarterback’s work will be judged in total -- which includes the five games he played before his injury.

Same applies to all the other players on this team.

Think about this: Ted Larsen delivered the block that sprung Kenyan Drake for the Miami Miracle touchdown on Sunday. He was some 40 yards down the field and it showed great effort.

So does that one block guarantee Larsen, who is unsigned for next year, will be re-signed this offseason? Or are the Dolphins going to judge him for the entirety of what he did in 2018?

I’m quite certain the evaluation will also include all the missed blocks, penalties and sacks Larsen is responsible for as well as his best moment.

Same for Robert Quinn, who had a sack against the Patriots but has only 4.5 all season.

Same for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who struggled in coverage playing boundary cornerback on Sunday. Fitzpatrick has been outstanding in nickel in previous games and before the game I was speaking with a source who said if Fitzpatrick played well on the boundary for several games, perhaps that would relieve the team from needing to add a starting cornerback next offseason.

The possibility needs more evaluation.

Everybody gets more evaluation, folks.

And same for the team.

Look, a few weeks ago Gase and yours truly got into a little back-and-forth about results versus process. The coach predictably talked about the importance of process for having success. The journalist predictably cares more about the results.

And I’m not backing down.

I don’t care that the Dolphins needed a miracle to beat the Patriots. They beat the Patriots!

Similarly, however, I don’t care the Dolphins have had as many injuries as half the NFL this season. They get no sympathy points or wins for having guys injured. If they lose because of it, it’s a loss.

The Dolphins certainly didn’t decline the 2008 AFC title because Tom Brady missed the entire season. It’s the NFL. Stuff happens.

So we deal with reality of wins and losses.

Also, similarly when the Dolphins say privately, “We should have beaten Cincinnati and the only reason we didn’t is because Laremy Tunsil got hurt in the fourth quarter,” that falls on deaf ears with me.

The fact is Miami did not beat Cincinnati. Period.

I don’t care the Titans think they should have beaten Miami were it not for terrible weather delays in September.

I don’t care the Dolphins think they should have had a bye last year were it not for a terrible hurricane hitting Florida.

All those things happened. And so the team is not judged on a curve based on the trouble or advantage of the situation. The team is judged based on wins and losses amid its different situations.

The evaluation period for this team, its players, its coaches, the season, is not yet over. Sunday’s miracle didn’t change that.

All Sunday’s miracle did was keep the Dolphins alive. So let the evaluation continue.

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