Ten Super Bowl Commandments for Dolphins

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In the first decade the Dolphins missed playing in the Super Bowl, you could say they were offered gentle reminders by the winning teams about what they lacked. By the second decade, you might have upgraded that to something more stern like annual management lessons.

But now we're closing in on three decades since the Dolphins last made a Super Bowl. So as Denver and Seattle advanced Sunday, reminders and lessons are too soft of terms for what the Dolphins need to know.

Here, then, are Ten Commandments on what this franchise needs to follow:

1.Thou Shalt Understand Why Peyton Manning Chose Denver.


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Remember two years ago when Peyton debated where to go? He lived on South Beach, worked out at Ransom Everglades and barely considered the Dolphins. Why? Maybe their glaring problems at receiver in 2012 and protecting the quarterback in 2013 were evidence of what Manning saw. Namely, who in the franchise would he have trusted two years ago to make sound decisions? Updated question: Has anything changed?

2. Thou Shalt Not Over-invest in Offensive Linemen.

Invest, yes. The Dolphins' line needs yet another makeover. But be smart. Denver's offensive line, rated the NFL's best by ProFootballFocus this year, consists of two second-, a third and a fourth-round draft picks and an undrafted free agent. Seattle? It has sixth-overall pick in tackle Russell Okung. But it has started eight linemen this year, and the others were a second-, third-, fifth- and two seventh-round picks and two street free agents. Again: Be smart.

3. Thou Shalt Not Say You're "Close."

This is the annual, January buzzword for the Dolphins. But this was as weak as the AFC East and the AFC in general has been in a decade. When cornerback Aqib Talib left early Sunday, New England was without its top four defenders (Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Jerod Mayo) and three offensive starters of impact (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Sebastian Vollmer). They started six rookies who will be better for it next year. Dolphins are close? Like I'm close to being Prince Harry.

4. Thou Shalt Score More Points.

A lot more. Denver led the league with 37.9 points a game this year. Seattle was eighth wiith 26.1 points a game. If you don't remember the Dolphins ever averaging that much, there's a reason. You might not have been around for it. The last time the Dolphins averaged what  Seattle did was in 1986, when they led the league with a 26.9-point average. Yes, it's hard to compare eras because scoring is up in recent years. At least in most places. The Dolphins ranked 26th in points scored this year.

5. Thou Shalt Have Balance to Win 12 Games.

Everyone will overdo the idea that this Super Bowl will decide if defense or offense wins championships. Denver leads the league in scoring. Seattle's defense allowed the fewest points against. But don't fall for that three-card onty. Denver's defense held San Diego to 17 and New England to 16 points in the playoffs. Seattle's offense scored the eighth most in the league. See why these teams won 13 games each this year?

6. Thou Shalt Have a Pass Rush and Secondary to Close Games.

Fortunately, this is something the Dolphins do have. But it's worth repeating the importance of this in today's NFL. Denver closed out its win by sacking Tom Brady on a fourth down in the fourth quarter. Seattle harassed Colin Kaepernick and then had good secondary play to intercept the ball in the end.

7. Thou Shalt Expect Results Immediately From New Leadership.

This is John Elway's fourth year at the Broncos' helm, and third year in the playoffs. Seattle is in its fourth year under Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. They've turned over the roster. It doesn't take long — if you know what you're doing.

8. Thou Shalt Consider A Role For Dan Marino.

You didn't have to see Elway celebrating Sunday to see his value to Denver. He links Denver's yesterday to today. He bonds fans. He recruits free agents (have I mentioned Manning?). He worked his way up through the ranks and now has good football minds backing up his work. Marino can't jump to the front of the class inside the Dolphins. But team owner Steve Ross should meet with him to explore a role for Marino somewhere in the franchise.

9. Thou Shalt Cheer for Penguins on Fifth Avenue This Super Bowl Week.

OK, this has nothing to do with assembling a team. It has to do with hypocritical NFL decrees. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ran shield for the Dolphins by saying Sun Life Stadium needs a canopy for a Super Bowl because of rain. But snow? Cold? The long-range Weather Channel forecast has Super Bowl Week starting in low-30s. Let's hope a winter storm hits by weekend.

10. Thou Shalt Pick the Broncos, 31-24.

Why? Because maybe Manning retires with a Super Bowl win. Maybe Denver is then one less team the Dolphins have to consider next year. And maybe, one of these decades, this Super Bowl itch gets scratched by the Dolphins.

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