THE BLAME GAME

Owner Wayne Huizenga had some interesting comments earlier this week when instead of blaming Coach Dave Wannstedt for the Dolphins failing to make the playoffs last season he was more inclined to blame Olindo Mare because of his two missed field goal attempts in the overtime loss to New England. The following day Wannstedt defended Mare. So where should the blame go?

First off — and again this deals with a team with high expectations — the Dolphins were 10-6, so it's not as though they were horrible.

Did they underachieve? Maybe.

But if you're looking to point the finger at one guy or one player, that's just not fair, whether that one guy is Wannstedt, Mare or even quarterback Jay Fiedler, another favorite whipping boy.

Let's just look at the Dolphins' six losses individually and try to decide who messed up.

Game 1 against Houston. That one really hurt because it's a game the Dolphins have no business losing. OK, who to blame? You could make a case for Fiedler's bad, bad interception that set up the game-winning field goal. But the biggest culprit was the official who threw the flag and called that absurd holding penalty on Randy McMichael, negating a Ricky Williams run to the Texans 2-yard line.

The league even acknowledged a few days later it was a bogus call. The score was 14-6 at the time and a touchdown would have made it 21-6, and it would have been over.

Game 6 at New England. That one also hurt badly. The obvious culprit here is Mare, but let's not forget the front wall, which allowed Richard Seymour to get penetration and block Mare's attempt late in regulation.

Game 8 against Indianapolis. The obvious here would be rookie tackle Wade Smith, who just got eaten alive by defensive end Dwight Freeney. But Brian Griese showed very little awareness in the pocket and the Dolphins coaching staff also could have adjusted to give Smith a little more help.

Game 9 at Tennessee. This was the one game where the Dolphins got totally spanked, so blame that on everybody.

Game 13 at New England. Fiedler comes to mind because he, quite frankly, was brutal in that game. But Randy McMichael's failure to pick up a blitzing Rodney Harrison on a play that ended the Dolphins' best scoring chance was huge as well.

Game 14 against Philadelphia. That one goes on the defense, the secondary in particular. It was the one game where those guys really came up short.

So what does this little exercise tell us? Maybe it's that the Dolphins had plenty of blame to go around for failing to make the playoffs.

Again, the team was 10-6, so it was good. It just wasn't good enough. And maybe it should just be left at that.


Dolphins Report Top Stories