Chance to Make History

The Dolphins already have accomplished a lot the way they have turned around their fortunes after the nightmare that was the 2007 season. But there's no one on or around the team who is satisfied just yet because there's more to do. And by the time the're done, the Dolphins have a chance to write some NFL history.

The Dolphins are in control of their playoff destiny and will win the AFC East if they can close out the season with victories over the 49ers Sunday, at Kansas City on Dec. 21 and at Giants Stadium against the Jets in the finale on Dec. 28.

Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, no team has ever made the playoffs the year after going 1-15. Even if they fall short of that goal, the Dolphins still could produce the best post-1-15 record by going 10-6.

Of the seven previous teams that finished 1-15, the two with the best record the following year were the 1991 Colts and the 1996 Jets, who both finished 9-7.

We probably don't need to remind you that the coach who took over the Jets in 1997 was none other than Bill Parcells, who deserves a good deal of credit for turning the Dolphins around.

The Dolphins' 8-5 record is tied for the best after 13 games for teams that finished 1-15 the year before. The other team that started 8-5 after going 1-15 was those same 1997 Jets. In fact, none of the other six teams had a winning record through 13 games.

In addition to making history, the Dolphins' turnaround will put Tony Sparano right in the thick of the race for NFL Coach of the Year. He might get hurt by the perception that it's Parcells' show, but there's no question his coaching has had a lot to do with the team's success, and it would be a shame if it didn't get properly recognized.

We're not suggesting he automatically be given the award, but he most definitely belongs in the top handful of candidates.

The short list of candidates no doubt will include Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Atlanta's Mike Smith, Baltimore's John Harbaugh and maybe the Giants' Tom Coughlin.

Both Atlanta and Baltimore are coming off really bad seasons, but neither the Falcons or Ravens were anywhere near as bad as 1-15 last season.

So don't be surprised if Sparano wins the award. Even if he doesn't, the Dolphins already have made this a season to remember.


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