Wow. Just like that the Miami Dolphins season has come to an end. With just two weeks remaining in the season, all the Dolphins had to do was defeat either the Buffalo Bills or the New York Jets. A Buffalo team that was playing with a backup quarterback who had just one career victory and a New York Jets team who has a quarterback with 25 turnovers on the season.
Coming off a win against the New England Patriots, many believed that the Dolphins were going to find themselves in the postseason. Ryan Tannehill was coming off of back to back three touchdown games while the team has been victorious in three straight games. Miami was playing inspired football as they continued to pile up their confidence. Unfortunately, over the past two weeks everything took a sudden turn for the worse.
Heading into Buffalo as the favorites, Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins offense dropped an egg. Miami was dominated in the trenches as their make shift offensive line finally fell apart, allowing the Bills defense to get to Tannehill for seven sacks. The pressure obviously had an effect on Tannehill as he completed a mere 37% of his passes. Along with Tannehill’s poor performance, the running game was only able to amount for a total of 14 yards on 12 carries.
Thankfully, the Dolphins appeared to have shrugged off their loss from last week. Despite losing their leading receiver Brian Hartline in the first quarter, the Dolphins passing game was able to get going early on in the second quarter, as Tannehill was able to find Mike Wallace on a beautiful 5 yard pass for a touchdown. Sadly, the Dolphins were not able to stop Geno Smith and the Jets as they were able to respond with the next two touchdowns to close out the first half.
As the game resumed in the third quarter, things continued to go downhill for Miami. They were unable to make the halftime adjustments that we’re necessary if they wanted to win the game. The defense was unable to stop Jets. Throughout the third and fourth quarter, the Jets had two drives that totaled 11 minutes. The knockout punch seemed to have come when the Jets dialed up some trickery with a direct snap to Bilal Powell. Powell then threw a beautiful pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland for 30 yards. Somehow, Miami was able to buckle down defensively forcing Nick Folk to come out for the 35 yard field goal.
With 4:18 seconds left, Miami found themselves with the ball back, down by only 10 points and the chance to pull off a miraculous comeback. However, on the very first play of the drive Ryan Tannehill was intercepted by Ed Reed. The game, along with Miami’s season had slipped right out of their hands. The Jets ended up kicking another field goal, pushing their lead to 20-7.
So, now what? What does this mean for the coaching staff? Jeff Ireland? Ryan Tannehill? What will happen to this Miami team who played their way out of the postseason? Well, I think it is very clear now that Jeff Ireland will be relieved of his duties. He lacks the ability to evaluate talent. He also has traded or allowed either Reggie Bush, Brandon Marshall, Jake Long, Sean Smith or Vontae Davis to walk over the past couple of years. Yes, he has had some nice finds, however, they do not make up for the lack of smart decisions that Ireland has made during his tenure as the Dolphins General Manager.
The same should go for Head Coach Joe Philbin. Week in and week out he has been outcoached and as a result has his team losing to what has been known as “inferior” talent. You could use the argument of “who will be his replacement?” as a good refute, however, that might not work as well as you think. There are tons of potential candidates that the Dolphins can look at. Need some examples? Darrell Bevell, the Seahawks offensive coordinator. He helped transform Russell Wilson into a star and would do wonders for Tannehill’s progression. Another possible candidate is Jay Gruden. He has done a tremendous job over the past few seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator and will surely be a hot candidate.
As for Tannehill, I think he will and should be granted at least one more year as the Dolphins quarterback. It is too early to give up on him. Despite the back to back poor performances to end the season, he has shown some flashes of greatness. The main thing that he needs to work on this offseason is his on field relationship with Mike Wallace. Those two clearly had some sort of a disconnect throughout the season and that is something that definitely needs to be fixed. Miami also needs to do a better job at keeping Tannehill upright.
The bottom line is things must change. The Dolphins completely embarrassed themselves to close out the season. This team started off 3-0 and had a 3 game winning streak headed into the final two weeks of the season. Not only did they end up finishing in third place in the division, they also had a pitiful record of 2-6 in the AFC East. There should be absolutely no excuse for what has transpired over the past two weeks. Changes must and will be made this offseason. The Dolphins have now left many fans with the same question; what now, Miami?
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