The Miami Dolphins lost a tough game against a very good team that no one expected them to beat. The Panthers rolled into town on a six game winning streak and came 43 seconds away from losing it. Tough losses are hard to overcome. For the Dolphins, losing cost more than a simple notch in the loss column. It took control out of their hands. Now they are faced with hoping that someone else loses down the stretch. In this wild season of the NFL, it’s likely that all teams currently stranded at five wins and six losses will lose one more. Miami can’t be that team.
Focus becomes the key for this team. It’s impossible to believe that they will finish 10-6 and it’s more likely that the team who does get the final playoff spot will finish 9-7. It’s the tie breaking scenarios that will in all probability decide who moves on. Miami needs to view Sunday’s loss as a positive and not a negative. Hard to do but something that must be done in order to have a shot at the post-season.
From a defensive standpoint, the Dolphins played their best game of the year. Albeit for about 2.5 quarters. They held a very versatile QB in check and had their most productive day of the season in terms of pure pass pressure. They also held a team that has been hell bent on running the ball, to 136 total yards. 51 of those on the legs of Newton and those coming primarily in the second half. So why should Miami hold their heads high on that note? Simply because they could have given that up all game. They didn’t. They simply failed to close it out when they needed to and while that is nothing to be proud of they did so against a formidable foe that many expect to make the NFC Playoffs. They only needed to stop one drive.
This week they will face a Jets team who have lost two in a row and will be starting rookie Geno Smith who has struggled badly in the last two games. Miami’s defense must come out and play the same smash mouth physical game they did against the Panthers on Sunday. Not because it’s the Jets but because it’s the only chance they have to get in position for the post-season. They must do it this week and every week after.
Offensively the Dolphins wanted to be aggressive but their inability to run the ball left them clawing for yards late in the game and while the pass protection held against the leagues best defense the offenses play calling left more to the imagination. The Ryan Tannehill to Mike Wallace connection has been abysmal all season and on Sunday the two managed to hook up twice but neither pass was led in front of the WR and on one occasion Tannehill overthrew a wide-open Wallace for what would have been a touchdown.
Tannehill is a young up and coming QB who is showing strides in pocket awareness and improving his accuracy in the mid-range passes but his inability to hit deep passes is hurting the team. Somehow he needs to get that fixed and staying focused on that task is imperative to Miami’s future as a contender. The Dolphins are not likely going to find much of a running game against the Jets so the outcome is going to rest on the arm of Tannehill. His receivers must make the tough catches and Tannehill can’t afford to miss on the open receivers. Focus must come from all involved.
Miami must come out and play the exact same style of game they played against the Panthers. Aggressive on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Sunday was the first physical game Miami has really played all season and it’s the only way they will win their remaining games. Resiliency is something this team lacks so focus takes over. If Miami want’s to win they will put the loss behind them and come out firing against the Jets and then again against the Steelers. If they let the loss get under their skin, they may as well start playing for next year and let the rest of the roster log in playing time.