Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is happy with the Season his Team just had. He’s looking forward to better days ahead.
The Dolphins finally broke the annual ritual of getting their Fans hopes up only to destroy them in December with a string of Holiday Season swoons. Those Dolphins Teams were often competitive until the Thanksgiving Feast was laid out. After that, watch out. No matter where they stood, no matter how well they were doing, they’d find a way to collapse in December.
Until this year. This year they waited for the Playoffs to show they weren’t a Playoff-Worthy Team.
But Ross can live with it and I’m not sure I can blame him. This is an Owner who has tried everything for years to find that magic formula and always missed the mark. DolFans had gotten so used to being lifted up by big billing of a big Season, often even by the National Prognosticators. But it didn’t take long for them to take every prediction of big things with piles of salt. Eventually they became numb to it. So much so the Dolphins Organization said that’s it. No more big names. No more dazzling signings that may or may not even happen. No more big promises. Time to just dig in and grind it out.
They tried sticking to the plan so hard they burned out Fans in the opposite way. By leaving the bland Joe Philbin around as head Coach too long for DolFan tastes. Then they did a little bit of the splash bringing in the highly sought Adam Gase.
Nobody knew if Gase could Coach anything but Quarterbacks. Position Coach and Coordinator positions are as different from Head Coach as night is from day. The skills and demeanor required have very little overlap. Something rarely appreciated or acknowledged. In fact there’s really only one big example of a Coach who saw for himself his own limitations and walked away from the Top Coaching Job to stick with what he did as well as anyone in the Game. Defensive Coordinator Legend Dick Lebeau.
Most choose to wreck their careers and legacies instead by continuing to make it in a job with diminishing returns over simply doing what they established they know how to do well. That is, until the Game itself tells them the obvious by refusing to give any more shots.
Ross may have finally hit that bullseye he’s thrown darts at so often for so long. And because of that he’s good despite the Dolphins quick Playoff departure. He’s choosing to be happy and hopeful.
This is in stark contrast to another NFL Owner who saw the 5th Anniversary of one of that Franchises biggest Games. A Game the NFL itself places in its Top-10 All-Time 1st Round Playoff Games.
The Tebow-Led Broncos Win over that Dick Lebeau designed Defense and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Dolphins Playoff appearance was almost inevitable, considering how many years they’ve missed it by as little as one Game or even by Tie Breakers…making those December collapses all the more painful.One Win. Just one more Win. How many Seasons did Dolphins Fans say that?
But those 2011 Denver Broncos weren’t a Playoff Team. They weren’t even close. They were a disaster of a Team and snake-bitten by injury after injury just to rub it it.
The 2010 Broncos Season featured the most losses in the Franchises then 60-year history. The Off-Season featured the NFL Lockout and for the Broncos the firing of Josh McDaniels and the beginning of the John Elway-Jon Fox Era.
Elway put everyone on notice. 5 years. That’s how long he said it would take to rebuild the Broncos and make them competitive again. 5 years.
Elway was so adamant about it he took the position that no matter what happened everyone’s job was to be reviewed AFTER the Season was over. He needed that year just to see how bad the problems were and what needed to be rebuilt. Much of the Tebow-Hating crowd, including Media, has tried to re-write history over and over on this. But that Broncos Team was Bad with a capital STINK…The Broncos Defense was near the bottom of the NFL and deserved every bit of that standing. The Broncos Offense was a comedy of errors.
One thing it definitely was not was a John Fox Team. Fox is so conservative it’s been said of him he would throw the Ball six times a Game if he thought he could Win that way. And he had in Kyle Orton a Quarterback with a penchant for throwing Interceptions and Pick-Sixes just at the worst possible times.
Once when asked about his Play Calling Fox said don’t blame Tim Tebow. He would do the same thing if the Broncos QB was named Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. He followed that with a “well maybe not Drew Brees.” Whether that was a show of respect for Rodgers’ running ability and a slap at Brees’ or an homage to Drew’s being in a class by himself, only Fox could answer. But the Broncos were so weak, especially when the combination of lesser talent than most, the youth of most of what talent they did have, and the fact the Broncos Injury Report looked like an episode of “Code Black” every week, Fox’s already Uber-Conservative nature was driven to say pound it, pound it, throw it if there’s no other choice left. Punt of you have to. Just don’t turn the Ball over.
This was a Team with a simple strategy. Play for Field Position, try to keep the Game low-scoring and close and hope for a Tebow Miracle late to Win it. And those Miracles became so commonplace not only did the 2-Minute Drill became forever changed to “TebowTime”, the Broncos even began Playing for Ties. So good was Tim at those last minute heroics the Broncos were a lock in Overtime. So a Tie was a Win.
Just like that Historic Steelers Playoff Game. The Game that could never happen by any logic. The Playoffs that Broncos Team could never by any reason be expected to be in. Especially after the 1-4 start before Tebow was given the Ball. The Home Playoff Treat Broncos Fans could never expect to receive. And the Win so improbable it is now legend.
And when this Miracle Season that could never logically happen was ended a week later in Foxborough, the Owner of that Team didn’t take even one clue from the understanding and perspective Stephen Ross just applied to his outlook on this Dolphins Season. That Owner, Pat Bowlen’s first words were…
“Well, that was a Good Season. But I wanted a Great one.”
Bowlen was given a pass for those comments because his mental state is so poor control of the Franchise was handed over to Team President Joe Ellis. And because the Tebow-Haters within NFL Media are always happy to accept anything that they can spin into “Tebow Sucks”.
But by every standard that 2011 Denver Broncos Season was far greater than anyone had any reason to expect. It is now and will always be one of the most fondly memorable ones in NFL History. It enchanted the World and the NFL hasn’t been able to say that about anything for a very long time. If ever.
Two Franchises. Two Owners. Two very different handles on their business.