Second-half siege

The Dolphins need to overcome the late-season collapses that hang around their necks like a weight.

Updated: November 7, 2003, 6:41 PM ET
By Steve Young | Special to ESPN.com

With half of the season in the rear view, the Miami Dolphins are garnering a lot of attention because of their quarterback situation. There's been a lot of discussion over which quarterback, Jay Fiedler or Brian Griese, gives them the better opportunity for second-half success. But, frankly, if the 'Phins don't establish the run, neither quarterback will be able to help them down the stretch.

The Dolphins' No. 1 priority needs to be re-establishing their running game. In his last five outings, Ricky Williams has been held to only 313 yards. They're going to need much more effectiveness on the ground if they're hoping for a late-season surge.

Brian Griese
Griese
Jay Fiedler
Fiedler

Now, in terms of which quarterback gives them the better opportunity for success, I tend to sway towards Griese, who is more physically skilled than Fiedler. Griese has a better sense of timing. He reads a page ahead and gets the ball out more efficiently. He's also more likely to execute big plays.

But while Griese is more skilled, keep in mind that he's a mellow guy. Sure, he'll fire you up by completing passes, but not by screaming and motivating in the huddle. He lacks those types of essential intangibles that Fiedler possesses in extreme pressure situations. Fiedler exhibits leadership qualities and has a fierceness about him that can effect the motivation of his team and ultimately, the momentum of a game.

If you could mix Griese and Fiedler together, they'd make the perfect quarterback. But since that's not happening any time soon, the Dolphins must focus on the run and on making some big chunk plays to carry them through a successful second half.

For the last couple of years, the second half of the NFL season has been the Miami Dolphins' undoing. Poised to be Super Bowl contenders, the Dolphins have either missed the playoffs or made early exits.

Last season, the Dolphins fell out of playoff contention by losing their final two contests, most notably their devastating overtime loss to the Patriots which cost them the AFC East title. And in 2001, they were ousted in the wild-card round with a 20-3 loss to Baltimore Ravens.

The Dolphins late-season collapses hang like a weight around the neck of the entire team, and perhaps the worst thing they can do is ignore it. If I were coaching the Dolphins, I'd hit it straight on. Talk about it. Heck, make it a rallying cry, complete with T-shirts and bumper stickers saying, "Never Again!" -- Whatever it takes to keep it at the forefront of everyone's mind, because if it's there, then it matters.

Pretending that it doesn't matter only adds more weight, particularly when faced with high-pressure situations. If the issues aren't out on the table, then it becomes a "thing." And the last thing you want your players thinking in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line is, "here we go again."

Miami's focus doesn't need to be on its quarterback situation. The focus needs to be on running the ball and breaking old habits and finishing the season as strongly as it began.

Steve Young

Sunday Night NFL Countdown analyst
Pro Football Hall of Famer and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young is an NFL analyst for ESPN. He travels to the Monday Night Football city each week for Monday Night Countdown and the pre- and post-game editions of SportsCenter. Young also contributes to ESPN's annual Super Bowl and NFL Draft coverage, including the past five years (2006-10) on ESPN's main set at Radio City Music Hall.

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