While there’s no question that the Dolphins shot themselves in the foot to eliminate themselves from playoff contention, there are a few other factors that played into it as well.
Some of these factors are large and still looming, while others are more subtle. But they all involve the NFL itself.
We’re not saying that the NFL favors the Patriots over the Dolphins, but you have to look at some factors. One of these factors is the unbalanced schedule.
The NFL’s schedule makers hold enormous power. What seems like a “fair and balanced” schedule never really is. For example, the Saints had to travel to Foxboro to play New England. The Saints had to travel to New Jersey to play the Jets. The Saints lost both games.
But when it came time for the Saints-Dolphins game, they made Miami travel to the Superdome, on a Monday night no less. It simply isn’t fair.
The NFL must figure out a better system. “Common opponents” is used as a tie-breaker, but it does not consider where the game was played. Ridiculous.
The Dolphins finished in THIRD place in their division this season, and finished NINTH overall in the AFC. So in theory, we should play a lot of 7-9, 8-8, and 9-7 teams next year. But instead, we have to go to Denver to face the NUMBER ONE OVERALL team. You make a ninth place team go on the road to face a Number One? How is this fair?
Also unfair is the whole Jonathan Martin situation, which continues to fester and linger after 4 months. How long does it take to interview a few guys? How long does it take to figure out who said what? Ban Richie Incognito if you want, but don’t make us wait 4 months. Tell us that Jonathan Martin got his little feewings hurt, but don’t take 4 months. The “ongoing” drama that we heard about all year should not have been ongoing at all. The NFL could have sped this whole thing up to give Miami closure and the ability to move on.
Some of the lesser factors involve a few plays in the last two games. In week 16, Brian Hartline missed a pass against Buffalo near the sideline. A Bills defender came in and nailed Hartline from behind. A flag was rightfully thrown. The only question was if it would be a late-hit penalty, or a helpless-receiver penalty. Suddenly, a few other refs ran in from about 40 yards away. The far-away refs decided that the close-up ref was wrong. The flag was picked up.
In Week 17, Mike Wallace went down for a pass and a Jet jumped him from behind way too early. The ref who was nearby saw the whole thing and rightfully threw a flag. Again, a few other refs from 30 yards away came running in and said “no penalty.”
It is ludicrous the the NFL allows this. No more consultations.
It’s why the National Hockey League has the best referreeing system in the world. When an NHL ref sees a penalty, that arm goes up and the player is escorted to the penalty box. Other refs do not skate over and make him un-see what he just saw. When you see a foul, you call it and enforce it. Period. When will the NFL learn?