I'm scared to start writing this recap, because, with the rate at which Miami Dolphins players were dropping on Sunday, I may not make it through the entire thing without being injured. That was ridiculous in a game filled with ridiculousness, a game where the Dolphins crumbled nearly as fast as their own players were hitting the ground. At the end of the day, the New York Jets ran over, around, and through the Dolphins on their way to a 38-20 win.
Officially, the Dolphins had injuries to wide receiver Rishard Matthews (chest and ribs), center Mike Pouncey (foot), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf), and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley (calf). Also missing time or seeking treatment on the sideline were linebacker Jelani Jenkins, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, cornerback Brice McCain, and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. That's in addition to right tackle Ja'Wuan James and defensive end/linebacker Chris McCain who were both inactive due to injury. Miami was decimated by injury during the day.
That is not to excuse the performance of the team, but it is part of the equation as to why Miami could not get anything done against the Jets. Miami was 3-0 against the Jets in MetLife Stadium since drafting Ryan Tannehill heading into this week. They are now 3-1 after another lackluster performance, and they are 0-5 in the AFC East this year. In fact, the Dolphins have only won games against AFC South (Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans) and NFC East (Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles) opponents this year. Given the state of those divisions, those wins should not be overly impressive.
Things went poorly for Miami from the start. The team came into the game knowing they had to stop Chris Ivory, who ran for 166 yards on them in Week 4. The first play of the game, Ivory busted out a 16-yard gain, and both Jenkins and McCain were hurt. The Miami defense would actually hold Ivory fairly well until late in the game, when the Jets just ran the ball down Miami's throat to kill the clock - and Ivory broke out for a 31-yard touchdown.
The Dolphins' first possession featured a three-and-out, including a third-down play in which Matthews was lost for the game after being crushed as he tried to catch the pass and Landry came up limping after a pick-play in which he was called for pass interference. That pretty much summed up the day for Miami.
Two drives, four injuries. Yeah, that was pretty much Miami's day.
Tannehill struggled during the day, though his 33-for-58, 351 yards, 3 touchdown, 1 interception stat line will not tell the story. His interception came on a poorly thrown ball, with Kenny Stills breaking on an out route and Tannehill just not putting the ball toward the sideline, allowing Marcus Williams to under-cut the route and get the interception. Tannehill was able to put together some good throws, including a beautiful 40-yard pass to Jarvis Landry, but he was inaccurate most of the day, and he, again, took sacks he should have felt and from which he should have moved.
The snap was not helping Tannehill in any way, though. Pouncey's injury caused Miami to use Jamil Douglas at center, a position he did not play in college, and, until today, no one really knew he would play if Pouncey was injured. Snap after snap of his was low, bouncing or coming in at Tannehill's shins. It does not excuse some of Tannehill's issues on the day, but it is another piece in the puzzle that was how Miami put together another disappointing game.
The Dolphins have to add another center this week, especially if the injury to Pouncey is going to be of any length. Samson Satele is still a free agent and could, theoretically, come in and solidify the position if needed.
To explain what the Dolphins' offensive line became during this game, the lineup consisted of Jason Fox - Billy Turner - Jamil Douglas - Dallas Thomas - Branden Albert. That's a reserve right tackle who has struggled the last four games, three guards who have disappointed all season and cannot hold on to a starting job, and Albert.
Add in the, once again, non-existent running game and the lack of a fully-healthy Landry and the loss of Matthews, and the offense never stood a chance to get into rhythm. Even slowed, Landry still put up big numbers (13 receptions, 165 yards, 1 TD) and appeared to be playing a different game than everyone else on the field. Behind Landry, the Dolphins had to thrust rookie DeVante Parker, who has frustratingly not been a part of the offense up until now, into the game, where he caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. His four catches doubled his season total, and he looked like he had a break out game; but it was not all great for Parker, who dropped a couple of passes, and only caught four passes on 10 targets. Again, Tannehill was inaccurate at times, but Parker also missed some catches he should have made.
The Dolphins ground game gained a total of 12 yards on nine carries. Lamar Miller had five attempts, picking up a total of two yards. Rookie Jay Ajayi carried three times for six yards, and Landry added one carry for four yards. The Dolphins are now 0-7 in games this season in which Miller has 12 or fewer carries. Last week, there was an uproar that the Dolphins only had 14 rushing attempts; this week, they outdid themselves by dropping it to nine.
Falling behind every single week does make Miami need to throw the ball more, but completely abandoning the running game makes the offense completely one-dimensional and makes the defense able to simply concentrate on getting after the quarterback. The team ran the ball twice in the second half, both coming on the team's first touchdown drive.
As everyone said before the game, and before the game last week, and before just about every game this season, the Dolphins have to run the ball, and stay committed to the run, if they want to win.
The defense was not much better than the offense. They only got to Ryan Fitzpatrick once, with Olivier Vernon recording the sack. They were able to stuff the run early in the game, until injuries and playing-time wore down the defense and allowed Bilal Powell and Ivory to take it to the defense.
Brandon Marshall once again torched his one-time team, gaining 131 yards with two touchdowns on nine receptions. He abused Brent Grimes all game, using his size to simply box-out Miami's Pro Bowl cornerback.
Grimes did return punts for the first time in his career, returning three kicks for 44 yards, giving him nearly 15 yards per return as an average, as he filled in for Landry most of the day.
Perhaps the player who had the best day for the Dolphins, other than Landry, was punter Matt Darr, who kicked eight times, with two pinning the Jets inside the 20 yard line, with a 45.0 yard per kick average and a long of 55 yards. He also kicked an onside kick, which Landry recovered.
The Dolphins could not run the ball, they could not get consistency in the passing game, they could not stop the Jets' passing game, and ultimately wore down against the Jets' running game. They could not stay healthy. They, basically, could not do a lot on Sunday, and the Jets made them pay for it. The loss just about kills any Playoff chances for Miami, and puts them one loss away from another non-winning season.