Dolphins emerged from drama a stronger team

Dolphins emerged from drama a stronger team
December 12, 2013, 11:30 am
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The circus tent erected over the Miami Dolphins in the wake of the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito mess has been taken down.
 
The next shiny thing – Mike Shanahan vs. RGIII – has emerged and the Dolphins are back to playing football without the attendant scrutiny about how they are responding and whose job is in jeopardy.
 
The grander societal issues the bullying allegations brought to the fore have been and will continue to be addressed. But the football team emerged from the scrutiny a little more unified, it seems.
 
“We responded in the right way,” wide receiver Brian Hartline said this week. “But overall nothing really changed. Everyone wants to think that there was some miraculous change, but nothing changed. The situation really for all intents and purposes was not in the locker room. The individuals were outside the locker room, they were not on the team.

"The biggest hole that we had to fill wasn’t any quote, unquote, distractions, it was the fact that we were missing two staring offensive linemen and if that happens to any team in the NFL it can cause some rifts and getting guys to step up and play. But we had that and guys were able to step up and make some plays that kept us in games, we didn’t pull all of them out, coming out of that, but we still played well and at this point some guys are getting more and more comfortable in the positions they are in.”
 
Bryant McKinnie, who replaced Martin, has been very solid on the left side and the sacks allowed by that position are down. Miami is running for more yards per carry since Incognito and Martin departed.
 
Sacks allowed by Sam Brenner, who replaced Incognito at left guard, are coming less frequently than when Incognito was in there as well.
 
Bill Belichick told the Miami media that, "I think the media blew a lot of that out of proportion - all the hype and everything, but that didn't derail them in any way. They've been on track. If you watch them play on film, you wouldn't have any sense that whatever else has been in the media has affected the team. They've just gone out there and played very, very competitively every week."
 
Sunday, the Dolphins host a Patriots team in a game that can either enliven or extinguish Miami’s playoff hopes. Martin and Incognito are far from the Dolphins’ minds, said Hartline.
 
“Really in the end and we have grown through it and we are looking forward to these next three game opportunities,” said Hartline. “You guys can kind of understand, New England always demands your full attention, so to think of anything other besides that would be doing ourselves a disservice."