Barring an unforeseen miracle, the Miami Dolphins will miss the playoffs for the third time in three years under head coach Joe Philbin but the mood in the locker room has been upbeat, with the players and coaches saying that they still have plenty to play for.
Philbin said that the meetings have been good so far this week and the energy has been high and he hopes that continues into Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. While he hasn’t mentioned anything to them about playoffs, he has talked to them about playing a full 60-minute football game from start to finish.
Jarvis Landry said that all of the players want to go out and win the last two games.
“Win by any means. I think that’s the mindset that we have to take to these last two games. Whether it be our last two (games) or not, we have to win them to even have a chance. We understand that and we are going to approach it with no other way in mind but to win the game.”
Ryan Tannehill said that it has been tough and frustrating over the past several weeks for the team. He noted that it was especially tough because they controlled their own destiny and didn’t play well, especially in the second half. However, he said that they have to move forward and prepare for the Vikings on Sunday and that it won't be hard to get motivated.
"You play for each other, you play for your team. You play to represent yourself and what you stand for as a person, as a player. So I don’t have any problem getting motivation. I love to compete regardless if playoffs are on the line or not. It’s a football game and I play to win. I think those guys in the locker room do the same.”
Like Tannehill, Jared Odrick spoke of staying the course and go out there and fight to improve and get better not only as a team, but as an individual.
“You take a long, honest look at what you did personally, and then what you did as a group, and what you did as a unit and try to asses it, get better. You try, as a professional, to look at the aspects in which you know you could have done better, whether it was stuff on the field or off of it, in terms of taking care of your body or whether it’s time towards football or time towards your body, whatever it is. You just try to become a better professional and I think that’s what everybody learns each year is that you try to get better from your mistakes and the people that don’t get better from their mistakes, those people don’t usually last too long in the league. It’s a matter of people, trying to get better each day and learn from what they’ve done and haven’t done.”
Odrick said that finishing 9-7 means nothing without playoffs but in the same breath, said that winning the last two games means something. While many might think the players are down on themselves and deflated because of having another season with no playoffs, Odrick would disagree.
“It’s unfortunate, but I don’t feel deflated. Those are your words, not mine. I don’t feel deflated. I feel like there is still something to play for. Like I said, we’re on a team that’s .500 and you don’t believe that you’re .500, you have to go out there and prove it. We’ve got two more games to do that, to put it on film, for our fans and to the NFL, who we are and what we’re about and that we don’t believe that we’re a .500 team. We’ve got two games to prove that and that’s what we’re going to do in these last two games.”
Tannehill put it best when he said you play to win the game and if you don’t win, nothing else matters.
“You play to win the game. So that’s what we’re going out to do. . I don’t play for progress. I play to win. That’s what we’re trying to do this week. Obviously, the playoffs are out, but we’re playing to win the game. Right now, we’re focused on Minnesota and preparing to win the game this Sunday. Then we’ll take care of the next game after that.”
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs