LAST LOOK AT LUCAS

Now that Ray Lucas' tenure as the starting quarterback is over, both Coach Dave Wannstedt and Jay Fiedler were asked to asses Lucas' performance in his six starts.

Not surprisingly, Wannstedt and Fiedler were positive in their comments.

"Past that first game, I thought Ray did a great job," Fiedler said Wednesday. "He went out there and did what he needed to do. Obviously, not everyone is going to get it done every play. He certainly made a couple of mistakes here or there, but overall I think he played well enough to win a lot of games.

"It is not one person that makes a difference with a win or a loss. It is a team game. He went out there and was 2-4 and he could have easily been 4-2 or 5-1. It was a difference between a couple of plays here or there throughout the game and not necessarily plays he made or didn't make."

Wannstedt, for his part, said, "I really think that Ray did everything that he possibly could and will continue to do it. The Jets game up there, going in we fumble one, we don't get a call in the end zone and we have a miscommunication with a handoff. If we don't do that then he has a chance to win that game. I thought that Ray did a good job. I would say that it took him a little longer to get up to speed as compared to where we thought he was because of the preseason. I thought that he did everything that he possibly could."

Not a harsh criticism, but not exactly a ringing endorsement, either.

Now that Fiedler is ready to start again, there actually have been Dolphins fans suggested on radio talk shows that there isn't much of a difference between Lucas and Fiedler.

Sorry, there is a big difference. The last six games proved that.

The easy argument would be to point at the Dolphins' record: 5-1 with Fiedler starting, 2-4 with Lucas starting.

But it goes beyond that. With Fiedler, the Dolphins were tremendously efficient on offense. They scored 21 points or more in all six games he started. They had tremendous balance offensively. They usually avoided turnovers.

With Lucas, they were held to 10 points three consecutive weeks. The passing game was barely functional. They committed turnovers in bunches.

Lucas obviously was much better by the end of his tenure than he was at the start and he had reached the point of being a solid backup.

But even then, in that game at Buffalo, he made a costly mistake when he held on to the ball way too long on the fourth-down play that ended with him getting sacked and fumbling.

Somehow, you get the feeling that play would have ended differently with Fiedler running it.

Everybody points to the physical similarities between Fiedler and Lucas, and they clearly are there. But it's obvious after watching Lucas for six games that Fiedler simply has more feel and awareness on the field than Lucas, and that's why anybody suggesting there isn't a difference between the two are off base.

Folks, there's a reason the Dolphins chose Fiedler over Lucas as their starter after Lucas signed last year.

At the very least, Lucas' improvement over the last few weeks gave the Dolphins confidence that another Fiedler injury might not be as catastrophic as it was earlier this season.


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