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The Dawning of a New Era
Friday, March 8, 2002. Remember this date. Years from now, today will be known as one of the most important dates in the history of the Miami Dolphins franchise.
Today marks the dawning of a new era in Miami, for today is the day that the Dolphins exorcise the ghost of Dan Marino and finally become what they've pretended to be for the past half-decade - a smash-mouth running team that can steamroll it's opponents with a vicious ground attack, leaving bruised and battered bodies in their wake.
Believe it or not fellow Dolfans, the Dolphins once again have a legitimate offensive superstar to call their own. Ricky Williams will breathe new life into this boring, stagnant franchise and will electrify fans of the aqua and coral around the globe. The twenty-four year old, 235-pound plus, tree-trunk-legged battering ram RB hasn't even begun to tap his potential, but I predict that he will explode in the Norv Turner offense. Ricky was made to play in this offense, and he will thrive in his new environment. Who woulda thunk it - the Miami Dolphins have a franchise running back!
Ricky William alone will make the entire team better. The offensive line will improve by blocking for a back that can see holes and hit them with authority, and who can break tackles and gain yardage on his own. The passing game - even Jay Fiedler - will improve because opposing teams can no longer stack the line and ignore (and laugh at) our running game. The defense will get even better, because Ricky will churn out yards and eat clock, letting the D stay fresh on the sidelines.
Now, I know there are knocks against Ricky. He doesn't have breakaway speed. His hands are too small. He's not a team player. He fumbles. Nothing I write will change anyone's opinions, but consider these points. When Ricky ended his career at Texas, he had amassed more rushing yardage than any player in the history of the NCAA. Not bad for a guy with small hands who fumbles! And yes, Ricky has fumbled more than you'd like. In 38 NFL games he has fumbled 20 times. But you have to take the good with the bad, and by the way - Edgerrin James has fumbled 16 times in 38 NFL games. I'm also confident that the Dolphins' coaching staff - far superior to that of the Saints, in my opinion - will help Ricky a great deal. As far as speed, I think it's often overrated. And Ricky has been timed in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash, which is far from slow. Also, in college Ricky was known for breaking off huge runs on a weekly basis, so lack of speed wasn't even an issue. Williams is a player that works to keep his body in incredible shape, and by all accounts he practices as hard as anyone. He expects nothing but maximum effort from those around him, and if that makes him selfish, I'll take it.
One other point to ponder - the Saints' organization is a complete mess, from the executives to the coaches and players. When Jim Haslett - the head coach! - is arguing with Cris Carter, Albert Connell is stealing money from his teammates, and Joe Horn is (reportedly) having an affair with Willie Roaf's wife - you know there's something wrong. Incidents like this take their toll on players, and it's no wonder the team - and Williams - floundered at the end of '01. The Dolphins' organization, in contrast, must look like paradise to Williams.
Make no mistake - this is a monumental move and one that can catapult the Dolphins all the way to the top. I have criticized Dave Wannstedt and Rick Spielman pretty harshly in the past, but I am in amazement that they pulled this deal off and took a shot at greatness. I tip my hat to you, Dave and Rick, and I offer thanks for restoring my faith in this proud franchise.
Sit back and enjoy the ride, Dolfans. Say it loud and proud, and believe it this time - "WE HAVE A RUNNING GAME!!!!"
Ricky Williams made the Saints contenders. He will make the Miami Dolphins champions.