The Dolphins must've really liked Robert Griffin's Heisman acceptance speech on Saturday night, because against the Eagles yesterday, Miami looked like a team positioning itself for a top 10 draft pick, not the hungry upstarts that dominated their competition through most of November and early December. Add in game-ending injuries to Jake Long and Matt Moore, and you have the formula for a 26-10 Dolphins loss. Just when you thought this team was starting to figure it out ...
Injuries pave way for Philadelphia momentum
Perhaps the worst thing about this defeat was the fact that the Dolphins looked strong on both sides of the ball early in the game. Miami's pass rush was absolutely pumping throughout the first quarter; the offensive line bullied Eagles defenders in the trenches; and Matt Moore took advantage of great field position following a blocked Philadelphia punt, hooking up with Brandon Marshall on a very impressive throw to the corner of the end zone. Near the end of the first quarter, though, the Eagles' offense got on a roll, and their defense, aided by Long's absence, made Miami's offensive line look like one big turnstile. As a result, Moore looked like Patrick Swayze's punching bag in Roadhouse by the time he left the game with a head injury late in the third quarter. And if there's a white flag of surrender for the Dolphins, it's the sight of J.P. Losman (who looks like Kyle Orton's younger brother at this point) buckling his chin strap and trotting onto the field.
If that sight wasn't enough to make you gouge your eyes out, this will get the job done: Philadelphia finished the afternoon with nine--count 'em--nine sacks, with the Dolphins surrendering three sacks each to Eagles defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin (who has to be in the running for the NFL Player With Worst Tattoos award. What a gruesome compilation of ink on that guy).
The defense is once again wearing clown shoes
It wasn't any prettier for Miami on defense, either, as Michael Vick and the Eagles clearly got the memo that the Dolphins still occasionally struggle to defend tight ends and screen passes. Brent Celek was a factor, gathering four catches for 39 yards, and LeSean McCoy burned Miami with an average of 11 yards per reception. Vick finished the day with sub-par numbers (15/30 for 208 yards, a touchdown and a pick), but his waaaaaay-too-easy 34-yard touchdown throw to DeSean Jackson in the second quarter basically broke Miami's back for good. Fittingly, the Dolphins' defense spent the rest of the game getting back in touch with the pedestrian unit it was throughout the first half of the season.
Sean Smith did collect an interception, however, so that's nice ...
Reggie Bush refuses to go quietly
Regardless of how the Dolphins' 2011 season ends (and I have a pretty good idea of how it will end if Losman is the quarterback the rest of this year), it's easy to be impressed with how Reggie Bush badly wants to win every week. Down 24-7 at halftime, Bush entered the third quarter looking to crack skulls, racking up 68 rushing yards during that period alone, en route to 103 yards on 14 carries. Reggie's making this 100-yard-rusher thing look pretty simple right now.
On to quick hits
-Three-for-15 on third down!? Are you kidding me, Dolphins?
-This loss should about do it for Tony Sparano's stint as Dolphins head coach, which is funny because Mosul and I, after the touchdown throw to Marshall, were talking about what it would take for Sparano to have a chance at returning next season. Yeah ... about that ...
-It took me about five seconds after Jake Long left in the first quarter to realize just how important that guy is to the Dolphins' offensive line. Richie Incognito looked like a lost child during most of the game (an angry lost child, mind you).
-Matt Moore was never the answer at quarterback for the Dolphins, but they sure looked awful after he exited the game yesterday. And is it seriously too much to ask for Washington to win a few games and be out of our way come the draft next April?