Go with Gus ... all the way

Only a few days before the Dolphins' season opener, everyone around town is hoping -- praying actually might be more like it -- that we won't have a repeat of the disaster that was the 2004 season. Experts and so-called experts don't expect much from this year's Dolphins, but it's logical to think a step forward is on the horizon. And what happens Sunday in the opener vs. Denver, particularly how Nick Saban deals with his quarterback situation, might become a good indicator of things to come.

To explain what we're talking about here, we take you back to this time last year when things unfortunately were very similar in Dolphin-land.

There was concern about the offensive line and there also was a quarterback situation where the starter wasn't officially named until after the preseason finale.

But here's where Saban can learn from what transpired last year: Regardless of how Gus Frerotte performs in the first half of the game against Denver, don't panic and yank him right then and there.

Now, we're not saying Frerotte is going to stink it up in the opening two quarterbacks against the Broncos because it is our strong opinion that he will be much better in the regular season than he was in the preseason -- not great, but much better.

But we're playing worst-case scenario here and, for the sake of argument, assuming Frerotte is real bad.

Again, stick with him. If a change must be made, it should be made after a game, not during a game.

To refresh your memory, Jay Fiedler was awful in the first half against Tennessee last year, going 5-for-13 for 42 yards with two interceptions. He was pulled at halftime in favor of A.J. Feeley, who then went 21-of-31 for 168 yards and a touchdown.

But Feeley also threw an interception (on an awful pass) that was returned 37 yards for a touchdown that gave Tennessee a 14-0 lead at the time.

Feeley would remain the starting quarterback for the next two games before then-Coach Dave Wannstedt decided he needed to back to Jay Fiedler.

After Wannstedt resigned (or was let go, depending on how you choose to view it), interim coach Jim Bates went back to Feeley.

The end result is the Dolphins got mediocre to bad quarterback play all season, except for Fiedler's one outstanding performance in a victory over the Rams.

Now, would it have made a difference had Wannstedt stuck with Fiedler in that first game? Who knows?

But it set a terrible tone for the offense. And it clearly was a mistake, a mistake that cannot be repeated.

We don't expect Saban to make the same mistake again. Of course, the best scenario is that he doesn't even have to think about it.


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