The Miami Dolphins have plenty of blame to go around after another disappointing end to their season.
Miami Dolphins fans are not happy, we shouldn't be. It isn't the fact Miami lost to the Ravens, the Bills, and the Chiefs, it's the way the lost to the Ravens, Bills, and Chiefs. The effort was lacking, the coaching decisions were questionable, and the injuries were absurd.
This year, the injuries were bad all season long and it started way back on day one of training camp when Jalen Ramsey went down for half of the year. It isn't the first time Miami has had to endure a lot of injuries.
Sports will tell you it is always the next man up. A mentality to make it all make sense. Yes, injuries happen but for the Dolphins, it seems these injuries are far more frequent.
At some point, you have to wonder if the Dolphins go through a lot of injuries over the course of two or three coaching changes, at what point do you look at the training staff and ask if they may be part of the problem?
I'm not talking about the equipment guys, I'm talking about the conditioning and strength coaches that have stuck around for a while now. It seems the Dolphins collapse in December after fast starts and by the time the seasons final month rolls around, the team is dealing with soft tissue injuries and more and more names heading to IR.
This year, the Dolphins could have fielded an All-Star team with their IR designations. Jerome Baker, Terron Armstead, Jalen Ramsey, Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Connor Williams, Isiah Wynn, Salvon Ahmed, Andrew Van Ginkel, and that says nothing to the players that missed several weeks and avoided IR. Xavien Howard, Robert Hunt, and Jevon Holland.
I'm not going to pretend I know the injury situations of every NFL team because I don't. There are big-name injuries all the time. The Vikings were without Justin Jefferson nearly the entire season because of a soft tissue injury. It just seems, on the surface that the Dolphins have dealt with far more.
If it isn't the conditioning program, is it just bad luck? I find that a little hard to believe given the Dolphins' run of big injuries the last few years. Last year it was Clayton Fejedelem, Liam Eichenberg, Cethan Carter, Nik Needham, Byron Jones, Adam Shaheen, Austin Jackson, Myles Gaskin, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Brandon Jones landing on IR, and Terron Armstead was questionable the entire year.
In 2021, 18 players were at some point on IR. 2020 had 10 players on IR.
NFL teams can survive and thrive when a top player goes down. Lose your starting CB and your backup should be able to handle the job. Lose a guard, plug-and-play. But what happens when you lose your LT, LG, C, and RG? What happens when you lose both starting DE's and their backups?
You pull players off the street to just field a team for the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins did exactly that.
If we are to believe that these are freak accidents then I have a hard time with that. Could the summer weather play a part in the conditioning? Miami has tried to practice in a dome but the results were similar. Going back to 2016 when the bubble was available, Miami still had 11 players land on IR that season.
Not all of the players are starters, obviously, but this year was especially bad for the Dolphins and again, I have a hard time wrapping my head around "bad luck" as the reason.
I'm not placing blame on the staff but I am saying that maybe we should ask that question. Dave Puloka has been with the Dolphins since 2008 and has been the head strength and conditioning coach since 2016. Assistant S&C coach Adam Lachance has been here since 2015.
The Dolphins head athletic trainer is Kyle Johnston, he has been with the Dolphins since 2018. Associate Head Athletic Trainer, Troy Maurer has been with the Dolphins since 1992.
I would love to think that the trainers are not part of the problem but they are in a position to try and figure out why these injuries are happening. Maybe they can find a way to eliminate some of them.