AFC East: Cowher Power In Miami?

The Dolphins remain winless after another brutal fourth quarter collapse. head coach Tony Sparano has no answers. Is it time for another coach in Miami, and will Bill Cowher be that guy?

Hot Seat Getting Hotter For Sparano

   The Miami Dolphins are 0-7 following their latest inability to hold a fourth-quarter lead, and there is far more conjecture about how long coach Tony Sparano can last than there is about when Miami will finally pick up a victory.

   Bill Cowher refuted reports that surfaced last week that the Dolphins had already reached out to him.

   "You can only avoid the elephant in the room for so long," defensive end Jason Taylor said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "There's so much media nowadays and (it's) getting fed from so many different angles media-wise, it's hard to escape it. You're going to hear it, you're going to see it, you're going to be asked about it, particularly in your home market.

   "You do your best to ignore it, but sure, there's an elephant in the room, and you have to realize you have nothing to do with it. You can't control it. The only thing you can do to control it is play well and win games. It's something that's hanging out there, and people are going to talk about it because people love to talk."

   It's becoming increasingly difficult to envision Sparano lasting the remainder of the season. He signed a contract extension after owner Steven Ross' bungled attempt to court Jim Harbaugh last offseason, but it appears almost certain someone else will be manning the Dolphins' sideline next season. And as Taylor admitted, the swirling speculation is a distraction for a team that has more of those than it can handle.

   Sparano, who said he put his South Florida house on the market because his children no longer live at home and not because of his uncertain future as the Dolphins' head coach, continues to believe his team just needs to build some positive momentum.

   "I've been 0-5 before in Washington with Marty Schottenheimer. We won a bunch of games," Sparano said. "We won one, then we won two, and then we won eight. So I just think we just got to win one. And not worried about eight at this second right now. We're worrying about winning one and that's the Kansas City Chiefs. So that's what we're really to do that here. We're going to put this game to bed and get moving towards Kansas City."

Sparano unsure what keeps causing fourth-quarter failures

   One of these days, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano believes, his team will break through. Miami will finish a game in the fourth quarter -- and it will break the long, miserable losing streak that has hung over the Dolphins since the beginning of the season.

   Until then, though, Sparano and the Dolphins are left to figure out why the same kinds of breakdowns keep happening. And they seem to happen most often in the fourth quarter.

   Three times this season, the Dolphins have entered the fourth quarter with the lead. And three times they haven't been able to hold onto it.

   The latest collapse came Sunday against the Giants. New York trailed 17-10 entering the final quarter but escaped with a 20-17 victory. The week before, against the Broncos, the Dolphins lost in overtime after leading 15-0 in the final three minutes of regulation.

   "I don't know that doubt late in the games becomes an issue as much as, I don't know, circumstance," Sparano said. "I mean, I can't tell you what the players are thinking. I can't tell you that they're out there thinking that something can go wrong in those situations."

   At 0-7, the Dolphins' playoff hopes have all but evaporated. The season seems lost, but Miami players -- and Sparano -- refuse to believe they can't turn it around and build some sort of momentum during the second half of the season.

   Sparano defended his players Sunday and insisted they'd played with heart and courage. The issues at the end of the game, Sparano said, have been a result of the Dolphins' failures to come up with a key stop on defense or a key play on offense.

   "The common thread to me is that eventually you have to make those plays," he said. "You have to make those plays in the fourth quarter that you were making. ... They weren't doing anything different. In other words, the Giants didn't do anything different."

   And unfortunately for the Dolphins, neither did they. Their fourth-quarter collapse was nothing new.

More Dolphins  news at: Dolphin Digest

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