I was listening to the Big O Show the other day, and as a Dolphins fan, I have always liked listening to him. He’s real, and he’s honest about the state of the Miami Dolphins, no matter what, good or bad. Before the Dallas Cowboys game this past Sunday, Big O said that the remaining 3 games, starting with the Cowboys game, were the biggest for the franchise in 35 years. I had to think about it, and he’s right. The reasons are, as he put it that this is the most talented team the Dolphins have had since the early 1990s with Dan Marino, coach Don Shula, the Marks Brothers, and a cast of others. The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game in 23 years and haven’t gone deep into the playoffs since the 1992 AFC Championship game. That’s hard to believe for a fan such as myself, who’s cheered for this team for over 35 years, but it’s true. 

The Dolphins have had some pretty good teams, especially in the late 1990s, but not championship-worthy teams. Former head coach Dave Wannstedt had good defenses in the early 2000s but never brought in any quality offensive players, especially at quarterback, to complement their defense. Those teams always faded as the seasons wore on. Nick Saban passed on Drew Brees, and the team struggled, and he left for Alabama. Then the franchise hit rock bottom and went through a 1-15 season in 2007. Then things turned around in 2008 as the team had a magical season with Chad Pennington at quarterback and running the gimmick Wildcat offense to get the team an AFC East title and a playoff berth, but the team lost in the playoffs, and the league caught up to that the Dolphins fizzled fast. The Joe Philbin era as coach was as clueless as it gets. He was lost as a coach, and he didn’t have control of the locker room, as the Bully Gate scandal showed he wasn’t cut out to be a coach. They also had the 2016 team with Jay Ajayi and his big rushing season and made the playoffs under coach Adam Gade, but the team fell apart after 2016, and Gase’s tenure sank as fast. 

Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross in 2019 put Chris Grier in charge as general manager, and Grier rebuilt the Dolphins’ roster and tried to acquire as many picks as possible to build the Dolphins through the draft. He has put together a good young roster with defensive players Christian Wilkins, Jevon Holland, and Jaelan Phillips. He also drafted quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to be the franchise quarterback, along with offensive lineman Robert Hunt, Liam Eichenberg, and Austin Jackson. He also got big play wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. The team played hard for coach Brian Flores from 2019-2021, especially on defense, but Flores had friction with Tagovailoa and Grier. Plus, he constantly changed offensive coaches, which didn’t help the offense’s development. 

Ross fired Flores and then hired offensive-minded Mike McDaniel as head coach last year. Grier made a splashy move trading for wide receiver Tyreek Hill. McDaniel has been a great fit with Tagovailoa as the offense has proven to be the best since the Marino days, with Hill and Waddle making big plays in the passing game and running with Raheem Mostert. The Dolphins offense helped guide them to the playoffs. The Dolphins made aggressive moves, changing the defensive coordinator from Josh Boyer to Vic Fangio, who is considered one of the better defensive minds in the game. They also made aggressive moves to acquire linebacker Bradley Chubb and cornerback Jaelen Ramsey to shore up the defense this year. 

The Dolphins, in year two under McDaniel, have been off to their best start in decades. They are now 11-4. The Dolphins have one of the better offenses in the league. They look like they have found their franchise quarterback in Tagovailoa. They have more balance on offense, running, and passing than in any time I can ever remember. The defense has been playing much better as the season has gone on under Fangio. 

The Dolphins have a lot of talent on this team on both sides of the ball, and they are a much deeper team. Their offensive line started four backups against the Cowboys and held their own very well to help the Dolphins win. That’s a credit to the coaching staff coaching them up and overcoming injuries on the line. The biggest knock on the Dolphins is they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. Well, they beat the Cowboys on Sunday. Coming up they have the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and the 3-time defending AFC East champion Buffalo Bills to close the season. The Dolphins made the playoffs last year and clinched a playoff spot with the win over the Cowboys, but this team has bigger goals than just making the playoffs. They have a chance to win the AFC East if they win one of their final two games, and if they win, both can clinch the number 1 seed and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Ravens have the best record in the AFC by one game, and the Dolphins must win the game to have a chance to get the #1 seed in Baltimore. They also must exercise some demons against the Bills, as they have had the Dolphins’ number, and most people feel better about the Bills over the Dolphins for the simple fact that they have won the division and some post-season success. 

These final games are an exciting time to be a Dolphins fan as they are on the cusp of positioning themselves for the playoffs to go through Miami. The Dolphins haven’t had this type of excitement in a long time. Big O is right; this is the biggest stretch for this team in 35 years, and the Dolphins have a chance to write the narrative of how good they can be. When is the last time you could say that or say that this team is good?  

Chris Grier has done a great job putting this team together, and Mike McDaniel has done a great job coaching this team with his staff. Now, it’s time to finish the job and show the naysayers this team is good.