What's the Goal?

The Dolphins face their last two games of the regular season with the knowledge they've been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but everyone in the organization refuses to believe there's nothing to play for. In fact, the Dolphins placed a note in the locker room called "REASONS TO WIN." The list includes eight reasons.

After we run down the list, we'll tell you what else, beyond winning, the Dolphins should try to accomplish.

First, the list:

1. Pride! Little piece of ribbon

2. Compete!

3. Not a Loser

4. Respect!

5. Too much time put in!

6. Family

7. Win record

8. Love The Game

OK, so it's not the most awe-inspiring bulletin ever produced, but the message is clear.

These last two games, mind you, very well could mean a great deal for Tony Sparano, who would have a better chance to return as coach in 2011 with a 9-7 record than with a 7-9 mark.

But there are other things that need to get done in the last two games, the first being to take a look at some young players to see if they need to have a role with the team moving forward.

Sparano said after last season that one of his regret was not giving more playing time to then-rookie Patrick Turner. He can't let the same thing happen to young guys like Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Dedric Epps, Jeron Mastrud, Mickey Shuler, John Jerry, Chris Baker, Austin Spitler and Jonathon Amaya.

Yes, the idea is to still try to win games, but it's also important for the Dolphins to evaluate young players. To that end, the Dolphins could have Brandon Marshall play a half against Detroit and New England, or just have him come off the field in favor of Wallace or Moore every once in a while.

For those who are concerned about respecting the integrity of the game and trying to win so as not to hurt those competing for playoff spots, keep in mind that Detroit already has been eliminated and New England already has clinched.

So the Dolphins will have no impact whatsoever on who does or doesn't make the playoffs.

It's all about them.

To that end, is there really any reason for Jake Long to keep playing with one healthy shoulder? The answer is no. Karlos Dansby also has battled various injuries in recent weeks and doesn't need to push himself.

Then there's the biggest question of all: What to do at quarterback?

The future of Chad Henne has been the most debated topic around this team all season and that doesn't figure to change once the offseason begins.

So maybe the Dolphins need to have every bit of evidence in place before they make a decision. Or maybe a decision already has been made. Sparano made an interesting comment during his daily press briefing on Wednesday when he was asked whether he knew everything he had to know about Henne. His answer: "I think I know a lot about Chad Henne."

Reading between the lines, it almost seems as though he doesn't need to see any more from Henne to make up his mind about him. If that's the case, then give Tyler Thigpen a shot in the last two games because the jury clearly has to be out about him, even though all indications are that he's a backup and nothing more.

The bottom line as we approach the final two games is that these might as well be two preseason games for the Dolphins. It's about evaluating now, a lot more than about winning or pride or competing or whatever else.


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