Disgraceful. Pathetic. Shameful. Deplorable.
Those are just some of the words that come to mind when thinking about the performance of the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Head coach Tony Sparano used similar words to describe his team's performance:
"It was a mess. It was embarrassing. These fans deserve better than that."
Two weeks ago, we were all talking about how the Dolphins had a chance to make a statement on national television about the kind of team they are. Well they sure did make a statement - just not the kind they wanted to make. Rather than letting the league and the nation know that they were for real, the Dolphins declared that they just aren't a very good team right now.
Mediocre - that's really the best way to describe them at this point in time.
These players and coaches should feel absolutely ashamed at how pitiful they looked on Monday night. Every single member of this organization only needs to look themselves in the mirror when trying to figure out who to blame for this utter debacle that we witnessed last night.
And now this team can slowly fade into obscurity in South Florida while another local sports team prepares to make a serious championship run - one that will likely completely overshadow this football team in this town for the foreseeable future.
Could Miami's special teams play any worse?
Perhaps I should be careful of what I say. Considering how completely inept these special teams units in Miami have looked the past couple of seasons, I probably shouldn't challenge the "football gods" and wonder if the Dolphins' special teams units can actually go anyplace other than up right now. I might not be happy with the answer to that question.
Perhaps nobody told these guys that the bye week didn't start for another 30 minutes. Maybe that was the issue in the second half of Monday night's game.
Regardless, I know we are all calling for the head of special teams coordinator John Bonamego. That's fair - the man should be fired. If employees I managed performed this poorly for essentially all three years I've been managing them, I'd definitely lose my job. So why the hell does this clearly incompetent man get keep his job?
But truth be told, it's not all his fault. You have to blame these players, of course. It's not like it was Bonamego who either missed tackles, took bad angles, or is just too slow to prevent Brandon Tate's kickoff return for a touchdown - the turning point of the game, of course. It's not like it was Bonamego who screwed up the blocking assignments twice, causing a punt and a field goal to be blocked - handing the Patriots 14 easy points.
Unfortunately you can't just fire the players, though. And what have we even seen from Bonamego's units these past three seasons to make us think he isn't the problem? Anything?
But while we are pointing fingers, we have to blame Miami's front office, too. When Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland came to Miami, didn't they supposedly make it a point to improve special teams by bringing in core special teams players? It's clear that they really failed in identifying special teams talent these past few years. And it's time we throw some of this hostility we have for John Bonamego in the front office's direction. It's not like it's easy to make chicken soup out of chicken poop. If Bonamego isn't getting enough to work with, we can't expect him to field effective special teams units, can we?
But like I said, we aren't going to fire the personnel people at this point in time. That leaves just one man a the "fall guy" for right now.
Will the real Dolphins defense please stand up?
All of us were so high on this Miami defense just two weeks ago. But after back-to-back beatings, it's becoming clear that maybe the Bills and Vikings are just that bad offensively. There's no other way to explain how this defense can look so good one minute and then allow 402 yards to the Jets only to be followed up by allowing 112 combined rushing yards to two New England mediocre running backs.
Think about this for a moment. We were all worried about how the Dolpins would defend Tom Brady - and though his numbers weren't typical Brady, he owned this defense when it mattered. But more worrisome is how the Dolphins let Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis average over 4.6 yards per carry.
We can make all the excuses we want about this loss. But the bottom line is that Miami's offense answered back after the blocked punt and ensuing touchdown by marching down the field and scoring a touchdown of their own. But with the score 20-14, the Dolphins let the Pats take the next possession and march 78 yards in 12 plays and get New England's two touchdown lead right back.
Now we are left to wonder if this defense is even any good at all.
Some more quick thoughts from last night's stomach-turning performance:
- I have waffled on Chad Henne a bit since drafting him. I was not exactly enthusiastic when the Dolphins drafted him back in 2008 simply because he was an underachiever in college at Michigan. But when he took the field in 2009 and began making some plays, I was impressed. Now I don't know what to think. He has all the tools - there's no question. He has the physical skill set to be at least a very good quarterback. It's all going to depend on how Henne progresses from the neck up. He's still locking onto receivers at times. He's now going too quick through his progressions. He's forcing throws (or just not seeing defenders). Right now, I really just do not know.
- Perhaps the biggest problem with this offense is the inability to run the football consistently. Wasn't the offensive line supposed to be Tony Sparano's specialty? Haven't the Dolphins invested a ton of money and gone through a laundry list of players along the interior line? So far in 2010, the unit has been a major disappointment.
- As I mentioned during the game in one of our game threads, you can all blame me for Rob Ninkovich's career night. I spent part of Monday afternoon mocking the fact that Ninkovich - a former Dolphins project - was actually a starting linebacker for the New England Patriots. My mocking of him, of course, is the only logical explanation for his one sack, two interception performance yesterday. I apologize.
- I need to mention one positive. Vontae Davis held Randy Moss without a catch all night. It was the first time Moss did not catch a pass in 52 games as a member of the Patriots. Is Vontae a legitimate "shutdown corner" now?
Interesting comments from the players
I close with some post-game comments from the players themselves. Let's start with Chad Henne, who (to his credit) is saying all the right things:
"This week is going to show us to true character of a lot of players, especially myself. Still a lot more football to play."
On his Twitter page, Brian Hartline had this message for us all:
"Sorry Dolfans!!! Hang with us. We will get it fixed... I promise that!!"
But it was Kendall Langford who summed up this game best, simply tweeting the following just over an hour after the game ended:
You can say that again.