Mike Pouncey’s got it about right in his ribbing of the media.
“A lot of people counted us out, gave up on us,” the Dolphins center said after Sunday’s 28-25 win over Buffalo got Miami back to 3-4 for the season. “I’ve seen all you guys’ predictions. Ya’ll didn’t believe in us, either.”
Full disclosure, I’ve been consistently wrong in both directions. Predicted the Dolphins beating Tennessee (wrong), the Steelers beating Miami (wrong) and Buffalo having an easy time of it at Hard Rock last Sunday (what a nasty man).
Hey, it’s not like this is easy.
Jay Ajayi had no career game with more than 48 yards rushing before the rattled off a couple of 200-yarders in a row.
Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times by the Titans but the Steelers and Bills barely laid a mitt on him.
On top of all that, the Dolphins had to go to overtime to beat the Browns, still the NFL’s only winless team, so what was there to suggest a renaissance against Pittsburgh, a regular playoff contender, and Buffalo, a team on a four-game win streak?
Maybe you’re much better at reading the trends. Maybe you just get a kick out of waiting until the games are played and jumping off the top rope on anyone who guessed wrong.
Either way, we’ve been here many times with the Dolphins in recent years, toggling back and forth between solid performances and real stinkers.
Miami has started out 3-4 in five of the last 12 seasons, including this one. In eight of the last 12 they have been either 3-4 or 4-3. This treadmill has led to the playoffs only once during that period, but there are some encouraging parallels.
The 2008 Dolphins had a first-time Pro Bowl running back in Ronnie Brown, a first-time NFL head coach in Tony Sparano, a sturdy and serviceable quarterback in Chad Pennington and a defense that was fairly stingy on giving up points.
The result was a surge from 3-4 to 11-5 and the AFC East title, with a first-round playoff loss to Baltimore to follow.
Of course, Tom Brady was injured that season, which opened the door to the division title, and it seems he has already had his break for 2016. We’re not talking about glory for the Dolphins here, though, just a good run to a winning record.
That would be refreshing, and Cam Wake goes so far as to say a solid second half to the season is predictable.
“From top to bottom, it was a team win,” Wake said Sunday after picking up 1.5 of the Dolphins’ four sacks on Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor. “Offense did what they were supposed to do. Defense did what they were supposed to do.
“No one can beat us when we’re playing that way.”
Of course, there’s another way to look at this thing. With the Dolphins, there always is.
Last year another 3-4 start accurately predicted what was to come with some accuracy. Miami ended up 6-10, despite Dan Campbell’s best efforts to squeeze the softness out of the team.