Posts Tagged Pittsburgh Steelers
Words mean things no matter how you meant them.
That’s something my father taught me at a very young age and it still resonates today.
James Harrison, the star linebacker of the Pittsburgh Steelers, had a collection of not-so-nice ones to say during a May sit down with Men’s Journal for a piece that will be featured in the August issue.
In it, he bashed teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall, and absolutely lambasted Commissioner Roger Goodell, calling him a crook, racist and the devil. The story broke on Wednesday and by late Thursday, Harrison was attempting to do some damage control.
“I’ll start by offering my apologies for some of the words that I said during the four days in May that Men’s Journal was invited to my house to discuss what the NFL has recently been portraying as their attempts at player safety rules and regulations,” Harrison posted on Twitter.
He continued: “I did make comments about my teammates when I was talking about the emotional Super Bowl loss, but the handful of words that were used and heavily publicized yesterday were pulled out of a long conversation and the context was lost.“
And the grand finale: “What I do apologize for and take full responsibility for is for speaking in such a candid manner to someone outside the team.”
Regardless of the apology, the Steelers organization should suspend Harrison a minimum of two games for his comments, which I’ll review shortly. You don’t throw your teammates under the bus to the media. Ever. For any reason. Especially to the degree that Harrison did.
This mistake requires an apology much more heartfelt then one posted on Twitter. Give me a break. He probably typed it with one hand while holding up the other with his middle finger raised.
He should be a man, stand in front of the cameras and plead forgiveness to everyone he insulted.
My favorite parts of his statement are in bold. Start with the second clip, where Harrison says he takes full responsibility for speaking so candidly. He posted that just moments after blaming the interviewer for taking his words out of context, so he’s actually taking zero responsibility for his words.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Journalists at every level go into an interview with a pen, a pad, a prepared set of questions and a voice recorder. Nothing else. We don’t sit there and try to memorize the interviewee’s words and then throw them into a story later. Every question and answer is recorded straight from the mouths of the person asking and answering the questions.
Whoever interviewed Harrison didn’t twist his words. You said what you said, James. Own up to it.
He told Men’s Journal that Roethlisberger, who threw two interceptions in the Super Bowl XLV loss to Green Bay, needs to stop trying to play like Peyton Manning because, while he gets paid like him, he’ll never be as good.
In a world where players are judged (wrongfully) by the number of titles they win, Roethlisberger is actually better than Manning. He has played in three Super Bowls to Manning’s two. Big Ben has won two, Manning one. Harrison has championship jewelry because of his quarterback, not in spite of him (see game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLIII against Arizona).
One could understand if Harrison were to rip Roethlisberger for his off-the-field troubles, but to laud another franchise quarterback while degrading your own is senseless, especially in this case.
Crazy James also called Mendenhall a fumble machine, another unwarranted diss. Mendenhall fumbled twice in 324 carries in 2010-11. He has lost the rock five times in 585 career carries. That’s one fumble for every 117 touches.
No. 92 needs to get his facts straight. He should have pointed the finger at himself for recording a whopping one tackle in the Super Bowl. Or blame the secondary for allowing Aaron Rodgers to look like Dan Marino in throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
The offense scored 25 points, more then enough to win with a good defense. Take responsibility for that, James.
How the Steelers decide to react should be the least of Harrison’s worries.
Goodell’s reputation is lost due to the ongoing lockout, which is said to be nearing a resolution. As soon as one is officially set in place, he’ll be chomping at the bit to wield his power and make an example out of Harrison.
Along with the aforementioned labels he stuck to the commissioner, Harrison called Goodell a puppet, dictator, and even threw in an anti-gay slur. He also encouraged him to quit and start a flag football league. To top it off, he said he hated Goodell and that if he was on fire he “wouldn’t piss to put him out.”
It’s no secret that most players don’t hold Goodell in the highest regard. Imagine the lack of respect they’ll have if he doesn’t come down hard on Harrison.
No matter how you feel about your boss, you don’t question his authority in public and you never call him out in the disgraceful manner that Harrison did.
Harrison held nothing back in his rant and Goodell would do well to hit back with blunt force. If the Steelers suspend him for two games, Goodell should tack on 14. If I were the “dictator,” I’d see to it that he didn’t play a down this season.
Think that’s too harsh? Next time you see your boss, walk up and say verbatim everything Harrison said about Goodell. You would be escorted out of the building and never allowed back in, facing the real possibility of never finding a job in your field again.
With that in mind, one season seems fair.
The NFL season is down to its final game and fans couldn’t ask for a better matchup.
Super Bowl XLV features the Packers and the Steelers. Arguably the league’s hottest team against the steadiest.
Aaron Rodgers versus Ben Roethlisberger. Arguably the league’s best quarterback against its steadiest.
That’s what this game boils down to. The flavor of the week (Green Bay) trying to knock off a franchise that has been there and done that both recently and throughout the course of football history.
Pittsburgh has won six Super Bowls, including two of the past five. It is a perennial contender and the model of consistency, yet the Steelers seem to be stuck in the middle of the league’s pecking order, behind Indianapolis, New England, Dallas, Baltimore, and even the Jets.
Why that is I’ll never know. The general lack of respect or whatever it is is evident in this game as well. The Steelers finished 13-3 and were crowned champions of the AFC North. The Packers squeaked into the playoffs at 10-6. Guess who is the three-point favorite in Vegas? Not Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have the better defense, better running game, better coach, and have more experience on this stage, so it must come down to bookies preferring Rodgers over Roethlisberger.
I would take Rodgers over Big Ben too, but not by much.
Rodgers may have to steal the show for Green Bay to win because, as we have seen throughout this postseason, you aren’t going to run effectively against the Steelers defense. Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Shonn Greene couldn’t do it, so why should anyone believe Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are going to?
The problem is, despite his 121-yard performance in the AFC Championship Game, I don’t see Rashard Mendenhall doing much against B.J. Raji and the Packers’ front seven either, especially with center Maurkice Pouncey out of the game.
As has been the case all season, this game will come down to the quarterbacks. If you have been reading my playoff predictions then you know I said from the beginning that the easiest way to pick playoff winners is to simply pick the team with the better man under center.
You would also know that I picked a Green Bay-Pittsburgh Super Bowl back in September, but what I never mentioned is who I picked to win.
That would be the Packers, and while I’m skeptical at best, I’ve been riding Green Bay all along and refuse to reverse the pick now.
I love the Steelers and all they are about. Say what you want about Roethlisberger as a person, but one can’t deny his greatness and incredible toughness between the lines. The defense anchored by Troy Polamalu has been the best all year and Mike Tomlin might be second only to Bill Belichick on the NFL’s coaching hierarchy.
But I can’t get Rodgers out of my head. His 344 yard and four touchdown performance in Atlanta three weeks ago still lingers. He has also taken his team to and through two of the NFL’s toughest backyards in Chicago and Philadelphia.
Dallas will mark the friendliest confines the Packers have seen since hosting the Bears in Week 17, and their offense on turf is a scary thought.
Think back to the last time they played on turf. Rodgers racked up the above numbers and the offense scored 48 points in a one-sided affair against the Falcons.
Pittsburgh’s defense is on another level then Atlanta’s, but Green Bay’s isn’t chopped liver. It has, in my opinion, the league’s best player on that side of the ball in Clay Matthews, and other studs such as Raji, Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams.
Big Ben is the hardest quarterback to bring down and because of that he turns a play that looks disastrous into a thing of beauty. I just don’t see him getting out of Raji or Matthews’ grasp, and Green Bay’s corners matchup well against Roethlisberger’s targets.
On the flip side, look for Rodgers to exploit the Steelers weakness at corner. Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor can’t stick with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones for 60 minutes.
Rodgers knocks off the Steelers and with that goes the pesky monkey off his back. After tonight, he will have all Packers fans saying “Brett who?” if they aren’t already.
To many, Green Bay is just the flavor of the week, but yours truly saw this coming all along. The Steelers will be back, but tonight belongs to the Pack. Green Bay wins 24-17.
AFC/NFC Championship Games: 2-0
The good lord had a funny sense of humor this morning during my drive home from Buffalo.
Due to the hilarious set of unforeseen circumstances, I don’t have the time to provide the thorough analysis that the NFL’s conference championship games deserve, so I bring you an abbreviated version.
Whether you believe it or not, I called a Steelers-Packers Super Bowl back in September and I am sticking with my initial instinct.
In Week 17, Chicago went to Lambeau Field with nothing to play for. It had the No. 2 seed wrapped up and had every right to rest its starters for the meaningless game.
Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith did the smart thing, however, in playing his starters for the duration of the game in an effort to beat the Packers to ensure his bitter rivals wouldn’t stand in the way of a trip to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for the rest of the NFC and now the Bears, Chicago failed that day as the Packers won 10-3, clinching the sixth and final playoff spot.
Green Bay didn’t look very good that afternoon, but no one has looked better in the past two weeks. Aaron Rodgers may have established himself as the best quarterback in the NFL and their defense made two potent offenses, the Eagles and Falcons, look pedestrian.
When the playoffs started I said the safest thing to do when picking these games is to go with the team that has the better quarterback. Rodgers is playing better than anyone right now and Jay Cutler, despite delivering a solid performance against the Division I Seattle Seahawks last weekend, is still Jay Cutler; a mistake prone headcase. And the Packers aren’t the Seahawks.
It’s supposed to be freezing cold at Soldier Field this afternoon, but the Bears aren’t hosting Miami. They’re hosting a team that is used to playing in those conditions, hence the infamous “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” reference made famous by ESPN’s Chris Berman.
The weather won’t be an advantage as it was last weekend against Seattle, and while the Bears defense might be slightly better than Green Bay’s, no one is stopping Rodgers right now.
Rodgers stays hot in the Windy City and Green Bay is headed to Dallas for its first Super Bowl appearance since 1998. Packers win 23-14.
In the AFC, the Steelers host the Jets with sights set on claiming their third conference championship in the last six years.
New York won at Heinz Field, 22-17, late last month to get itself into the playoff mix and should have plenty of confidence heading into this game after pretty much dominating the seemingly unbeatable New England Patriots last weekend.
If the Jets were to pull this off it would cap one of the greatest playoff runs in league history as they would have reached the Super Bowl by eliminating this generation’s three best signal callers- Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
I say the road stops here. The Jets beat a weak Indianapolis team and a New England team that was ripe for beating after having the momentum of the previous two months derailed by the bye week.
As great as the Patriots were this season, they are very green on defense and it showed last week. The Steelers defense is a different animal and they will spend the afternoon harassing Mark Sanchez who is going to have to win this game himself because no one runs effectively against the Steelers.
Does anyone in the world think Sanchez has what it takes to carry an offense on the road against the league’s best defense in freezing cold weather, where he tends to really struggle? Didn’t think so.
New York’s defense is rock solid and should keep the game close for much of the afternoon, but Roethlisberger will eventually be helped by a turnover or two that will put the Steelers over the top.
Thankfully we won’t have to listen to Rex Ryan and Bart Scott run their mouths for the next two weeks. Steelers move on, 21-10.
Last week: 3-1
The NFL Playoffs are off to a great start and so are my predictions.
Three of Wild Card Weekend’s four games were decided on the final possession and I finished 3-for-4, only missing on the Saints-Seahawks, but just about everyone was in the wrong there.
The most intriguing part about the Divisional Playoffs is that all four games are rematches from the regular season. The Steelers and Ravens, and Jets and Patriots played eachother twice in divisional play. Seattle and Chicago battled in Week 6, and Green Bay and Atlanta went at it just after Thanksgiving.
Of the six games between the teams, four were decided by a field goal, so fans should be in for more late-game drama this weekend.
What happened during the regular season: These bitter rivals split the season series with each team scoring a three-point road win.
There are times when three-point games aren’t as close as the score indicates, but that wasn’t the case here. The Ravens won 17-14 in Pittsburgh thanks to an 18-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining. Pittsburgh returned the favor two months later when Ben Roethlisberger found Issac Redman for a nine-yard score with just under three minutes left, vaulting the Steelers to a 13-10 victory.
Why Pittsburgh will win the rubber: There are a number of reasons to pick from. They’re at home. They’re rested. They have Big Ben. Their defense is better.
I think it boils down to playing with a healthy Roethlisberger because when they do, they almost never lose to Baltimore. He has won six straight and is 8-2 in 10 career starts against the Ravens, including a win in the 2009 AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger threw for 253 yards and a touchdown in his lone start against Baltimore this season. He missed the first meeting while serving a suspension and Pittsburgh still only lost by three.
Like every game between the NFL’s two most physical teams, this game is going to be a bloodbath. Having last weekend off will have the Steelers fresher late in the game and that might be the difference.
Why Baltimore will win the rubber: Simply because the Ravens are due to win one of these games. It’s weak reasoning, I know, but it truly is that cut and dry.
Look at the box scores from recent games between these two and you’d be hard pressed to find one standout performer on either offense, which is usually where analysts look when searching for a reason to pick a team. These games are controlled by the defense and the winner is usually the one who has the ball last or the team whose offense is set up with great field position thanks to a turnover created by the defense.
In fact, that’s how both won their game during the regular season. Baltimore’s game-winning drive in Week 4 was a four-play, 40-yard drive. Pittsburgh’s was three plays and nine yards. Not exactly John Elway versus Cleveland.
Ray Rice didn’t muster a game’s worth of production in two against Pittsburgh’s defense and Flacco was just okay. One of them needs to step up and Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Co. must make the Steelers’ offense one dimensional. If they do that and create a perfectly timed turnover, the Ravens will break through.
They almost did it on this field in 2009 when Flacco was still in diapers. Let’s see how far he’s come.
Prediction: Unless Ray Rice has a monster game, I don’t see Baltimore winning. The Steelers are rested and playing at home. The Ravens are playing their second road game in six days. That will have a big impact down the stretch. Roethlisberger delivers again. Steelers win, 16-12.
What happened in the regular season: The host Falcons defeated the Packers 20-17 in their Week 12 matchup.
The Falcons took the lead three times and each time the Packers responded with a score of their own. Their final rebuttal came with 56 seconds left when Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson from 10 yards out, tying the game at 17.
Matt Ryan answered by marching Atlanta 20 yards in six plays to set up Matt Bryant’s game-clinching 47-yard field goal.
Why Atlanta will win the rematch: Because they’re the NFC’s best team and have been all season. Consider this: of the Falcons’ three losses, one was in overtime at Pittsburgh, and one came in the final minutes against the Saints in a game they basically gave away after leading for much of it.
Their only bad showing came in mid-October, a 31-17 shellacking at Philadelphia.
The Falcons offense reminds me of the Cowboys unit from the mid-90′s. Ryan is Troy Aikman in that he doesn’t always overwhelm you with numbers, but he wins with efficiency and always seems to deliver when he is needed most. Micheal Turner is Emmitt Smith; a small bruiser of a running back that mixes power with speed and always ranks among the top three backs in football. Roddy White looks a lot like Michael Irvin because he serves as a big target for his quarterback and is great as a possession receiver or a deep threat.
Dallas had more to work with at backside receiver, but with respect to Jay Novacek, Atlanta has a much better tight end in Tony Gonzalez.
It’s going to take a great performance to beat arguably the NFL’s most sound team with that three-headed monster. Add that to the fact that Ryan has a 20-2 record at the Georgia Dome and it becomes very difficult to bet against Atlanta.
Why Green Bay will get its revenge: I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Aaron Rodgers will not be denied.
Rodgers won his first playoff game last weekend in Philadelphia, hardly an easy task. The elements, the stage, and a tough Eagles defense did little to disturb Rodgers, as he threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns and controlled the game throughout.
He threw for 344 yards and a touchdown and ran for 51 yards and a score in the November loss to Atlanta, and the scary part is, those numbers could be better on Saturday.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Green Bay used five-receiver sets on 14 plays in their first meeting. Rodgers went 7-for-9 for 95 yards and added a rushing touchdown as well. The Packers would be foolish not to use these sets more often because clearly the Falcons have trouble defending them and Rodgers is comfortable running them.
Prediction: I love the Falcons and all that they bring to the table, but I can’t bring myself to pick against Rodgers right now. Because he is so great, I didn’t get the chance to talk about the defense. That unit, led by Clay Matthews, is a force to be reckoned with.
It held Michael Vick to just 32 yards rushing, and the Eagles to 81 total yards on the ground. I think they contain Turner and put the game into the hands of Atlanta’s brilliant, young quarterback. Ryan isn’t ready to outduel Rodgers and will still be searching for his first playoff win come late Saturday night. Packers win, 27-23.
What happened in the regular season: Seattle went into Soldier Field and notched its best win of the season, defeating the Bears 23-20.
Chicago struck first, but the Seahawks controlled the game from that point forward. They led 23-13 late in the fourth until Devin Hester gave the Bears a chance with an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown. Seattle recovered the ensuing onside kick, wrapping up the upset victory.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 242 yards and a touchdown and the defense sacked Jay Cutler six times.
Why Seattle will win the rematch: Because their defensive pressure will again be too much for Cutler to handle.
The easiest way to beat Cutler is by knocking him around early. He tends to have a quick trigger under pressure and can trust his arm strength too much at times, as evidenced by the 42 interceptions he has thrown the past two seasons combined.
The most surprising thing about the first meeting was that Cutler played a turnover-free game despite getting hounded all day by the Seahawks’ front seven.
Seattle’s offense could have a hard time moving the ball against a rested Bears defense, so it will be on its defense to confuse Cutler and force him to play faster than he’d like. If they can come up with three turnovers, a second consecutive upset win will be within reach.
Why Chicago will get its revenge: Because despite losing the early-season meeting to Seattle, the Bears are a much better team.
Thanks to the bye week, Chicago had a chance to sit back and rest and Seattle won’t be in the comfort of its own stadium this week. Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz had an extra week to prepare for the rematch and I expect their protection schemes to be much better this time around.
I also can’t see the Seahawks scoring 23 points again against the Bears defense, which ranked ninth in the NFL this year and surrendered just 17.9 point per game.
Cutler could have a field day against the Seahawks, who gave up nearly 500 yards of offense to New Orleans.
Prediction: Frequent readers of this site know how I feel about Seattle, and as surprised as I was by its performance last weekend, I would be even more shocked if they pulled this one off. It is a sub-.500 team for a reason.
QWest Field is one of the toughest places for opponents to play and the vaunted “12th Man” definitely helped the Seahawks against the Saints. They won’t have the extra support this week, and were just 2-6 on the road in 2010.
I think we’ll see an inspired performance from a Bears defense that probably feels it has a score to settle from the first meeting. Brian Urlacher and Co. control this one from start to finish. Chicago moves on, 30-13.
What happened in the regular season: The Jets and Patriots split the season series with each winning by double digits on their home field.
The Jets won 28-14 in Week 2, while New England had the statement victory of the NFL season, a 45-3 Week 13 spanking on Monday Night football for all of the world to witness.
Tom Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns and the Patriots defense turned Mark Sanchez over three times.
Sanchez was at his best in the early meeting, throwing for 220 yards and three touchdowns, outplaying Brady, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Why New England will win the rubber: Because they have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Together they have won 14 playoff games and three Super Bowls. Brady is likely to be named the NFL’s MVP after posting a ridiculous 36-4 touchdown-interception ratio, and Belichick should be named NFL Coach of the Year after the job he did with a squad that is supposedly rebuilding.
The Patriots haven’t lost since early November and won six of their last seven games by 21 points or more, scoring no less than 31 points in any of the seven games. The defense has hit its stride as well, giving up seven points or less in four of five December contests.
New England is 8-0 at home this season and has been as dominant as any team in the last decade.
Why New York will win the rubber: Because Head Coach Rex Ryan has been able to convince his players that they are capable of anything.
The key to beating the Patriots is believing that you can get it done and not being intimidated. Since the beginning of their run of excellence in 2001, many teams have walked into Foxboro defeated before the coin was flipped.
Ryan won’t allow that to happen. His defense is playing well, and while Sanchez remains a liability, he stepped up and delivered big time against the Colts with the season on the line last Saturday. The way the Jets came back and stole that game after trailing with 53 seconds to play could have them more confident then if they went into Lucas Oil Stadium and won by 20.
The Jets made no secret that getting past Peyton Manning was a major hurdle mentally and that win could be exactly what New York needed as it tries to cut down another giant.
Prediction: With December’s 45-3 loss fresh in my mind, it is very difficult to paint a scenario where the Jets win.
Yes they won in Indianapolis, but that was against a Colts team that was as weak in 2010 as it has been since Manning entered the league.
Rex Ryan has visited Gillette Stadium twice and the Jets lost both games by a combined score of 76-17. After a week of sitting quietly while everyone on the Jets ran their mouths, New England will be ready to do its talking on the field.
One down, one to go for a return trip to the Super Bowl for Brady and Belichick. Patriots win, 34-17.
Sources reported late Tuesday night that Dolphins Owner Steven Ross has reached out to Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh and former Pittsburgh Steelers legend, Bill Cowher, to gauge their interest in taking over the team.
It’s understandable for both men to be on Ross’ radar. Like Harbaugh, Ross is a Michigan alum and one of the school’s biggest donors. If he decides to bolt Stanford for a shot at the pros, Harbaugh will be the hottest coach on the market after leading the Cardinal to a 12-1 record, capped by Monday night’s 40-12 thrashing of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Conveniently, the game was played at Sun Life Stadium, the home of Ross’ Dolphins, and Ross and General Manager Jeff Ireland were on hand to watch their new prospect.
Cowher has everything an owner is looking for in a coach. Previous NFL experience. Winner of Super Bowl XL. Great football mind. Respect of his players and peers. Most of all he brings a brand name and that might be what Ross truly covets after seeing his stadium half full for most Dolphins home games this season.
Either one would be a great hire, but at this point there is no certainty that either is going to be available. Harbaugh could remain at Stanford or take the Denver or San Francisco job, and there are reports that Cowher is content working at CBS for another season.
Regardless of their availability, Ross must pull the plug on Tony Sparano. The time has come, for a number of reasons.
We can start with the fact that with each passing minute it becomes more evident that Ross simply doesn’t want Sparano back. If he did, he wouldn’t be putting him on ice while searching for a better replacement. It’s getting to the point of no return, where Ross almost has to fire Sparano because the longer he drags out this search, the harder it is going to be for players to put all their eggs in the basket for him should he return next season.
He is going into the final year of his four-year contract, so technically he’s already a lame duck coach. Knowing this, and that the owner was out scouring for his replacement, how do you think players will respond to Sparano next season if it turns sour? Ever heard of turning a deaf ear?
If Ross wanted Sparano back, he would have given his full endorsement by now. If nothing else, Sparano put everything he had into the job and represented the organization in the classiest way possible. Stop dragging this out and let the man go; he deserves that much.
Another reason to move forward now is that it may not take a poor start or a weak finish for players to tune out Sparano, as it appears he may have already lost his locker room. Since Sunday, a number of players have spoken out against his micromanaging style and how it made the work environment unbearable at times. First it was Ricky Williams and then Brandon Marshall. Then Brian Hartline. Then Channing Crowder.
Excluding Hartline, the other three are considered to be the most outspoken Dolphins, meaning they have the guts to tell it like it is. You have to think there are others that share their opinions but are afraid to speak up. Can Ross bring Sparano back if a mutiny is on the horizon eight months before next season is set to begin?
The biggest factor in Ross’s decision should be that the results just aren’t there. The NFL is a cutthroat, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league where the bottom line- wins and losses- is all that matters. After leading Miami to an 11-5 record and AFC East championship in his first season, Sparano’s teams have finished 7-9 in each of the last two years.
Many predicted that 2009 would be a step-back season for Miami, but 2010 was one of high expectations. In fact, Ross himself predicted in June that the Dolphins would play in the 2011 Super Bowl and quarterback Chad Henne would be the next Dan Marino. Since Miami missed the playoffs for a second consecutive year and Henne stunk, 7-9 should be deemed unacceptable.
Consistency has been missing under Sparano, especially the last two years. The Dolphins alternated wins and losses for eight consecutive weeks this season before dropping their final three games. They only won two straight games once, beating the awful Bills and Vikings to start the season, and haven’t won three straight since December 2008.
Most disconcerting has to be how Miami performed during the past two Decembers. The best coaches have their teams playing their best at the end of the year when games are most important. With that said, Sparano can’t be considered one of the NFL’s premiere head coaches.
In 2009, the Dolphins were 7-6 and in control of their playoff destiny. They finished the season against three teams that failed to qualify for the postseason- Tennessee, Houston, and Pittsburgh- but lost all three games and had to watch the playoffs from their living room.
This season, Miami was again 7-6 and mathematically alive for a playoff berth. It’s last three opponents were 3-10 Buffalo, 4-10 Detroit, and New England.
The Dolphins were eliminated from contention following a pathetic Week 15 performance, a 17-14 home loss to Buffalo. The following week they hosted the Lions and lost 34-27 after blowing a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to play. To finish the year, Miami went to Foxboro and got drubbed 38-7 by the Patriots’ junior varsity squad. Two straight years finished with three straight losses.
After three seasons, Sparano’s resume looks like this: 25 wins, 24 losses, one playoff appearance, zero playoff wins, and a 3-7 post-November record.
Looks mediocre to me. This once proud franchise should strive to be something more than middle of the pack.
It’s time for a change.