You know you read the title and immediately thought…”Because they suck”. I couldn’t write the title without at least a little bit of snicker despite the fact that I completely disagree with it. There is really only one reason the Miami Dolphins are 4-5 on the season and not 8-1 sitting atop the AFC East division. Unlike the local media who lately have been under my skin for continually poor judgement and bad journalism, I will attempt to show you why the Dolphins are simply one thing away from where they should be instead of where they are.
You may not agree with me on this and that is fine but unlike the media guys I mentioned before I’m at least willing to stand up and tell you exactly why I feel the way I do and why I discount all the other notions that are on the table. Because frankly, I have never been willing to hide behind an excuse and I’m not trying to drum up controversy to sell myself to you or an article to web hits. In order for me to better explain my reason for the sub .500 record I need to first discount all the other reasons first. The ones many fans believe are the reason or reasons for this sinfully bad season.
Yes I am aware that the Dolphins are only one game out of the sixth playoff spot but I assure you that the reasons I am giving you for not being above .500 can change over night and will not get this team into the post season.
Referees are not responsible. The penalties called on the Miami Dolphins have been atrocious this season. Some so blatantly bad that they have changed a games momentum and extended drives that would lead to go ahead scores. Yet for all the bad calls that have been made, they have not lost the Dolphins a single game.
The schedule for the Dolphins was supposed to be the toughest of any other NFL team yet the Dolphins opened on the road for two consecutive games and won both of them before returning home to knock off the Falcons. While the opening schedule was somewhat disturbing at first, the Dolphins lost four of their last five with two of those games at home.
The Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito story has been a distraction but that distraction only surfaced in the last two weeks. While it’s possible that Martin’s poor play could have been as a result of his inner fears and the locker room “bullying” the fact is that these men are professional football players and beat the Bengals coming off the news of Martin’s revelations. The fact that the Dolphins have only been embroiled in this for two weeks is nothing more than an excuse and not close to being the reason the Dolphins are below .500.
The offensive line has been so poor this year that turnstiles across the globe are filing their own lawsuits against the team for slander. Tannehill has been sacked an ungodly 37 times and two of those just so happened to come on the final attempt to tie the game on Monday night against a then winless Buc’s team. Despite the poor play of the offensive line the Dolphins offense at times has been able to move the ball. While it will be easy to point to the Oline the Dline does not get a pass.
The Miami Dolphins pass rush is pathetic and has been most of the season. It was supposed to be a strength as well as the teams rushing defense. Unfortunately neither have been good and if it were not for the play of the secondary who has been hung out to dry most of the year the team would likely be looking at a worse record than they have.
Jeff Ireland is every fans whipping boy. He spent a lot of money this past off-season to breath life into both sides of the ball and so far nothing has changed. In fact, the team is playing worse this year with far better talent than they did all of last year. Many fans will applaud if and when Jeff Ireland is fired and frankly that is nothing more than blind thinking. Ireland may not be viewed as successful because of the win/loss records since he has been here and his failure to secure starters with his 2nd round selections hasn’t helped. The bigger issue for many is his ego. He is not a players GM.
He runs the team his way when it comes to personnel and he puts a price of value on each players head and does not waiver from it. Some view that as a weakness while other a strength. The larger issue with Ireland is the perception that comes with flying to California with Stephen Ross to woo Jim Harbaugh, the way he was portrayed for his relationship with Tony Sparano, his asking Dez Bryant about his mother’s previous occupation, and in general because he was selected by Bill Parcells. Regardless of what you may think or want to believe or what the local media will tell you, this team is not sub-.500 again because of Jeff Ireland.
New additions haven’t panned out but I can’t believe for one single second that Phillip Wheeler who led the Raiders in tackles last year forgot how to tackle anymore than Dannelle Ellerbe forgot how to cover. Where was this Mike Wallace last year? Or how about Tyson Clabo who almost everyone lauded as a steal in free agency? The point is there is a lot of talent on this team that for whatever reason is not being shown on the field. I can’t blame Ireland for bringing in players that should have made this team much better. He obviously overpaid for most of them…with the way they are performing right now.
No when all is said and done there is only one reason why the Miami Dolphins are not sitting at 8-1. Consistency. The team lacks it and frankly they have no idea how to play with any of it. They lack consistency with their blocks, tackles, routes, play calling, and just about everything else in between. Consistency is why Miami sits below the even mark looking upwards at the rest of the playoff teams.
And that sits squarely on the shoulders of Joe Philbin.
The Miami Dolphins coaching staff does not seem to have an answer. They are the ones who coach this team and they are the ones who are supposed to make sure this team plays from the opening kick-off to the end of the game the same way each week. That is consistency. In every game this season win or lose the Dolphins have not played consistently for four quarters. In fact they have done enough to keep games close. Losing at half-time and pulling out a 2nd half win. Giving up sacks at the wrong time and honestly just not playing at any level that approaches consistency.
The Dolphins can’t exploit a defense because their coaching philosophy makes no sense. A defense can’t stop the Dolphins running game for two quarters straight so the Dolphins switch to a passing attack that doesn’t work. They fall behind and then try and run the ball again. Ryan Tannehill can’t get into a rhythm because one series he has plenty of time and the next he has one to two seconds. When he does catch fire as he did on Monday night against Tampa the coaches change from the no-huddle attack to a running game that netted a whopping two yards.
The defense is just a bad when it comes to any degree of consistency but that too can traced back to inconsistent coaching decisions. One series the Dolphins are on fire defensively and the next they are allowing themselves to be gutted by third and fourth string running backs. The Dolphins coaches or at least the ones making the player substitutions can’t seem to get anyone going on the line. Perhaps maybe the Dolphins have too much talent up front because the rotation of players simply doesn’t make sense and frankly they can not develop any momentum whatsoever.
Another inconsistency with this team is their complete lack of knowledge. In one game when it’s on the line the Dolphins have their top players in the lineup defensively ready to make a play but at others they have them on the bench. The Tampa game is a good example. The Dolphins have Dion Jordan on the sideline in a passing situation with Jason Trusnik in his spot. Only to put Jordan in on the next play for a high percentage run. The final scoring drive of the Bucs? For the third time this year Cameron Wake was on the sideline watching. Why? Because the coaching staff once again are too inconsistent with their rotations.
The Miami Dolphins while sitting at 4-5 could just as easily be Tampa Bay sitting at 1-8 or worse. Consider they didn’t go out and manhandle Cleveland any more than they did Indianapolis a week later and in all three of their opening season wins the team came back in the fourth quarter. Their fourth win was a two-point safety in overtime. So while it is true that they easily could have and should have beaten Baltimore, Buffalo, New England, and Tampa Bay they simply are too inconsistent with that as well.
This team lacks focus, direction, and more importantly urgency. What they don’t lack is talent. Coachable talent that can win games and knock other teams out. At the end of the year Stephen Ross may very well fire Jeff Ireland and opt to keep Joe Philbin. After all Philbin is his choice as an HC. His first as an owner. Jeff Ireland was already here. Unfortunately if you fire Ireland you have to do the same to Philbin otherwise…it’s simply more inconsistency.