The Miami Dolphins lost Thursday night in a big way. In a way that they had beaten their previous two opponents. I guarantee you that somewhere someone in Tennesee and Houston is saying, “serves them right”. Miami obliterated the Texans and Titans over the last two weeks then got a dose of reality against the Patriots. It may just be te wake up call they needed. Afterall, unless you are the Patriots, your not going to blow out opponents every single week.
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The Dolphins are in gut check time now. They need to build off everything that went wrong and get ready for next week. They have to put it behind them and as Dan Campbell said after the game, “let this loss sit in your stomach for awhile”. His hopes are that the players will never want to taste that again. We will see.
Going into the game many said that it was Dan Campbell’s first challenge as a head coach. On Tuesday nights On The FinSide broadcast I said it wasn’t. I expected the Dolphins to lose and predicted they would lose big as well. Albeit I thought they would score more points. I said on that show that Campbell’s biggest challenge was how he prepared the team after Thursday night’s game.
The Dolphins are a young football team and while they have played exceptionally well two weeks prior to Thursday, they are still raw. Motivation will only get you so far in the NFL and in the end the players have to be accountable. Coaching has to be accountable and last night no one was accountable. They simply didn’t match up well enough against the defending Super Bowl champions and the teams problem areas came to the forefront once again.
Campbell got outcoached but did anyone really believe that a first time interim head coach was going to go toe to toe with the best coach in football and out coach him? Of course not. Campbell had challenges this week one of which was the short week where he couldn’t get the practices in he desired. He had to rely on getting a game plan in place and hoping that the team could outperform the Patriots.
The Dolphins have been doing well for two games. The Patriots have been doing this for 10 years. It’s easy to say that the Patriots didn’t need a lot of prep work to beat the Dolphins. They only needed execution and they got exactly what they needed.
Miami will face the Buffalo Bills a week from Sunday and that is going to be a huge test, a far bigger test for Dan Campbell. He will have extra time to prepare and will need to get the team ready to play. The Dolphins under Campbell are playing far more physical and last night may just have been a bump in that road. A reality check that this team needs to perform at a high level each and every week. Campbell needs to drive that point home and I think he can.
The Bills beat the Dolphins badly in Miami way back in week three of the season so in a way this is the Dolphins opportunity to quiet some of their critics. The will then need to ready for the Eagles a week later. If the Dolphins can play good football there is no reason they can’t win these games. The loss to the Patriots may help them build more team unity. The Dolphins need to rally behind this loss not let it get them down.
Again, that is going to fall on Campbell and his coaching staff.
Miami entered Thursday night holding the 7th spot in the playoff chase. They will likely drop to around 10th after Sunday but they are far from out of the post-season picture. The schedule isn’t easy for the Dolphins but no other team the Dolphins face this season will be as well rounded and mistake free as the Patriots last night. Despite the fact the team lost 36-7 Miami was never really out of the game until the 4th quarter.
Turnovers and ineptitude on offense simply sealed their fate. If Campbell can clean those mistakes up the Dolphins could grow to be a much stronger team down the stretch and that season ending game against the Patriots in Miami could play out a lot different. What Campbell does now however will determine that. Last night was expected, what happens now is the challenge that awaits a young head coach.
If Campbell can get this team prepared and can build off this loss, the loss may just be what the team needed to finish the season strong. In a way, realizing that this team isn’t quite ready to hang with the big boys may be the only motivation this team needs. In other words, last night stung but it could, in the end, be exactly what the team needed.