It was just a matter of time before a member of the 1972 Miami Dolphins chimed in on the possibility of a 2015 NFL team running the table. It’s usually a bitter old man like Mercury Morris trying to hang on to a tidbit of fame that has something to say when a team gets close an undefeated regular season.
But this year we get to start the talk just after the midway point of the season. Most years the bitter old Dolphins of ’72 who went 17-0 including a Super Bowl win, like to root against another NFL team matching their feat of perfection.
Why the change in opinion from old man Shula? His son Mike is the offensive coordinator for Carolina so the Hall of Fame coach couldn’t help but wish the best for his kid.
At 8-0 it’s pretty early to be thinking about a perfect season. Just the thought of a perfect record usually wrecks the mindset of a team, and the likelihood only becomes real at about week 13.
Don Shula is jumping the gun quite a bit with so many weeks of football left to play. The Panthers do have a very favorable schedule left with teams like Dallas and Tennessee on the horizon. They also get to play my fast falling Falcons twice in December, which should result in two gift wrapped wins for Carolina.
Even though the road looks clear the next eight games for the Panthers, we all know how competitive the NFL is and how turnarounds can happen in the blink of an eye.
Atlanta could figure out what went wrong after their fast start and end up being an actual challenge. I can only hope.
Dallas will have Romo back soon so he could spark a resurgence along with Dez Bryant who looked great last week.
And all the hope in Carolina depends on Cam Newton being healthy. If he went down, they would be lucky to win more than one game the next eight weeks, no exaggeration. The manner in which Cam plays the game makes that possibility more likely than most pocket passers as well.
Just in case Carolina does make Don Shula proud by finishing the regular season undefeated, the postseason is where the challenge would really begin. There would be no easy matchups there. No Titans, no Bucs, no Redskins.
And if by some miracle they survived the playoffs and made it to the Super Bowl, that’s when the pressure would be compounded 100 fold. Not only would the team feel the hot spotlight of the most watched sporting event in the world, they would have to deal with constant questions about a perfect season.
No matter how confident or focused the Panthers would be at that point, perfection would get in their heads. They would be unable to block out the added dimension of making history by beating even the Dolphins’ record by two extra wins at 19 – 0.
I’m sure it would make Mr. Shula very proud for his son to be a part of something so special as an undefeated season. That possibility is very remote and week ten is way too soon to start the talk. I would imagine Mike Shula wished that his old man had never even commented.
When the Panthers do eventually lose their first game, there will may be a sense of disappointment from Don Shula because his kid’s team couldn’t match what the elder Shula’s ’72 team accomplished.
There will also be a giddy celebration among those remaining members of that Dolphins team. Even Don Shula won’t be able to hide his pride over another team failing to top what he did as a coach.