It’s no secret that some of the most important games in an NFL season are those among your own division. From battling for first place, wild card races, to just all out rivialry, these games are some of the toughest, most gruesome, hardest fought games of the year.
No matter how teams are playing, or how good or bad they are on paper, when it comes to these divisional games, it always comes down to who wants it more and who’s going to fight for that extra inch.
In the past two years, the Miami Dolphins have had a shot at the playoffs; they held their own destiny in their hands. Standing in their way? Divisional rivals!
The Bills and the Jets in 2013, and the Jets in 2014. Despite the fact that Miami had the better record and team on paper, the Dolphins were unable to wake up for the games and ultimately lost them all, convincingly, falling short of the playoffs both years.
A lot of the blame could be put on former Dolphins Head Coach, Joe Philbin, and the rest of the coaching staff at the time, for not getting the team up for the games. Philbin and his staff are known for having light practices and lacked heavily in the motivational department. After this seasons week 4 thrashing that saw the Jets beat down the Dolphins in London, the answer was clear. Owner Stephen Ross knew that enough was enough, and it was time to implement a change.
Insert Dan Campbell as Interim Head Coach, along with some other notable changes, such as the firing of Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle and naming former Defensive line coach Lou Anarumo as his replacement, the Dolphins were not going to be that lackluster team anymore that simply walked through practices all week. Things were going to change, things were going to get tougher, and things were going to get a lot more competitive under this new coaching regime.
The Miami Dolphins came flying out of the gate right away under Dan Campbell and looked to be the team everyone thought they were going to be before the season started. With back-to-back convincing wins, the Dolphins were then set to have their next two games against division rivals, the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins ultimately lost both divisional games in spectacular fashion, dropping their AFC East record to 3-5 overall, 0-4 in the AFC East.
How can a team expect to make the playoffs when they are 0-4 in their division?
So, as week 12 approaches, with the season quickly coming to an end, if the Dolphins have any hope of salvaging their season and making the playoffs, it’s going to have to start this week, against their divisional rivals, the New York Jets.
It’s not going to be easy, the Dolphins are going to have to want it more than the Jets, fight for it more than the Jets, and flat-out perform better than the Jets. The Dolphins need to have that “fire in their eye”, that kill or be killed mentality, and go out there and rage war against the Jets.
It’s time for the Dolphins to wreck havoc on the Jets, their divisional enemies, and finish this season off right.