Whether you are a Dolphins fan aboard the Suck for Luck wagon, or someone who believes Tony Sparano can still be just as successful a head coach in Miami as Don Shula was (pause for laughter ... And ... we're good), you can all probably agree that today's 20-17 loss to the New York Giants was one of the more soul-stealing defeats the Dolphins have suffered in recent times. Seeing Miami's offense lay down the way it did yesterday during the second half, it's hard to believe we actually thought these guys had a chance to compete in the AFC East, and were just a quarterback away from putting it all together.
Turns out, these guys are nowhere near being a complete team. Surprise!
Schizo game plans--perhaps the biggest issue that has plagued the Dolphins throughout this season--were absolutely a deciding factor against the Giants yesterday, as Miami's aggressive play-calling in the first half gave way to a vanilla, tighty-whitey approach in the second half. Without placing all of the blame on the coaching staff (which most of us will end up doing anyway ... and rightfully so), Miami's decision to go conservative in the second half made zero sense, especially when the Dolphins' offense was 5-of-7 on third down and 2-for-2 in the red zone (both of those figures are very un-Dolphins like) during the first half.
Were the Giants simply caught looking ahead to their difficult November schedule? Probably, but when you're a winless squad that is up 14-3 on the road, you need to stay aggressive and keep your foot on the gas if you want to leave town with a win. It's not rocket science. Of course, the Dolphins came out of the half with their usual "play just well enough to not get blown away" game plan, and allowed Eli Manning (13/19 for 163 yards in the second half) to make just enough plays to secure the victory.
Rinse and repeat, Dolphins fans.
Why this coaching staff needs to go ... now!
What exactly are you playing for when you're 0-6? It's not like pride should be an issue at that point ... but it is with the Dolphins, and the ego of this regime seems to rear its ugly head at the worst of times (see: the fourth quarter). We know Reggie Bush can run between the tackles every so often, but do you have to run him nine times in the second half (especially when the Giants' defense had zero respect for Matt Moore's noodle arm)? We know it was a mistake to throw at a Revis-draped Brandon Marshall two weeks ago, but four receptions for 55 yards against a good, but not great, Giants secondary? Bush is a phenomenal weapon when used correctly, but he shouldn't be seeing more targets than our No.1 wideout. No, thanks.
The silver lining
The good news for any fan who took this loss especially hard is that it really can't get any worse this season. The Dolphins have officially bottomed out in 2011, and no beatings at the hands of Buffalo, New England, New York Jets or even the Kansas City Chiefs will make things in Miami any worse than what Dolphins fans went through in October. Of course, things are just peachy right now if you're crossing your fingers and hoping the Dolphins land Andrew Luck. Better yet, the Rams are no longer winless, and the Colts are bound to win a game one of these days ... right?
And now some random thoughts ...
-The Dolphins pass protection is absolute garbage right now (how many times must we endure seeing the stupid look Marc Colombo has on his face whenever he gets blown away by a pass rusher?), but I disagree with the idea that Jake Long has regressed. Jake's clearly injured right now, and the NFL lockout certainly did him no favors in terms of conditioning and rehabilitation (Long spending his training camp and preseason on the PUP List pretty much confirms this). Honestly, if Jake's going to have a down year, I'd prefer it be this season and not when he's protecting our next franchise quarterback.
-Props to Matt Moore for making plays galore during the first half. However, 13/22 for 138 yards passing isn't going to put fear in any NFL secondary. Rats ...
-Is it bad that I was more upset about Mike Pouncey's neck injury than the Dolphins second-half collapse?
-Awesome game (15 rushes, 103 yards) for Reggie Bush, who hit the holes yesterday with a vengeance, and looked plenty fast whenever he bounced runs to the outside. It was also depressing to see how upset he was at the end of the game. As someone so used to winning, Reggie looks like he hates life right now.
-This loss marks the second time in three weeks that the Dolphins have basically taken a dump in Metlife Stadium. Also, both of those defeats featured strong Dolphins performances in the first half, as well.
-That pass interference call against Brandon Marshall was indicative of the theorem bad teams = bad calls.
-I've spent a lot of time making fun of Dan Dierdorf, but I really appreciated the amount of sympathy he gave us yesterday. He knows we're terrible, and since he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, he knows what it's like to play on a truly godawful team or two.
-I didn't buy a word of Bill Cowher's "I love it here and no plans to return to coaching" speech on CBS' pregame show. If we have the No.1 pick in the 2012 Draft, I cannot fathom Bill Cowher turning down an opportunity to draft Andrew Luck and resurrect a franchise that he's repeatedly stated he has great respect for. Make this happen, Stephen Ross.
-Nice to see Tim Tebow's stock come back down to Earth after he destroyed a napping Dolphins defense last week. Looks like Detroit's defense naps before games, because they pounded the living daylights out of Tebow and the Broncos yesterday.