Dave George: Dolphins need to do a better job protecting their home turf

Two road wins to open a season ought to be mean something. It ought to identify a playoff team, or at the very least shift a sagging franchise into passing gear.

So what will the Dolphins do with this springboard of a start? Sunday’s home opener against Atlanta will tell part of the story, but really this is more of a season-long challenge to make Sun Life Stadium a destination that opponents dread visiting.

That’s the most obvious component of any special season, defending the home turf, but the Dolphins haven’t been so good at it lately. Only three times in the Past seven seasons has Miami earned a winning record at Sun Life Stadium, posting modest 5-3 marks in 2005, 2008 and 2012.

It’s a vicious cycle, as we all know.

Make fans regret spending the time and money to attend a game and crowds begin to dwindle. Next thing you know, Stephen Ross is buying gobs of tickets to avoid television blackouts of home games, with the resulting sea of empty orange seats for all to see. That’s pouring bad on top of worse for a franchise’s overall health, and it needs to stop.

This should be the season that it does, now that Miami is playing well enough to fire up the locals, and well enough to worry that team up in New England a little, too.

Tyson Clabo, the starting right tackle, gets the picture. He came here in the offseason as a free agent from Atlanta, where the Falcons made full use of home-field advantage with a 7-1 record at the Georgia Dome and a gaudy 12-4 finish. Why, Clabo asks, shouldn’t it be the same in Miami?

“The thing that teams are going to have on their minds when they come down here, no matter how loud it is and how awesome our fans are, is the heat,” Clabo said. “The heat is going to be public enemy No. 1.

“Now I don’t know what it’s going to be like Sunday, but if the fans are worked up and loud and that sun is beating down and it’s 1,000 percent humidity, it’s going to be a difficult place to play football.”

He makes a good point, and it’s one that the Dolphins and their fans can drive home together. Listen, though, to defensive tackle Jared Odrick, who has been around a little longer. He’s pleading for help this Sunday and every home Sunday, recognizing how slim the margin between the postseason and another postmortem.

“We want all of you to come out and support us,” Odrick said Tuesday, speaking into the lens of a Miami station’s camera. “We need it. We love it. It gets us excited, so please come out and support the Miami Dolphins, with this being the first home game and coming against a good opponent.”

Sales jobs like this aren’t needed in Seattle or Green Bay or New England, but in fairness, those franchises are famous for their game-day experiences. Customers come. They cheer. They go home happy.

Compare that to the 2010 Dolphins, who teased fans by going 6-2 on the road but stunk it all up by losing seven-of-eight at Sun Life.

That, incredibly, was another year when Miami opened the season with a pair of road games and won them both, just like the surging 2-0 Dolphins of today.

Ask around. Was there ever anything more exciting in the Dan Marino years than that 1985 upset of the unbeaten Chicago Bears on a wild Monday night at the Orange Bowl? The Dolphins went 8-0 at home that year, which didn’t get them a Super Bowl title but provided a bond with fans that had them racing back to the tailgate lots for a generation.

Miami needs to establish that kind of beachhead at home again. Add, say, a 6-2 Sun Life record to what the Dolphins have already started on the road and it’s back to the playoffs.

Now that would be a party, and one built right here in our own backyard.