The 1999 Season...Painful Memories Relived...Can we avoid a repeat?

ckparrothead

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I have a reason for bringing this up.

We're 5-1 right now, our starting quarterback is injured. Assuming we win against the Bills and the Packers win against the Redskins (both feats equally probable) then both the Dolphins and the Packers head into a Week 8 matchup coming off a bye week at 6-1.

Sound familiar? Let me take you back to 1999. It was Week 8 in the NFL. Dan Marino received an injury in Week 6 action against the New England Patriots. Damon Huard came in as the backup quarterback and led us to victory over the Eagles in his first start of the season, Week 7. We now faced an opponent that was a Super Bowl contender, just like the Dolphins. They were 6-1, we were 6-1...ready for a showdown in Miami.

We would go on to win that game, after Sam Madison performs a hat trick on QB Steve McNair by intercepting him three times. We shut out the 6-1 Titans to win the game 17-0 and go on to an astounding 7-1 record for the first half of the season. Then the wheels started falling off. We got destroyed and our offense exposed by the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 action, as Damon Huard's inexperience and lack of talent became obscenely obvious.

"Hurry back Dan Marino! Hurry back! We need you!" we all shouted. Our super bowl bid seemed to hinge on how fast Dan could get back after that loss. Luckily for us, Damon Huard had one left in him as he took us to victory over the New England Patriots 27-17. The defense on that day intercepted Drew Bledsoe an astounding 5 times. Huard was efficient. Gadsden spectacular, and JJ Johnson recorded his very first 100 yard day. But, Damon Huard suffered a broken nose in the victory and was now questionable for next week's game on Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys.

But to our surprise and delight, Dan was healthy again! Or so it seemed. Jimmy Johnson rushed Dan back from rehab because Damon now had a broken nose and we were faced with the very real possibility of Scott Zolak starting. But then came the Cowboys game on Turkey Day. Dan Marino, who obviously was not completely healthy, still rather inexcusably threw 5 interceptions in a horribly horrendous debacle...guiding us to a 20-0 loss against the Cowboys. "Thats ok," we thought. "Danny just wasn't quite ready to come back yet, it was obvious" Jimmy Johnson wanted nothing more at that point than to bench Dan Marino in favor of the 5-1 Damon Huard (including his bailout of Danny in a week 6 win over the Pats 31-30). But he was handcuffed. Danny's injury wasn't all THAT bad anymore, and he was the Dolphans' man. Besides, they now went up against a Colts team that Danny had a great amount of success against passing the ball. But this time the defense fell apart, allowing the Colts to crack us open for 37 points in what would become a 34-37 loss in Miami...a loss that Dan Marino would later account was one of the most painful of his career.

Jimmy Johnson still was itching to bench Dan but this loss surely was not Dan's fault. He put up 34 points. The defense got victimized by Edgerrin, Peyton, and Marvin. So we trudged on. Went up to NY where the newly resurgent Jets under the fiery gun of phenom Ray Lucas out-dueled us 28-20. We were swooning. Our defense was falling apart in the redzone and couldn't handle the costly turnovers that were being created by Danny boy's weakened gun. Now was our chance to get back on track against the lowly Chargers. But Dan faltered again, and we barely scraped out a 12-9 in on Olindo Mare's foot. We now faced the Jets again and an opportunity for revenge...an opportunity to right our season at home in Miami and get ourselves back on track for the playoffs. The fiery Ray Lucas came into our house on a day when Danny boy led us to 31 points of offense...and still we were outgunned by Lucas 38-31 largely because of three very costly interceptions, one returned 100 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins, downtrodden and depressed now faced a meaningless game in Washington, where Norv Turner's offense was making waves as one of the most dangerous in the NFL. The outcome mattered very little. Dan saved most of his juice for the playoffs which were already sealed. We finished 9-7.
 

ckparrothead

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We now walk along a similar path with notable differences in the circumstances. A cast of familiar faces from that 1999 season now graces OUR roster. But the point still stands. We have a starting Quarterback in Jay Fiedler...a guy who has been given a large contract. A guy who Dave Wannstedt would be extremely reluctant to bench. Why? He has different reasons than Jimmy Johnson did. Johnson was faced with a Miami crowd and media that would have ostracized him had he benched Dan Marino for reasons that were not wholly explained by injury. Dave Wannstedt is coming off an experience in Chicago where he switched Quarterbacks too easily, and it led to absolute disaster. He now has a guy at quarterback with a knack for winning, who lacks the talent to be a consistent pro bowler, and a reputation of toughness. This is not a situation in which Wannstedt could find himself easily benching Fiedler.

Just like in 1999, our starting QB took a serious injury in Week 6 action against a tough team...a team who we eeked out a win against despite the injury. Just like in 1999, we face a situation where its probable that in Week 8 we will be facing a team poised for a run at the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers who will be at 6-1. Should we win that game, I'm sure most will say that we are super bowl bound, just like in 1999. Also like in 1999, our starting Quarterback may be ready to come back on the eve of December.

I just thought the similarities were all very neat. There are some things we know that are different about this team...things that are better about this team...that lead us to believe that we are not on the same path as those 99 Phins. But there are also things that we do NOT know, things that could go wrong that did go wrong in that season. In 2000 we were faced with a situation where Jay Fiedler played through injury and got dismantled late in the season by a few good defenses (notably the Bucs debacle). Could the same thing happen when Fiedler comes back this year? In 1999, our running game wasn't looking all that bad before Dan went out and it was looking pretty good when Damon Huard was in (prompting speculation that benching Dan favors the running game). The OL was part of the problem that year. Could our cinderella offensive line also fall apart in the second half of this year, leading Ricky to struggle a bit? Most notably in 99 our defense began to collapse...in a pattern that has been repeated pretty much ever since 1998 all the way through 2001. Could that happen again this year?

Here's to hoping that Ricky Williams, Chris Chambers, and Norv Turner are all the difference we need.
 

ckparrothead

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Yeah but how do you know that Ray Lucas won't prove to be similar to Damon Huard. I mean are going to see the Ray Lucas who led the Jets to a 6-3 record with the help of Curtis Martin, Keyshawn Johnson, Wayne Chrebet, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis?

Or, are we going to see the Ray Lucas of 2000 who led the Jets to a drubbing by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game in which hardly any offense was produced...a game that ended 20-3 and definitely gives off shades of what Damon Huard could accomplish against the Bills in his lone loss as a starter.

One thing that keeps raising my eyebrows is when everyone keeps saying about Ray Lucas how he led the Jets to a 6-3 record and had 14 TDs and 6 Ints, with less offensive talent than the Dolphins currently have. That makes me do a double take. What? Less? The Jets had Curtis Martin uninjured and in his prime, a pretty good OL, Keyshawn "one-handed TD" Johnson, Wayne Chrebet, Dedric Ward, and I believe the offensive coordinator at the time was Charlie Weis, who if I'm not mistaken happened to do a pretty good job a offensive coordinator of the Patriots last year, and was doing a pretty good job this year for the Pats before the defense decided not to stop runningbacks anymore.
 

DPlus47

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i recently watched the tape of that titans game in '99, and the big difference between the teams is the obvious one: norv's offense and ricky. i seriously felt like fast forwarding to when the titans had the ball. except for that one big play to martin in that game, they were godawful. i think ricky is making this line look better, and as long as they stay healthy, this is about what we're gonna get. i support fiedler wholeheartedly, but i'm excited about lucas. he is in a contract year, and i'm thinking he'll do well. his nfl future depends on it. i would never have been in favor of a benching, but i don't think there will be a lot of drop-off now. i guess we have to wait and see. That's a good observation about the jets and weis with all that talent, but i'm thinking this team is all right talent-wise. just look at the tight end position. and there is definitely more speed at wide receiver, although we haven't really utilized that yet. and that's not to mention the defense, which i think is a lot more ready to pick up any slack this year. we'll have to see...
 

DPlus47

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and i hate remembering 1999. i'm really thinking this team is different. definitely more fun to watch on both sides of the ball.
 

ckparrothead

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Point taken there's definitely some favorable differences this year.

Ricky Williams over Karim al-Diesel Johnson.

Norv Turner over Kippy Brown.

Chris Chambers over Tony Martin (although at this point in CC's career I really think the difference between 2002 CC and 1999 TM is very negligable).

I wasn't trying to disrespect our offensive talent. Lord knows we've got some talent. What I'm saying is that when comparing our offensive talent to the 1999 Jets, everyone keeps wanting to say that Lucas has more talent around him this time as if its so obvious. Its not. Keyshawn was at the time building the reputation of one of the top 3 WRs in the league. Wayne Chrebet was looking a lot better than he is now. Dedric Ward was still there and looking pretty darn good for a 3rd WR (there were Jake Reed comparisons). Curtis Martin was (and still is) in his prime, completely uninjured. I mean thats at the very LEAST a tossup on Ricky Williams, if not just outright better. Charlie Weis, well I already talked about that
 
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