The Miami Dolphins are painfully adjusted to slow starts, but new coach Joe Philbin is trying to break the habit.
The Dolphins are now practicing faster under the first-year head coach—the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator who took a high-scoring, Aaron Rodgers-led offense to a Super Bowl win—in hopes that a slow start in Week 1 doesn't turn into a season lost before it's half over.
Last season, the Dolphins started their season with seven straight losses. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald dug up more on the Dolphins' early-season woes in recent years:
The Dolphins have been dreadful early on in recent years. Since 2002, they have gone 11-21 in September, including 3-7 in road openers.
Three times in the past decade, they have gone winless through at least the first six games of the year.
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"I don't know if I'd wish the beginning of last year on my worst enemy," said tight end Anthony Fasano, one of roughly three-dozen players who lived though last year's debacle.
"But you've got to learn your lesson from it. Building some confidence and momentum early on is big for us."
One problem with the Dolphins' wish for a fast start in Week 1 is that they play on the road against the Houston Texans, who are favored to win by anywhere from 12 to 14 points. The Texans are considered to be one of the top teams in the AFC; they certainly return a lot from last year's AFC South championship team.
Part of Philbin's rationale for running a fast practice is so that the team can play fast, yes, but also to build mental toughness for any kind of adverse situation his team will face. So even if the Dolphins don't win Sunday, the hope is that it won't snowball into something more significant.
The Dolphins kick off against Houston on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
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