Miami Dolphins in Serious Need of the X Factor

Sam DeerhillContributor IDecember 28, 2009

MIAMI - DECEMBER 27:  Cornerback Sean Smith #24 of the Miami Dolphins reacts after safety Gibril Wilson #28 dropped an interception that was deflected against the Houston Texans at Land Shark Stadium on December 27, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Texans defeated the Dolphins 27-20.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

I must preface this article by saying that the New Orleans Saints definitely have some things to work out as they head into the playoffs. Two straight losses, including an overtime defeat to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers , have certainly put a chink in their armor.

Nevertheless, the Saints' 13 wins is impressive and as a lifetime Miami Dolphins fan, I long for the day the Dolphins put up another 13+ win season–the last time being a long 25 years ago.

Back in Week 7, the Dolphins had the Saints on the ropes looking for the TKO. But with the Saints down by 21 points, they got the ball back just before halftime, marched down to the 1-yard line and took a 7-point gamble. The payout: Momentum, with a capital 'M.'

They came out a different team in the second-half, fought like Rocky Balboa, and won the game.

Of course, Coach Tony Sparano took the blame for those points, by taking a costly timeout, which gave Quarterback Drew Brees the time (25 seconds) to convince his coach to go for the touchdown. But that also put the mojo back in the team from N.O.

Yesterday against the Houston Texans , the Dolphins also came out flat and were down by over 20 points heading into halftime. They, too, got the ball back at the end of the second quarter. They, too, marched down the field. They, too, smelled the end zone.

But alas, that is where the comparison ends. They got inside the 10-yard line with one timeout in hand. Chad Henne threw the ball three times. Their efforts yielded them a meager three points, and sadly they still had that timeout. They got momentum with a lower-case 'm.' Enough to make it a game, but not to get the coveted 'W.'

And that's the problem with these Dolphins. They can't convert when they need to. Too many times lately, they have bullied their way down to the red zone to come up with only three points or even turn the ball over.

Barring a miracle, the Dolphins are heading into the offseason come next Monday. And at that point, the Dolphins top brass must find the X factor that will allow them to optimize on their first chance, because as we learned yesterday, the NFL is not about second chances. You either punch it home or go home.

But who do you think will be Dolphins X factor in 2010?