Let’s face it, I don’t get to go to training camp and study the Miami Dolphins. Not only don’t I get to go as much as I would like, which would be most every practice, but also not at all. The way I deal with this sad fact is I have gotten good at listening to people and not just some people, all the people.
Despite strong disagreements in how they view outcomes or meaning in what they see, using a spectrum of inputs really does give a nice picture into what is going on in training camp. All signs are encouraging through the first week, as is the tenor and tone of the on-message information coming directly from the team.
There are many reasons to find this encouraging. For one, the team having a cohesive message is nice because in years past it seemed as if they never talked to one another. The tone was something along the line of, hey let’s get together for five minutes in the hallway and get some thoughts together, which inevitably leads to a clown show of mixed messages when it comes time for five individual people, with five discernible agendas, to disseminate information to the media.
This year there is none of that. The dictate is clear, win. The place the message is coming from is specific, ownership. The fact that it has reached every person it needs to is reflected in what we hear back from the recipients of that message, such as Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin talking about championships.
Speaking of the quarterback of the team, Ryan Tannehill has made some of his most vocal detractors begin to set the groundwork for a retreat from their seemingly endless quest to usurp confidence in the young signal caller. Of course these folks are still going to attempt a strategic retreat, to graduate their opinions slowly, using the passing of time to hopefully cover some of completely misplaced vitriol they hurled in his direction as he has continued to progress over the last three seasons.
Still, if you are listening and reading, taking in swaths of information, you have heard it from all fronts: the offense has been good, and is far ahead of where they were a season ago. Questions remain of course; the guard positions are and will remain an issue unless the youngsters really make some strides.
Injuries to Parker and Stills are costing both of them some time to acclimate to a new system. Nothing is ever perfect in the NFL though, and the one thing you really wanted to hear, that Ryan Tannehill looks even better in year two of Bill Lazor’s offense, well that is the real story so far.
The other story is the change in urgency that is being shown by the coaching staff. At least to start camp they are showing a willingness to shake things up, especially on the defensive side of the ball where youngsters are making moves in the secondary, and the linebacker corps have seen a lot of shifting of personnel as well.
We can only hope that this sense of urgency carries on into the season and beyond. In the past couple of seasons the team had the looks of a squad with possibilities, but those possibilities turned into frustration in the last two years. There was a feeling of complacency specifically in the way the coaching staff reacted to on field issues. I am hopeful that this seemingly open competition that has developed this year will push this team even harder.
One week in the books and so far all of the things you want out of camp have occurred, your prize free agent is everything advertised and more. Your most important player is showing continued growth. Your biggest injury concern is making solid progress towards being available in time for when the games count. If we gave the Dolphins a flow chart and let them fill in the markers for success, you would be hard pressed to convince me that it would look any different.
It’s not enough though, not yet. What will make this camp not just currently successful, but successful as an exercise is consistency. Continue improvement. Continue to show urgency and patience in equal and proper measure. And finally, continue to keep the team focused on that one unified goal as laid out by the boss from up on high. In a word, “Win.”
This story was written by Ryan Winters. Follow him on Twitter @WintersNFL.
Edits by @EJFootball.
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