IN NEED OF CONFIDENCE

The Dolphins' confidence was soaring when they raced to a 5-1 start that included the thrilling Sunday night victory at Denver. But it has gone the other way during a three-game slide that has put the team in a three-way tie atop the AFC East.

The Dolphins have been trying to tell themselves that just about every team will go through a slump at some point during the season, and this is their slump.

But in order to get out of it, the Dolphins need to regain some of their swagger.

"After you lose three, it becomes a confidence thing," said tackle Mark Dixon. "The different in this league, and you see it every week, is three and seven points. That's usually two and three guys having the confidence to make plays. Right now, it's kind of like the chicken and the egg. What comes first: confidence or playing well? We need to have something positive happen early."

Quarterback Ray Lucas, who has received most of the blame for the slide, said confidence is not an issue.

It's more of a matter of execution, something that needs to improve starting with himself.

"Absolutely not," Lucas quickly replied when he was asked about the team losing confidence. "We've gotta go week in and week out. You have to have a short-term memory. Everybody is close right now. It's what you do from here on out that counts."

It's pretty clear the Dolphins haven't looked like a confidence team the last couple of weeks, but that can all change pretty quickly.

As tight end Randy McMichael pointed out, it's still too early to panic.

"I don't think we're a desperate team," he said. "We're a good football team. Once we drop below .500, then desperation might set in. We're not playing good football as a team. As a complete unit, we're not playing well."


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