Yesterday we brought you a list of the five worst moments of this dreadful Miami Dolphins season. And though the team went 7-9, finished third in the division, and missed the playoffs for the second straight year, the season wasn't an entire bust. There was a lot more learning than winning -- but that doesn't mean there weren't a few bright spots.
First off, think of how much we now know about the Dolphins quarterback (we don't have one), the running backs (we may not have any of those left either), and the coach (the clock is ticking).
This season also had a diva wide receiver who didn't cause too much trouble off the field; some good, young defensive backs; and no life-threatening injuries.
Here are some other bright spots:
5. Jake Long
If you've read or seen The Blind Side, you know how important the left tackle is to the game of football. That's Jake Long. Long has proven to be the best Dolphins draft pick in this century. He was injured for part of the season, and the running game wasn't where it was last year, but he still had a Pro Bowl-worthy year. Long generally locks down the left side of the offensive line the way great tackles are supposed to. If the team could get a real quarterback behind him, they'd have a puncher's chance against anyone.
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4. Beating the Jets
If the Dolphins lost 14 games but beat the Jets twice, a lot of Dolphins fans would be satisfied. And these Jets, with Rex "Footie" Ryan and Jason "Twinkle Toes" Taylor and Braylon "Midnight Ride" Edwards, are just about as intolerable as a rival can get. Which made it even sweeter when, in week 14, the Dolphins traveled to New York, watched a Broadway play, and beat the Jets in their own new stadium. The star of the game turned out to be Sal Alosi, the Jets coach caught on tape tripping a Dolphins player and later suspended indefinitely. As far as team accomplishments go, it didn't get better than this.
3. Davone Bess
If you took Davone Bess in your fantasy football draft, you are a true professional. All the news coming in to this year was about Brandon Marshall, but with the spotlight on the other side of the field, Bess proved to be one of the best number-two receivers in the league. Amid all the drama and quarterback woes, Davone Bess quietly became the best third-down target in the the NFL. Bess and Marshall would be the best receiving duo in the league if, you guessed it, someone could get them the ball.
2. Losing Two QBs in the Same Half
November 14 was a very interesting day for Dolphins fans. Randy Moss and the Tennessee Titans were in town just a week after the Dolphins didn't claim Moss off waivers. Chad Pennington got his first start of the year... and lasted two plays. Chad Henne went in but was out of the game with an injury before halftime. And honestly, with the top two quarterbacks off the field, fans got to see just how many weapons the Dolphins have. Miami won the game 29-17.
1. Cameron Wake
There was one true star on the Dolphins this year, and his name is Cameron Wake. Wake, who actually started his pro career in the Canadian league, is a beast. For most of the season he lead the league in sacks, and for that he was named a Pro Bowl starter. But he's more than just a sack machine; Wake turns the field. He's a force from one side of the line that shuts down passing lanes and generally sends runs to the other side of the field. This year, he was the anchor of a defense that was one of the best in the NFL. If there is any hope for the immediate future of this franchise, it's riding on the shoulders of one Cameron Wake.