BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

You just knew it was bound to happen. After calling for his benching when he played so terribly in his first couple of starts, Dolphins fans are now suggesting on radio talk shows that Ray Lucas stay at quarterback even when Jay Fiedler is healthy again.

That notion is too ridiculous to even address, but it does point out a positive development for the Dolphins: The tremendous improvement of Ray Lucas the last couple of games.

In the victories over Baltimore and San Diego, Lucas played quarterback the way the Dolphins want their quarterback to play. More precisely, Lucas made plays when they needed to be made, didn't force things and avoided turnovers.

That's what the Dolphins envisioned Lucas doing after Fiedler sustained a broken thumb in the Sunday night victory at Denver over a month ago.

The real shame is that it took Lucas a couple of games to reach this level.

Why it didn't happen sooner is open to debate, but the feeling here is that Lucas was just too concerned with showing the Dolphins what he could do, too worried about not letting the team down.

By trying to do too much, he wound up doing just that.

But Lucas started playing better in the Sunday night loss to the Jets, even though there still were too many forced throws that could have been intercepted.

In the last two games, there have been none.

On the contrary, Lucas has been making some tough throws at times, throws that Fiedler might not be able to make.

One that comes to mind was his 17-yard completion to Robert Baker where he rolled out to his right and lofted the ball over a defender. That was some throw.

With Lucas playing the way he's playing right now, the Dolphins could beat any team.

But Fiedler was playing this way also when he got injured, and he was more consistent.

That's why there is not quarterback controversy here. Coach Dave Wannstedt made that perfectly clear on Monday when he said Fiedler would regain his starting job the second he was ready to play.

But it is comforting to know that Lucas indeed can get the job done, particularly since Fiedler may have to sit out another game before he's ready to return.


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