Pats & 'Niners clarify the 'Have vs Have-not divide' this weekend
The wheat is really starting to be separated from the chafe recently, especially with the twin drubbings by the Pats & 49'ers of two 'pretender' teams, one of which was considered a top-5 team prior to the Cutler concussion.
But it puts in pretty clear light how much of a joke it was for us to ever consider Miami a 'playoff contender'. Even if they would've somehow squeaked in there at 9-7 or something they would've been disposed of in short order by a real team.
So, with that in mind, perhaps we can enjoy the 'rebuilding year' thing for the rest of the Dolphin Season, though that does come with some caveats.
For example: It's easy to dismiss yards at the end of a blowout game as 'garbage stats'. Well, when your season is pretty much in 'garbage time' can any stats really have value? What I mean is that, can we really evaluate the quality of our player's performance when the pressure of achieving something is gone? I think, in a spoiler role standpoint the games do have some value, but it is diminished. Many guys have had great success when their team is out of the hunt, then turn around on week one of the following year and prove themselves to be losers. Hopefully this won't be the case for Tannehill. Matt Moore himself is kinda the poster boy for being a garbage-time hero. He failed to impress in camp and that is why Tannehill started the season by putting his foot in the bucket.
Outside of Tannehill, though, I do believe guys can and will display their true value as players. Unlike Bonus-baby QBS, most players are playing for career livelihood and to earn money to pay for their astronomical medical care they'll need later in life as a result of the carnage they're doing to their bodies right now.
I do believe Miami will have the opportunity to determine which players can make them a legit Superbowl threat vs a 9-7 1st-round exit team. Having a juggernaut in your own division should clarify the difference between pretender and contender really well. It should tell you what percentage of successful plays you need to have in order to convincingly win games. Miami's players and coaches will get a REAL good look at what success means shortly. That coaching staff might be quivering in a corner right now because if Tennesse made a mockery of Miami's efforts, what will the Pats and Niners do? Shudder to think.
Since you brought it up somethings that really stood out to me concerning those teams:
First and particularly for 49ers: How much offensive weapons these teams have!
The protection by their O-lines
The domination by their D-lines
Playmakers in the secondary!
The Pats prove that when you're incredibly talented at a couple positions, it makes everyone so much better. At QB and TE, New England just destroys people so bad that they can't hurt your slightly lesser players. NEs WRs are decent but not spectacular. How would a guy like Edelman work out with Miami? He wouldn't. He'd be covered, or Tanny would just miss him anyway. Brady is just so good that the machine just hums around him while those TEs dominate their matchups and draw extra coverage. Even their running game benefits, which then creates another nightmare for their opposition. Then, having a lead allows their defense to face offenses rendered one-dimensional by the score. It's amazing that when teams beat NE, they do it with D and the running game and making NE play 4 quarters. Miami's secondary is a mess and constantly erodes what the strength of their team tries to accomplish. Then teams are running through our nickel package like the Swiss cheese that it is. Miami's offense is the counter to NEs O in that it puts Miami D on the field for 40 minutes.
San Francisco, which stockpiled picks for a few years by underachieving in the Singletary years even with a talented base of players. Now those players are killing people because they're aimed into position by an adept coaching staff. While they sucked with Singletary they were getting even more high draft picks. They're probably the most talented team, pound for pound, in the league. QB has been their weakest link, like Ben Hur's charriot with Ben Dover driving it. That Kaepernick kid made it look easy because the players he's got running patterns are freakin' studs. Mario Manningham is only a WR3 on that team. Moss is not a true #1 anymore but still demands coverage, and Crabtree is emerging to be a beast. Gore is a stud and that OLine is a powerful force as well. But QB for San Fran last night was the big star, even with the DE dominating. Kaepernick made the throws. He didn't miss. That's the key. Your QB has to make the plays because everything falls apart if he doesn't.
If Tannehill can make the throws, then every Dolphin will look better. If he can't, then we're gonna constantly hear about how many bad player we have, with Tanny being one of them.
Say Tanny shapes up to be a stud. You'd have him on one side of the ball, and Cameron Wake on the other. That's talent you can build a SB team out of, IF Tanny can elevate his game. Damn if that doesn't remain to be seen.