DOLPHINS ARE NEW - AND IMPROVED

Coach Dave Wannstedt said all week that he didn't want to talk about the Jets' eight-game losing streak because this was a new Dolphins team, with a lot of new players and one important addition in the coaching staff. You saw on Sunday just what he meant.

This indeed is a new Dolphins team. More to the point, it's a better Dolphins team.

Yes, the addition of Norv Turner has made a difference because the Dolphins no longer are predictable offensively.

But it's clear the biggest difference is Ricky Williams. simply put, he allows the Dolphins to play a different style of game in the second half.

With Williams, the Dolphins can pound defenses with their running game, wear them out, keep the Dolphins defense off the field and in the process reduce the risk of turnovers.

Don't think that makes a big difference? Remember that the Dolphins committed 26 turnovers during their eight-game losing streak to the Jets. On Sunday, they committed none.

That was just one factor in the 30-3 victory, but it was a big factor.

The Dolphins also were able to hold a lead against the Jets, something every Dolphins fan knows they've had problems doing in the past.

The Dolphins led only 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, but with the way Williams was running and getting stronger you never really had the feeling the outcome was in doubt.

Yes, even though these were the Jets the Dolphins were playing.

Williams, quite simply, has added an entirely new dimension to this Dolphins team.

The defense, as was evident on Sunday and against the Colts, is still very good. The passing game has improved tremendously with Turner calling the plays.

But it's the running game that has improved the most. Yes, Lamar Smith is doing some good things with the Carolina Panthers. But Williams is doing some extraordinary things with the Dolphins.

The big question now is just how far the Dolphins can go with this team. It's too early to get overly excited, but there certainly are some exciting things going on with this team.

Beating the Jets was just one of them.


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