Swimming With the Fishes

The $8 million man will lead the Dolphins out of the desert. Honest.

Yet South Florida can hold no bitterness.

Herewith, we imagine Seau's bust in Canton: Tiaina Seau Jr.... Drafted fifth overall in 1990 out of USC... made a dozen straight Pro Bowls with the San Diego Chargers... named to 1990s team of the decade... racked up more than 1,350 tackles, 15 interceptions, and 50 sacks... closed his career with a few nondescript years in Miami and New England... not a faggot.

The Sting of Truth

Genius. Hard-ass. Iceberg. If Nick Saban were a variety of fruit, USA Today's Larry Weisman recently wrote, he'd be "tart and tangy, even pungent," a descriptor that joins a long list of appellations for Saban. In truth, the coach is nothing if not a game-day poet, given to flights of verbal flourish that would stir even the Bard himself to genuflection. Do you think you know your Sabanisms? Then see if you can pair the stoic coach's comments from last season with the game that precipitated them:

1. "I saw a lack of execution in technical fundamental things that created a lot of frustration because of a lack of success."

2."It's important how you respond to good things and bad things... This is one game in a long season."

3."The most important thing that we still want to promote with our team is, get better as a team, improve as a team, play the best football we can play, and build for the future of what we want to try to accomplish here."

4."We need to improve our ability to play with discipline, especially on the road, especially in the beginning of games."

A.A comeback win over the Jets last season that briefly put the Dolphins in the playoff picture

B.The nadir of last season, a 22-0 loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns

C.A dreadful loss to Buffalo in which Miami set a team record with 18 penalties

D.An opening-day thumping of the favored Broncos last year, Saban's first win as an NFL head coach

FUN FAKT!

When Coach Saban declined a dinner invitation from George W. Bush in July, he said it was to focus on preparing his team. Nice try, coach! As everyone knows, true conservatives loathe this deficit-inflating, warmongering president — and Saban, who when down 9-0 last year in Cleveland ordered a punt from the Browns' 33-yard line, is nothing if not stunningly conservative!

Five-Finger Indicators

Nowhere is the Dolphins' swoon from perennial title contender to also-ran more apparent than in the foam novelty hands that fans have worn to symbolize each season. Here are illustrations of each year's most popular stadium hand along with the season record (2006 projected): Click for PDF

FUN FAKT!

Ricky Williams may have failed yet another drug test, fled to play with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and suffered a broken arm during a game in July. But take heart! Quantum physicists have confirmed that in an alternate universe in which Williams postponed recreational drug use until after retirement, turf toe injuries would have held him to only 273 yards and one touchdown on 87 carries this season — scarcely worth the $545,000 salary he forfeited!

Road to XLI

Look, we're not saying this Dolphins team will be one of the greatest of all time. But these plucky marine mammals have a chance to be the greatest Dolphins team since, well, the last great Dolphins team — especially since half of their opponents were last season's dregs (with records of 6-10 or worse). If our projection of the season highlights stands, Daunte should be going to that Disney nirvana in January:

Thursday, September 7, at Pittsburgh Steelers

Why the Dolphins will win: The Dolphins have won 12 of their past 14 opening-day games.

Why they could lose: The Steelers have won one of the past one Super Bowls.

Edge: Miami, by a busload

Sunday, October 8, at New England Patriots

Why the Dolphins will win: For some reason, Tom Brady rarely plays well against Miami.

Why they could lose: For some reason, Tom Brady is the player of the century so far.

Edge: Miami, by a razor's edge

Sunday, October 15, at New York Jets

Why the Dolphins will win: The Jets will be J!-U!-S!-T! Dreadful! Dreadful! Dreadful!

Why they could lose: The Dolphins love playing down to these guys.

Edge: Miami, by a Meadowlandslide

Thursday, November 23, at Detroit Lions

Why the Dolphins will win: Because the Lions are their scheduled opponent.

Why they could lose: Sudden, bitter depression brought on by spending Thanksgiving in Detroit.

Edge: Miami, by a drumstick

Sunday, December 3, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Why the Dolphins will win: Jags won't score four touchdowns of 50 or more yards, as they needed to beat Fins in preseason.

Why they could lose: Simple mascot head-to-head dictates that a field full of jaguars will have its way with even the most securely helmeted Dolphins.

Edge: Miami, by a bottlenose

Sunday, December 10, vs. New England Patriots

Why the Dolphins will win: Patriots' traditional spate of injuries forces erstwhile Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau into lineup.

Why they could lose: SEAU SMASH!

Edge: Miami, by the hair of their chinny chin chins

Sunday, December 31, at Indianapolis Colts

Why the Dolphins will win: After Peyton Manning's arrest for trafficking human organs, the Colts complain of "distractions." Babies.

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