AFC East: Winless Miami Headed to "Gator Day"

Big name signings, famous celebrity appearances and the Dolphins still can't find a way to get the fans excited. Winning might help, but maybe a Tim Tebow homecoming will solve the problem. Dolphins stil struggling as "Gator Day" approaches.

Dolphins return home for 'Gator Day'
Sports Xchange, Oct 17, 2011.

   The Miami Dolphins haven't been home in more than a month but, at last, they will be this weekend when the Denver Broncos come to town. Amid the Dolphins' poor start - and the mediocrity that has enveloped the team in consecutive 7-9 seasons - empty seats have been common at Sun Life Stadium.

   Which is why, of course, the Dolphins during the preseason decided that their game against the Broncos would be dubbed "Gator Day" - a celebration of the University of Florida's 2008 national championship. The Gators won that BCS championship against Oklahoma at Sun Life Stadium.

   The Dolphins' plan to honor the Gators might have seemed a bit odd, but at least innocent enough. After all both the Dolphins, with center Mike Pouncey, and the Broncos, with quarterback Tim Tebow, featured players who played a prominent role in Florida's 2008 championship.

   But now there's only one problem: Tebow is no longer a backup.

   Instead, the former Gators star - a beloved figure in the state of Florida - will be making his first start of the season against the Dolphins. The Dolphins' decision to honor the Gators had already been panned in South Florida - especially given it appears to be a slight towards the University of Miami, which also plays its home games at Sun Life Stadium.

   But now, given that Tebow will be attempting to lead his team to a victory against the Dolphins, the "Gator Day" celebration seems even more shortsighted. Not that the Dolphins don't have more pressing issues.

   They entered their Monday night game at the New York Jets hoping they'd figured out some of the problems that have plagued them in the early season: the red-zone inefficiency, the lack of creating turnovers on defense, the big plays in the passing game they've allowed.

   "I think we've identified some of the things that we hadn't done well and spent a lot of time (on those things)," coach Tony Sparano said. "There will be no excuses that way. There won't be any excuses about not spending time working on the deep ball. There will be no excuses that way. We need to go out there and do it now."


   LINEUP WATCH: Hamstring injuries have been an issue for the Dolphins throughout the early season, with most of their injured players succumbing to such ailments. Two players who have missed time recently, though, are closer now to full strength than they have been in a while. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas and third-year cornerback Vontae Davis recovered nicely during the bye week from the hamstring injuries that had forced them to sit out in recent weeks. Thomas adds a dimension of power to the Dolphins' running game and Davis is a skilled cover corner whom the Dolphins need in the lineup.

   BY THE NUMBERS: The Dolphins' 1-7 home record a season ago did nothing to inspire the local fans in South Florida. And neither did their 0-2 start at home this season. The Dolphins this weekend are seeking their first home victory since Nov. 14 of last season, when they beat Tennessee. \

More Miami  news at  Dolphin Digest

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