FOCUS ON FIEDLER

It's a big year for the Dolphins, and that means just about everybody in the organization, from Dave Wannstedt on down. The pressure certainly is on quarterback Jay Fiedler.

Fiedler has done a respectable job since taking over as the starting quarterback for the Dolphins, but the bottom line is the Dolphins have been seen as underachievers for the last several years.

Chances are, Fiedler will never be an elite quarterback in the NFL, but the Dolphins have long held the belief he's plenty good enough to get them where they want to go.

That feeling might not exist for much longer if the Dolphins again fall short of expectations this season.

The Dolphins believe they have all the pieces in place for a run at the Super Bowl. They have a stud running back in Ricky Williams, they have some talent at wide receiver, at tight end, on the offensive line and their defense is loaded with big-name players.

So it appears the onus is on Fiedler to deliver.

From this vantage point, the biggest key for Fiedler is staying healthy, which obviously isn't something he can always control.

But what he needs to do is put aside his toughness when he's scrambling and get down before taking an unnecessary hit.

There was a play in the preseason when he failed to do that, and he took a big shot from an opposing linebacker.

That's just plain dumb, especially early in the season when the backup quarterback is untested Sage Rosenfels.

Fiedler was terrific early last season before he was sidelined by that thumb injury suffered in Denver, so he has shown he can do it.

It's also his second year in Norv Turner's offensive system, which should make him and the entire offense better.

That just might be the difference for the Dolphins this season. And if it is, it just might secure Fiedler's long-term future in Miami.


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