Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is the team's master chef, taking the ingredients purchased by general manager Jeff Ireland, and trying to create a masterpiece. Whatever your feelings of Ireland's performance, there's no denying that there is talent on the Miami roster, but a 5-6 record does not seem to reflect a chef getting the most out of some of his high end ingredients.
The offensive line is obviously the biggest area of question for the Dolphins, and actually may be the area that shows Philbin's best work - if you want to see it. The Miami offensive line is a mess. Highly regarded players are not living up to expectations (Tyson Clabo), high draft picks are leaving the team (Jonathan Martin), Pro Bowl players are getting suspended (Richie Incognito), three year developments are getting injured (Will Yeatman), top caliber talent is getting food poisoning (Mike Pouncey), and last minute trades are still trying to figure out the offense (Bryant McKinnie). Even the one player who has been on the line for every offensive snap this year, guard John Jerry, is now having a penalty problem.
Yet, somehow, as bad as the offensive line has been, it's somehow still holding together, with players like utility reserve Nate Garner, Danny Watkins, who has been cut, and former practice squad player Sam Brenner, somehow actually holding the line together, at least enough to keep Miami in games - even if they can't run the ball to save their lives.
The wide receivers are another case of mixed results. Brian Hartline is working, Mike Wallace isn't, and Brandon Gibson is injured. Rishard Matthews has great moments, and Marlon Moore was added to replace Gibson. if Philbin, and by extension offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, can find a way to get Wallace and quarterback Ryan Tannehill clicking, and for part of the game against the Carolina Panthers this past week they did, then maybe the Dolphins will put things together, and this bland year could start to add some spice and stay in the playoff race.
The defense is just as confusing. Miami is ninth in the league in sacks, continually getting after quarterbacks. Yet, they are 14th against the pass this year and 26th against the run. This team has more talent on defense than most teams, yet the finished product is muddled and not equaling the sum of the ingredients. They are making great plays, interceptions, sacks, pass breakups, but they aren't stopping people.
Then, there are strange things like cornerback Nolan Carroll, who is playing well in place of Dimitri Patterson most of the time, but then gives up a big play. Or the use/non-use of third overall pick Dion Jordan.
Philbin has been working on the final product of the Dolphins' season for 12 weeks now, with just five remaining. Whether it will be feast or famine in South Florida will be determined over the last month of the season. How will the Dolphins do? Will Philbin's ingredients continue to be hit-or-miss, or will they finally come together into a playoff appearance?