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How Quickly Things Change
Updated 11-25-02
What a difference a couple of weeks make. It seems like a lifetime ago that Dolphin fans, yours truly included, couldn't wait to see Lucas not only ride the bench, but ride the first train out of town. But after pitiful games against the Bills and Packers, and an "average at best" game against the Jets, Lucas has seemingly changed from a pumpkin to a magical stagecoach, carrying the Dolphins to Cinderella's Ball. And the fans that hounded Lucas like wicked step-sisters, have be changed to coachmen, ready to hand the reins to Lucas permanently. And so the debate begins.

So what should we do? Should we stick with Lucas, who has improved each week? Or should we bring back Jay Fiedler, the rightful starter who went 5-1 before his thumb injury? I think you don't have to look any further than recent history to see the answer.

Dolphin fans should look back to the last time we rushed a QB back from injury. In 1999, Dan Marino went out with an injury in the first quarter against the Patriots. Damon Huard came in, and led the Fins to a 5-1 record before Marino was rushed back into service against Jimmy Johnson's old team, the Cowboys. The results were disastrous. Dan threw 5 picks, and the Dolphins were shut out, 20-0. In fact, the Dolphins went 2-6 with Marino at the helm, ending with the rout at Jacksonville.

Last year, Bledsoe gets hurt. Brady comes in, and after a rocky start, leads the Pats to the Superbowl. This year, the Rams start 0-5. Warner goes down, and in comes Bulger who wins 5 straight. When Warner comes back against the Redskins, they lose. Now I'm not saying that Warner/Bledsoe are poor QBs. (In fact, Warner put up some good numbers against the `Skins.) And I'm not saying that Brady and Bulger are better QBs. But sometimes, a player will come off the bench and will hit a hot streak. And in those cases, I think that you should ride those players for all they are worth.

Wait a minute! Am I suggesting that Lucas is on a hot streak? Actually, I am. Or at least it would appear that he is. I know, I know. He is 2-3 as a starter. But if you look at each of his games, you will see an improvement in each game. After a porous outing against Buffalo, Lucas struggled at Green Bay. However, his QB rating almost doubled against the Packers versus what it was against the Bills. Then, against the Jets, Lucas had a average game at best, but his QB rating skyrocketed to 104. However, fans will remember his costly fumble, his throws that were almost picked off, and ultimately, the 13-10 loss at the hands of the hated Jets.

But then the Ravens came to town, and suddenly, Lucas appeared to get into sync. He completed 69% of his passes, and while he did not throw a TD pass, he was not picked off either. Then against a stout Charger defense, Lucas continued to improve. His TD pass to McKnight was a thing of beauty, and he ended the game with a QB rating of 102. But more importantly, he was not picked off, and he did not make any costly mistakes. And something else to consider; the players around Lucas are hitting a hot streak as well. And that is something you don't want to disrupt.

Now I have been critical of Fiedler in the past. But I don't want to appear so here. As I have stated for the past couple of months, I have gained a world of respect for Jay Fiedler. His flawless performance against the Patriots and his come from behind win against the Broncos with a broken thumb really impressed me. But let's be honest here. What should be the most important thing to Dolphin fans? Winning, plain and simple. And so you have to consider which QB offers us the best chance to win right now. That would be Ray Lucas in my opinion. At least for the immediate future.

Why is that you ask? Well, there are at least three reasons that come to mind. One, because he has improved every game since his first start. He seems to be in sync with the offense right now as I stated before, and putting Fiedler back in could be disruptive to an offense that is hitting its stride.

The second reason is because Fiedler traditionally, is rusty when he comes back from injury. And right now is not the time the Dolphins offense to go through another QB adjustment. Especially in a divisional showdown that the Dolphins need to win to remain ahead in the AFC.

The third reason is because it will be cold in Buffalo, and the cold could cause some problems for Fiedler. Especially if he is not completely healthy. (How numb do your hands get when you don't wear gloves in 30 degree weather? Add an injured thumb into the equation, and you can hopefully see what I'm getting at.) This would only compound the problem if Fiedler has some rust.

There is a saying, and I'm paraphrasing; "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Against the Bills this week, Lucas should start. And if Lucas continues to improve, then he needs to continue as the starter. I am of the opinion that if Fiedler is rushed back into service prematurely, the clock could strike midnight early for the Dolphins, and we will be stuck with a bunch of pumpkins, and no ticket to the Ball.