Skolnick: Style, stats show Dolphins' strong start is sustainable
Some want to believe this isn't real.
Some of those someones are Dolphins fans.
After all, we've seen this before.
The two best seasons the Dolphins have had since 2003?
They started 1-2 in 2008, pre-Wildcat, and soared to 11-5 to take the AFC East behind Chad Pennington and Joey Porter.
They started 1-4, and rode Jay Ayayi and an improved Ryan Tannehill to a wild card spot.
And they've started other seasons well, and slipped. They were 3-0 in 2013 and finished 8-8. They were 2-0 in 2010 and finished 7-9.
So it's reasonable to suspect this isn't sustainable. Two weeks is a measly sample size.
Need evidence of how silly some of this stuff can get, this early?
The NFL's passing leader is Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The NFL's rushing leader is Matt Breida.
The NFL's receiving leader is DeSean Jackson.
With respect to Jackson's speed, no one had any of those three in their projections. Jackson, nearly 32, isn't even deemed the most dynamic receiver on his team.
Even so, you can draw some conclusions.
And this start looks better than 2010 and 2013.
The first two wins in 2010 were real struggles, as the Dolphins scored a total of 29 points against the Bills and Vikings, teams that finished a combined 6-22. The Dolphins' first two wins this season were against the Titans and Jets, neither expected to be exceptional, but both of which won their other game impressively.
The 3-0 start in 2013 looked a little better, even though the opening victim -- the Cleveland Browns -- ended up 4-12 as did the third, the Atlanta Falcons. The second win was against the eventually 11-5 Colts, and the Dolphins did average 24.7 points in those wins. But the defense looked shaky, and the floor collapsed the next four games. The team was also getting next to nothing out of its draft picks, from Dion Jordan on down; and while prized free agent acquisition Mike Wallace looked OK, new veteran linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler weren't living up to the hype.
Compare that to this season.
Stingy defense is typically more replicable than potent offense, especially when the strengths of the defense are in pass rush and in secondary coverage. The Dolphins appear to have that time, more than in any recent season. They also are getting major contributions from their offseason additions, from the veterans (Robert Quinn, Frank Gore, Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola) to the rookies, with Minkah Fitzpatrick flashing the most by far so far. And they are running the ball effectively, with more attempts per game than any team in the NFL, after finishing 32nd in that category last season.
They feel fresh.
They feel.. alive.
They're even taking end zone selfies together.
(This from the organization that brought you Bullygate.)
It almost feels like a new team, and the last two times the Dolphins did anything at all, they were playing for new coaches -- Tony Sparano in 2008 and Adam Gase in 2016. Gase is still in charge, but he now has more players who fit his personality and playing style.
Will this last?
But it could. And that's more hope that they've offered in a while.