Prognosticators continue to pile on the Miami Dolphins.
Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk Live on NBCsports.com, is the latest to predict the Dolphins to fall to the bottom of the AFC East. He sees the Bills as a team on the rise and – cover your eyes, Dolfans – has the Jets moving past the Patriots to the top of the division.
Florio does like the Dolphins’ defense, and see promise in their success on the road (6-2) last season.
“If they can figure out how to win at home, maybe they won’t be in the basement. Maybe they’ll be a pretty good team,” he said this week on PFT. “I’m going to predict that won’t happen and that they’re going to land in the basement.”
Preseason predictions serve only as a flashpoint to get fans fired up before the games really count. One thing is clear, if the Dolphins are significantly better than most forecasts, they need to show it early.
After going 1-7 at home in 2010, it is critical to impress potential tickets buyers in the first two weeks when they host the Patriots and Texans. Although the opener is expected to sell out, the Dolphins made it known this week that sales are lagging for the Texans game, which could end a more than decade-long streak of avoiding the local TV blackout.
After that, the Dolphins don’t play at home again until Oct. 23 in the meeting with the Broncos that has stirred a hornet's nest of anger and ridicule about the plan to honor the Florida Gators’ 2009 national championship team. That follows visits to Cleveland, San Diego and the Jets.
Anger could quickly turn to apathy if they arrive home looking like the cellar-dweller many are predicting. A few early wins may not appease ‘Canes fans, but could retain the attention of a fan base that doesn’t need much of an excuse to check out early.
Florio and others see the Dolphins’ playoff drought continuing, signaling the end for Tony Sparano as coach, despite the contract extension he received in the offseason. One reason he cites is skepticism about making Reggie Bush the featured running back.
“He has a great decoy value, but I don’t know that he’s going to become that high-end running back, even if he stays healthy,” Florio said.
All of which provides plenty of incentive for Bush, hailed as the hardest worker in training camp, and Sparano. Not merely to make all the so-called experts look foolish. More importantly, to keep Dolphins fans from abandoning ship.