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Monday, December 17, 2007

Unneccessary Celebration

So the Dolphins won their first game yesterday and reacted like they just won the AFC championship game. "Hey guys, let's show everybody how desperate we were to win a game and how terrible even we thought we were this season and celebrate like its Kiefer Sutherland's first night back at a bar." Shouldn't Cam Cameron have told his team to keep their cool and act like professionals if they won? This is the NFL, where teams are supposed to win at least three games no matter how terrible they are. Atlanta has been through a hell of lot more than the Dolphins and they haven't celebrated their three wins like a bunch of fifth graders who won their thanksgiving basketball tournament. Maybe the problem with the team is they didn't actually expect to win any of the games they played, if so, that's definitely on the coach.

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Well, I guess I should defend the Dolphins a little here, right?

First of all, it's debatable that the Falcons have been through as much as the Dolphins, at least not during the season or prior to last week. Sure, they lost Vick, but it was before the season (though not much) and Petrino quit, but not until this past week. For most of the season they were a relatively healthy team (check out their IR, the only players of note are the washed up trio of Rod Coleman, Wayne Gandy, and Brian Finneran and then the servicable Todd Weiner).

The Dolphins, on the other hand, also lost their starting QB (though admittedly he's washed up in his own right), Ronnie Brown who was the best RB in football until Adrian Peterson blew up, Zach Thomas, 4 safeties (in other words, they are now starting guys who weren't on the depth chart to start the season), Ricky Williams (okay, he probably didn't matter too much), and 2 dudes who were supposed to compete for the LG job. With the exception of Ronnie, Zach, and Yeremiah Bell none of those players have Pro Bowl potential, but it's still a hell of a lot more talent than Rod Coleman, right? Plus, the Phins have been relentlessly mocked (rightly so) for not winning a game. It takes its toll, too.

The Phins have also lost more games by 3 points or fewer than any other team in the league(6 compared to Atlanta's, um, 0). In other words, while Atlanta's been rolling over at least the Dolphins have been competitive.

Statistically the Dolphins have a better defense and only a slightly worse yardage offense (2 yrd/game) while having a significantly better scoring offense (16.8 vs 13.4, Atlanta is the league's worst). The point is, the Dolphins are awful but they aren't historically awful. Hell, according to metrics they aren't even the worst team in the league this year. In a neutral site game played tomorrow, would the Falcons be favored?

Yet the Phins kept losing--nothing excuses this. They lost and deserved to lose. All of the talk was about them not winning a game and their owner was thinking of selling the team and so they had an exciting finish to the game and celebrated. Why would you possibly care? Why don't they deserve to feel happy about having that monkey off their back? It's not like they taunted the Ravens or claimed the celebration was about anything more than avoiding the infamy of being winless. After the game, the players were happy but self-deprecating and most realized the absurdity of having celebrated but weren't about to apologize for it.

And I don't think they should have. They won. They were happy. It probably would have been half as jubilant had it not come on a long play in OT, but it did and scoring like that seemed to make it something special. I mean, the owner was crying in his box.

Unlike the Falcons who fought and snapped at each other all season, the Dolphins played hard and didn't fracture as a team as they kept losing. To finally win was cathartic. Fans and players surrounded the guy who scored the touchdown, those who wanted to prayed in a circle, and they walked off the field.

Isn't this why sports are great? If you want to watch teams not care when they win or lose, watch basketball. Calling a team out for showing passion is just petty. They cared. Good for them.
I wasn't in any way saying that the Falcons are a better team than the Dolphins or deserve more praise. I also understand that the Dolphins were excited to win the football game, especially in the manner they did. However, the extent of the celebration is what bothers me. If it was Duke that won its first game of the year, I would absolutely agree that they have every right to celebrate like its 1999. The Dolphins are professionals. The players and the coaching staff are being paid massive amounts of money to win football games in a very, very competitive league. I don't understand how they can celebrate like that when they have shown how inept they are as a team. When Tomlinson ran that touchdown in against the Titans in OT, the Chargers didn't swarm the endzone and excessively celebrate. Tomlinson showed off, the team congratulated each other, and they shook hands with the Titans. They expected the win and reacted as such.

I liken the Dolphins to being part of a surgical team that consistently has the lowest quality outcomes at a surgical center. If they successfully perform one surgery, they shouldn't be celebrating. They just did their job. The Dolphins finally succeeded in the job they are employed to perform and they reacted like they couldn't believe they won a game. I don't think there should be no passion, I think there should be personal accountability and pride. Enough pride not to react to one win like it was the super bowl.
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