Greg Cote

Greg Cote: Dolphins and Canes fans should save criticism, enjoy positive start

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin questions a call during a 17-10 season-opening win against the Washington Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin questions a call during a 17-10 season-opening win against the Washington Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Heaven knows that Miami football fans cheering for and frustrated by our two biggest teams have had abundant reasons to become jaded over the past decade-plus.

The Dolphins have rendered Super Bowls a distant, fading memory, haven’t even won a playoff game for 14 long seasons, and gradually slipped under the NFL radar into the abyss of irrelevance and somnambulant mediocrity.

The Hurricanes have begun their 14th season since last winning a national championship, give little indication of mastering the Atlantic Coast Conference, and last year sunk to meet the indignity of a once-unthinkable losing record.

So I get it. Fans end too many seasons disappointed and find that bitterness grows in them like weeds in what used to be fields of hope. The attitude becomes calloused.

This causes many to generally mistrust success — the weird phenomenon we are seeing at the moment on both sides of the pro/college aisle.

The Dolphins on Sunday opened the season with a 17-10 win on the road, but that isn’t good enough, based on the venting seen on Twitter and in my email in-box. I guess the visitors favored by four points were supposed to win in a flawless, dominant rout?

The Hurricanes have started the season 2-0, but apparently beating two smaller, lesser opponents by a combined score of 89-20 isn’t good enough, either.

As many of you know I conduct postgame polls in my blog each week for both teams. When last I checked Dolfans’ opening-game satisfaction was running at 30.6 percent, combining those who voted they were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied. Hurricanes approval after two games was running at 34.5 percent.

Those results surely aren’t scientific, but they strike me as an accurate reflection.

Dolfans find it hard to believe — don’t want to get their hopes up only to be let down again — and Sunday did little to soften that mindset. (Wasn’t it just one year ago that the season began with a bracing triumph over the rival Patriots but then frittered away to 8-8?)

With Hurricanes fans it’s more complicated. I think so many have come to see coach Al Golden as the problem that they’d rather UM struggle and Golden get fired than UM win and Golden stay. Not most fans, I’d hope for the sake of sanity, but many.

What Miami fans have in common, whether they prefer their games on Saturdays or Sundays, is what must be a nation-leading tendency to excessively parse results.

We want to conduct microsurgery on every victory, looking for flaws.

We want to dock credit because the opponents were inferior instead of giving credit for the local teams simply doing what needed to be done.

“Same old Dolphins!” I must have heard three dozen times Sunday and Monday from friends and acquaintances or by email.

No. Actually, the same old Dolphins might have found a way to lose a game on the road that it trailed 10-0. This team found a way to keep its poise, shore its defense and make enough big, game-turning plays to win.

Quit complaining when there is no real cause.

Do your blood pressure a favor. Try to let go of the baggage of past years and attempt a clean-slate approach of judging a team and its coach by now, by this season.

Give yourself a break.

Give your teams a break.

And, yes, give coaches Joe Philbin and Golden a break.

There is no shame or cause for panic in UM beating Bethune-Cookman and Florida Atlantic they way it did. The sluggish start against FAU was entirely foreseeable from an emotional and human nature standpoint. It was the biggest home game in FAU history, while, for Miami, it was merely the perfunctory game before the one circled in red this Saturday vs. Nebraska.

Neither is there an overriding reason to see a 17-10 win at Washington as anything but a plus. It was a flawed performance especially in terms of run defense, but this is a bottom-line league where barely winning ugly beats narrowly losing with excitement and style — every time.

“The game didn’t start out exactly the way we liked yet our guys kept their poise, kept playing, and at end of the day [after trailing] we outscored them 17-0,” as Philbin put it Monday back at the team’s Davie headquarters. “This is an NFL game. It’s never perfect.”

Well, it was perfect once, of course. But even the 17-0 Dolphins of 1972 won six of those games by seven points or fewer.

There will be a time for Dolphins and Hurricanes fans to complain and be disappointed this season. That’s inevitable. There will be losses that turn the heat valve up on both head coaches.

For Golden that could even happen this Saturday vs. Nebraska’s Cornhuskers.

For Philbin it had better not happen a day later at the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

Losses will happen.

But until an unreasonable number of them do, how about we enjoy the good start to both of these seasons and quit kvetching over how it could have been better.

Follow Greg Cote on Twitter @gregcote

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