Well, for the first time in franchise history, the Miami Dolphins have lost 14 games in a season. And there's still one more game left to play, meaning we may have not even reached rock bottom just yet.
On Sunday, the Dolphins did hang tough against the Patriots, outscoring the Pats 7-0 in the second half. That's something, I guess. Let's check out some of the headlines from yesterday's game.
This was really the main storyline of Sunday's game. The Dolphins had several opportunities to keep this game close, but were unable to take advantage of them. First of all, the Dolphins were actually able to force 4 turnovers, which is something the Dolphins haven't done much of all season. And three of those turnovers were actually committed by Tom Brady. Any good team would have been able to take advantage of these Patriot miscues. Unfortunately, the Dolphins aren't a good team. Those four turnovers resulted in exactly 0 points. Great job, huh?
But what's even more frustrating is how the Dolphins have the ball inside New England's 10 yardline on 1st and goal twice and didn't come away with any points at all. The first time was right before the half. Cleo Lemon actualyl looked good on this drive, leading the Dolphins to the 9 yardline with 1:13 remaining. Then, for some strange reason, Cleo Lemon rushed the team up to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock. What the hell were the Dolphins thinking? It's hard to know for sure if this was called by Cam or if this was just Cleo being an idiot. Either way, it was simply a piss poor play and cost the Dolphins a play. And wouldn't you know that the Dolphins would be unable to get the ball into the endzone on the next 3 plays, meaning the lost down on the spike was quite costly. On 4th and goal from the 4, Cleo tried to fit the ball between 2 or 3 defenders and into the hands of Justin Peelle, which (of course) didn't work. Now, I like the call to go for it on 4th rather than settle for the field goal. But I would not have designed a play to go to the 2nd string tight end. What about spreading the defense out by going 4 wide and trying to hit Ted Ginn on an inside slant? Or maybe isolate Marty Booker or Derek Hagan and try a fade? There were so many calls Cam could have chose in that situation.
The Dolphins' second trip inside NE's 10 was even more frustrating. It came following Derrick Pope's lucky interception in which the ball bounced off Randy Moss's chest and into the hands of Pope. Cleo again leads a nice looking drive down to NE's 5 yard line. After 2 plays (a Gado run and a pass to Peelle), the Dolphins sat inside the 1 yard line. On 3rd down, Cleo rolls out and throws a bad looking pass to David Martin that falls incomplete. If Lemon makes that throw a second or two earlier, it's likely a touchdown. Instead, it missed behind Martin. Then on 4th down, Cam decides to call another roll out for Cleo, which he keeps himself and tries to get to the right pylon. But being the giant b*tch he is, Lemon doesn't dive or extend himself in any way. Instead he runs to the right of the pylon and doesn't get the ball across the plane. I have two gripes here, like most of you will. First, why doesn't Cleo "man up" and dive head first (a la John Beck in the KC preseason game) to make sure he gets the touchdown on 4th down? Seriously, the QB is the leader and needs to show the grit and determination of a true leader. But Cleo b*tched out. Secondly, and more importantly, how do the Dolphins not try ONE SINGLE RUNNING PLAY on 3rd or 4th down inside NE's 1 yard line??? Not even a QB sneak? Are you f*cking kidding me? This game could have easily been a 1 touchdown game in the late 3rd or early 4th quarter, but the Dolphins simply didn't play to win (or so it seemed).
Defense Struggles Early, Steps Up Late
Early on, it looked like the Patriots were playing against a high school team. They simply couldn't be stopped. And even when Brady made a risky throw, the Dolphins secondary just couldn't make a play. Seriously, what the f*ck was with Lance Shulters on that missed interception which resulted on Jabar Gaffney's 48 yard touchdown reception? Does he not know how to catch a football? Just think about this: if Schulters makes that pick, and the Dolphins are also able to to score touchdowns on their 2 trips inside New England's 10, we would have had a 21-21 game midway through the 3rd quarter. Yes, I know it's hard to look at a football game that way because of the number of variables like play calling and such, but the thought of what could have been is sure to upset every Dolphin fan's stomach over the next couple of days.
And besides the Schulters f*ck up, there were other completely boneheaded plays in the first half by this defense. I'll never understand why the Dolphins lined up Derrick Pope on Randy Moss on a 3rd and 3 play at Miami's 11. And if you are going to do that, can Pope at least try and get a jam on Moss? I mean, what was Capers thinking here? Of course, Moss beats Pope and Jason Allen is late getting over the top and Moss catches an easy TD pass for New England's first score. Could the Dolphins have made it any easier for the Pats?
Also, I believe "LeftCoast" metioned this in the game comments, but I want to echo this opinion. I was totally wrong about Travis Daniels. He is just not very good, and it mostly has to do with his lack of speed. But what was with that pass interference penalty he committed on Moss when Daniels actually had position on Randy. Why in the world did he reach out his arms and attempt to grab Moss. All he had to do was get his head around and play the ball, which probably wasn't even catchable.
But as bad as the Dolphins' defense was in the first half, allowing 304 yards of offense (9.8 yards per play) and 28 points to the Patriots (and letting NE convert 86% of their 3rd downs), they pulled a complete 180 and played exceptionally well in the 2nd half. They held the Pats to 96 yards of offense (3.2 yards per play), allowed NE to convert just 14% of their 3rd downs, and (most importantly) held the Pats scoreless. It was a very impressive display. And it makes me wonder: did Dom Capers actually make good halftime adjustments for once? Could he have possibly stayed a step ahead of Bill Belichick, if only for one half? Maybe. Or maybe the Dolphins just got quite lucky in the 2nd half. Either way, it was refreshing to see and makes having a terrible offense even more frustrating.
Quick QB Talk
Some of you were probably hoping to see John Beck sometime in that second half. But let's face it: John would have gotten absolutely killed by New England's defense. Lemon was sacked 7 times. And that number would have been much higher if Cleo wasn't as athletic as he is, allowing him to escape a few more sacks. I'm a Beck supporter and all, but throwing him into the fire behind this offensive line the way it's playing right now would have been a huge mistake. But with that said, I do think that John should start next week. We have nothing to gain by letting Cleo continue to start. We basically already know Cleo's ceiling as a QB. We don't know John's. And Cleo's stat line of 18/41 for 171 yards and a touchdown isn't good enough for Cleo to be considered a "must start" like he was this past week. Coming off our first win, it's understandable that Cleo got the start against the Pats. But next week, we might as well let Bill Parcells get his first 1st hand look at Beck.
-Even though the pass rush was able to get pressure on Brady at times, too often Miami's pass rushers pushed too far outside and took themselves out of the play, allowing Brady to be able to step up in the pocket and make a good throw.
-Jason Allen still gets burnt in coverage too often, but at least he can catch. That's more than you can say about the rest of the secondary.
-Lorenzo Booker is a very exciting player. He's so quick and elusive. The Dolphins just got to find a way to get the ball in his hands in the open field more often.
-Ted Ginn looked much quicker in tight spots than in the past. Previously, it seemed he couldn't make moves to avoid defenders. But he looked much more elusive on Sunday.
-Greg Camarillo runs some impressive routes. He's an interesting prospect to watch next training camp, as he's shown some bright flashes this year.
-Chris Liwienski sucks. He really really sucks.
That's all for me. What did you guys take away from Sunday's game?