Preface: These are opinions.
I've seen a slow progression to this point coming for a long time.
The "progression" for me began at the beginning of the 2002 season. The dolphins had a new offensive coordinator, a stud Running Back, and all the makings of a prolific offense "if only we could pass the ball". That's what I wanted to know, "Can we pass the ball?" As you know it was a weird season with injuries to receivers and the starting QB but we still managed to run the ball effectively and win games. My question got answered in December of 2002 but I still denied it.
With the 2003 season looming I watched for a "shakeup" of personell on the offensive line. I thought it was in critical need of upgrade because they would be key in the passing game. I did not think the line was 1853 yards worth of good partially because the August 2002 words of Ricky Williams stuck in my head. To paraphrase Ricky said "A great running back can make a great line." What I think Ricky didn't account for was an O-line, a QB, and a group of receivers that performed on such a dismal level that it would create opportunity for the opposing defense to discount any threat of pass whatsoever.
That's where we stand. It started in December of 2002 but now the disrespect for the pass is in full bloom at the beginning of November 2003. Since there has been no prevailing sentiment coming out of Davie I sat and wondered if my next thoughts were correct. I still don't know if they are correct but at least I'm searching for answers to something that is making my stomach turn (blatant exaggeration). It is on this note that I made a phone call at 2 am thursday morning.
Some of you may know of this guy (Tim Ryan) and some of you may not. Under the circumstances I don't think your opinion of him much matters if you indeed know of him.
Tim Ryan is the leader of all time tackles at USC. He went on to be drafted in 1990 by the Chicago Bears in the 3rd round with pick number 8. He played in the waning days of the 46 defense and went on to play for Wannestedts Bears. He tallied a total of 4 years in the NFL. Presently he does color commentary aside Ron Pitts on Fox for the NFL. His radio show on Fox Sports is where I placed this phone call to. I think he has the credentials to answer the question I asked.
Significance? Maybe none if you do not agree with my prior assessments of the offense. The only point here is that Tim Ryan answered my question and I thought I would share it with you.
It was a fairly short conversation as most radio calls are but I had to "set it up" or it wouldn't make for good radio. So please excuse the "no shizit" comments because not all listeners are dolphin fans.
Zod-"It's the general consensus that Defenses facing the Miami Dolphins are putting eight in the box almost the entire game."
TR- "Yeah, the league has figured out how to stop the Dolphin offense and that's putting eight men at the line of scrimmage to stop Ricky Williams."
Zod- "It's almost like Defensive Coordinators have no respect for the pass."
I then stated something that I can't remember exactly but his response which I think was a blatantly exaggerated was
"He may face nine" meaning that Ricky may face nine in the box before season's end.
Tim Ryan then went into "setting up" the matchup between the Dolphins/Titans this weekend with emphasis on the Smith/Kearse matchup. A recording of Wannestedt's press conference talking about Griese "learning in the past two weeks" was played and surprisingly Tim Ryan came back to me.
So I busted out my fear/question.
Zod- "So you're telling me that the Dolphins will have to pass the ball 40 times and show that they can defeat a team with the pass in order for Ricky to see a hundred yard game again?" (blatantly exaggerated)
TR- "You've hit the nail on the head. In order for the Dolphins to win games and go deep into the playoffs like those fans down there expect them too, they will have to achieve balance on that offense. And I'm not talking about statistical balance. I'm not talking about numbers on paper. I'm talking about real balance. That's why they are not running the play action as much anymore. Teams aren't buying it."
The call ended.
Shortly after I thought "Thanks, you've confirmed my worst fear and best aspiration for this team."
I'm actually glad we are forced to achieve balance now instead of later as we did in December 2002.
Don't be surprised to see Griese/Fiedler throw the ball 40 times in the near future. I'm not sure of the outcome of that game but as I've said before.....
"This team is going nowhere with the offense it has been running."
At the midway point of the season the Dolphins can determine who they are and I'm looking forward to it (win or lose).