Season Suddenly Very Interesting

It's amazing how quickly things can change. Just a little over two weeks ago, the Dolphins were limping home after a crushing loss to San Diego that also cost them starting quarterback Chad Pennington. Now, the Dolphins are on an absolute high as they head into their bye.

Now, there's reason for hope for the rest of the season and, yes, that includes even a return to the playoffs.

Think of how absurd that would have been after that loss to San Diego when the Dolphins stood 0-3 and the only question, it seemed was just how long the 0 would stay if they couldn't beat Buffalo in Game 4.

The idea of beating the likes of New Orleans next weekend or winning at New England the following week would have seemed ridiculous.

Now? Does anybody really want to discount the Dolphins' chances?

Did the Dolphins not look like a team that can beat anybody the way they came back against the Jets?

Remember how it seemed the Dolphins flat-out didn't have the team that could come back to win a game? Guess what, against the Jets, the Dolphins overcame deficits in the fourth quarter not once, not twice but three times.

The Dolphins trailed 13-10 before Anthony Fasano scored, it was 20-17 before Ted Ginn Jr. scored his long touchdown, and finally it was 27-24 before Ronnie Brown scored his game-winning touchdown to send the crowd at Land Shark Stadium into a frenzy.

While we mentioned it, wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that the Dolphins couldn't complete a pass downfield? Well, that 53-yard connection sure looked impressive.

There really are some many reasons to be encouraged right now, and you obviously have to start with Chad Henne.

Nothing he did in his first start against Buffalo inspired great confidence, even though he did all that was asked of him and took a back seat while the Wildcat dissected the Bills.

Against the Jets, the Dolphins really needed Henne to come through and, boy, did he come through.

That third-down touch pass he threw to Greg Camarillo right after the two-minute warning was as pretty a pass we've seen around these parts in a long, long time ... maybe ever. That's how good a throw it was.

And the third-down laser he fired, again to Camarillo, to get inside the 5-yard line was another thing of beauty. It also was a throw that Chad Pennington simply doesn't have the arm strength to make.

So all of a sudden, just like that, the Dolphins passing game has a new dimension.

Not that the Dolphins are going to need Henne to bail them out every game. Because the way the Wildcat is performing, the Dolphins offense is going to be a handful for any opponent.

Heading into Monday night's game, one of the big stories was how Rex Ryan had found the secret to stopping the Wildcat because Baltimore had success in two meetings against Miami last year.

So much for that idea. Maybe the Ravens had success because their defensive line simply was too physical for the interior of the Dolphins offensive line, which is now much better thanks to the return of Donald Thomas and the addition of Jake Grove.

The truth is nobody has stopped the Wildcat this season. There's a reason the Dolphins lead the NFL in rushing, so Calvin Pace can say all he wants that it's nonsense, but what really would be nonsense would be for the Dolphins to stop using the Wildcat.

Now, we certainly could do without seeing Pat White in there because he really doesn't add anything to the offense at this time, but that's another matter.

It's really difficult to complain about anything the Dolphins are doing on offense these days after they scored 38 and 31 points in their last two games.

Again, who would have seen that coming after the San Diego game?

The defense right now has some catching up to do, particularly against the pass, but there's reason for optimism there as well, starting with rookies Sean Smith and Vontae Davis.

It sure won't be easy against Drew Brees and the Saints, but it's really not that hard to envision the Dolphins rushing for 175-200 yards in that game and limiting Brees' opportunities.

This season already has some similarities to last year in that the Dolphins suffered a bad loss out West early in the season and rebounded with a 38-point effort against a division opponent the next week (at New England last year, in case you forgot).

There also are some similarities to the 2001 New England Patriots, who got off to a 0-2 start while losing their veteran starting quarterback to an injury before turning to a second-year player from Michigan.

That team was 2-3 after five games and that quarterback was Tom Brady, and the Patriots ended up 11-5 and Super Bowl champions that season.

Now, we're not suggesting the Dolphins are headed for a Super Bowl title this season. But to think this season might end up being a successful one no longer is a ridiculous notion.

And that's a long way from where the Dolphins were just two weeks ago.


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