No. 110: Miami Dolphins

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 6, 2012, 6:09 PM ET
By Andy Kamenetzky | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 101
Title track: 101
Ownership: 107
Coaching: 102
Players: 97
Fan relations: 114
Affordability: 97
Stadium experience: 109
Bang for the buck: 89

For most fans, having your team partake in HBO's Hard Knocks brings about fears of losing focus as a result of the 24/7 cameras. (The fact that the team went ahead and did the show anyway hints at how deteriorated the relationship between fans and the Fins has grown.) "Fans have, for a long time, felt disconnected from the team," explains The Phinsider's Kevin Nogle. "The Dolphins have always executed things behind closed doors, and rarely spoke about what they did. That worked fine when you are getting to the playoffs." But given how Miami has missed the playoffs nine times in the past 10 seasons, Nogle figures fans will embrace potential distractions from Hard Knocks if the trade-off is transparency.

Perhaps a peek behind the curtain can provide reassurances that new head coach Joe Philbin -- the fifth new coach since 2000 -- won't follow in the misguided footsteps of Tony Sparano, Cam Cameron, Nick Saban and Dave Wannstedt. Or that general manager Jeff Ireland has a clue how to build a team, a case hardly built during a brutal offseason in which the team lost out on the Peyton Manning/Alex Smith/Matt Flynn(!) sweepstakes, traded its best receiver (Brandon Marshall) and released Yeremiah Bell, the leading tackler four seasons running. (As a result, fans staged a protest outside the headquarters.) Or perhaps it can even break the perception that owner Stephen Ross isn't, as Nogle puts it, "too much into the non-football aspect of the game, and is just out to make a profit." Hard Knocks as a gap-bridging mechanism? Who'd a thunk it?