By Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
Miami, FL – In a season that began with such optimism after making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last year, this has been quite the disappointing encore. On Sunday the Dolphins beat the Denver Broncos 35-9. Denver has only three total wins this season and with four games to go, the Fins have slim chances to make the playoffs. Miami snapped a five game losing streak to bring their record to 5-7.
“Anytime you win in this league it’s never easy,” said Head Coach Adam Gase. “A lot of work goes into it. Been grinding through five losses and found a way to win today.
This team has been through it all from controversy with their offensive line coach caught on video snorting a substance in a team meeting room to losing their bye week and starting their season a week behind due to Hurricane Irma. These factors amongst other issues are recipes for disaster for a franchise trying to maintain consistency.
There also has been reported locker room issues. The Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles mid-season for a fourth round pick. Ajayi had over a thousand yards rushing in his second season last year. Ajayi reportedly had issues with Gase’s coaching philosophies thus prompting the trade to Philly. Linebacker issues continue from last season when their second round pick Raekwon McMillan suffered a torn ACL in his first preseason game. Newly acquired linebacker Lawrence Timmons went AWOL and left the team before their first game of the season. He was suspended for one game and returned for the team’s third game. In attempt to increase linebacker depth the Dolphins acquired veteran Rey Maualuga. The stand out defender from USC was arrested for a battery charge and was waived from the team.
Average at best quarterback Jay Cutler has served as a very expensive band aid after starter Ryan Tannehill re-aggravated his knee injury before week one ending his season. Cutler signed a one year contract that is worth 10 million dollars. The 34-year old Cutler was hired by Fox to be an analyst this season before his former coach Adam Gase recruited Culter to be the starting quarterback. His season: average at best. Today Cutler went 18/31 for 235 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs and was sacked twice. Stats like these are much of what he has produced all season which puts pressure on your defense, running game and special teams to perform.
Insert today’s game. The defense scored two safeties, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown by Xavien Howard), blocked a punt and forced seven three and outs. Quite fitting on a day when one the great defenders to put on a Dolphins uniform, Jason Taylor received recognition at halftime for being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I think we should create [a pass rush] no matter what,” said defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. “We have the talent up front, especially in the front seven. If we get pressure we can create plays, we create a pick six and create turnovers.”
I get it, this was against a Bronco team that has been more anemic on offense than the dolphins this season in recent weeks, but something should be said for capitalizing on great defensive play by scoring 24 offensive points against a top five defense.
Not making excuses but the Dolphins have been drowning before the season started. To be “in the hunt” at this point in the season is actually impressive. Realistically speaking, Miami has very slim chances of winning a playoff game if they somehow make the postseason. The goal for this season was to take a step forward and advance in the playoffs. If they make the playoffs and win a playoff game, this will be nothing short of a miracle.
It’s honestly time to start thinking about next season for the Miami Dolphins despite today’s dominating win over the Denver Broncos. Tannehill seemed to finally turn the corner last year before suffering a knee injury late season and should be back next season. If they can keep their receiving core and add some pieces to the offensive line this offense has potential to be very good. Today we saw just how dominating the Dolphin D can be. Miami has two pro bowl caliber safetys in TJ McDonald and Rashad Jones, a solid D-Line but the linebackers as a unit are still a work in progress. I do not in any way condone tanking, but losing a few games might not be such a bad thing. A few young pieces from the draft just might be what the Dolphins need to take that next step. Winning the next few games would simply be moral victories.
The Dolphins play one of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL on Monday night at home next week against the defending champion New England Patriots. History tell us Miami has a chance. Dolphins have won three of the last four meetings against the Patriots played in Miami.