Following the 7-26 loss to last year’s Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs. I have used these past few days to reflect on yet another ugly Wild Card game loss for my favorite team, the Miami Dolphins. Following the result of the game, like most Dolphin fans, I felt as if George Foreman threw his signature devastating body blow, landing right in my vulnerable liver. Stunned, with a touch of despair, I was looking for someone to blame. I could do the easy thing and blame the offense for only scoring 7 points or the countless injuries that riddled the Dolphin’s roster. I could even blame Coach Mike McDaniel for not generating enough offense against the Chiefs and, lastly, blame the obvious horrendous weather conditions. Then again, both teams played in these conditions, so how much could the weather have aided the Chief’s victory versus aiding the Dolphin’s loss?

Unfortunately, while the Dolphins coaches and players are presently answering questions to their season-ending exit interviews, I decided to go back and watch some of their earlier games and see if anything curious popped out to me. The game I decided to turn on was Eagles against Dolphins, and both teams were 5-1 heading into this Sunday Night primetime game. As the highlights started rolling, I had this shocking revelation. This Dolphins team back in week 6 was not the same team that just traveled to Kansas City.

I watched Tua throw it to a healthy Raheem Mostert while Connor Williams was running out in front, pancaking an Eagle defender, and then getting his hands on another potential tackler.

Jerome Baker is running fast, going sideline to sideline, making tackles on the Eagles’ running backs without any neck brace or knee brace needed.

Jalen Phillips speed-rushing past offensive linemen, generating pressure, while Bradley Chubb was on the opposite side, creating pressure on his own. And when those guys needed a blow, we had Van Ginkel and/or Ogbah coming off the bench to make plays. Our defense line was fast and physical and had “B” level substitutes ready to come in at any point of the game.

Xavien Howard was healthy while holding down his side of the defense. Jevon Holland, earlier in the season, was creating fumbles with his strips or his 99-yard interception on Black Friday before injuring both knees! How uncommon is that to happen to a player to injure not one, but both knees! Clearly, he wasn’t the same player late in the year.

There was a surplus of depth on this team because we had Pro Bowl-level players all around the field. There is no denying that the Dolphins’ talent kept opposing coaches up at night game planning for the Phins. Now compare the players I just spoke about versus who was out there on Saturday night. For goodness sake, we were picking up guys who won’t play in the NFL anymore, playing meaningful minutes for us.

I know everyone is feeling as down as ever after this loss, but I really believe it is not all bad for the future. We are still an elite team. McDaniel is still a tremendous coach. Vic Fangio had our defense playing at an elite level. Unfortunately, injuries beat us more than any team this season, and that is just the hard, true life of the NFL. That was our “C” team that we saw in that playoff game, not the real top-flight Miami Dolphins!