Three games in during a 16 game season is too early to press the panic button, but the button has been unlocked, the case over it has been opened, and there is a hand resting on it right now, just waiting for the word to push. To say things are not going as planned in the early part of the Miami Dolphins' season would be an understatement - and perhaps the understatement of the year. This team has looked lost, confused, and unmotivated through the first three games, and the results have mirrored that. They snuck out a win against the Washington Redskins thanks to a punt return touchdown. They lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, due in no small part to a personal foul penalty that gave Jacksonville free yardage and landed them in field goal range. They lost to the Buffalo Bills when the Dolphins did not even bother to show up for their 2015 home opener.
Fifty seasons of Miami Dolphins football, 50 home openers, and none of them looked like what this team did this past weekend. The Bills marched up and down the field on Miami's vaunted defense and they overran Miami's offense. It was an embarassment at home, and one that, hopefully, will serve as the wake-up call this team needs.
“There’s only one way to go, is up. You can’t go lower than this," tight end Jordan Cameron said after the game when asked how the Dolphins bounce back following the 41-14 beatdown. Unfortunately, Cameron is wrong in that it can get worse. This team could fall lower, unless changes start right now.
The Dolphins head to London this weekend to face the New York Jets. They will be facing another AFC East opponent, this time with a head coach looking to prove Miami made a mistake when they did not offer him the head coaching position in 2012. Todd Bowles knows the Dolphins, and he is going to be looking to hit the Dolphins square in the chin. When the Bills did that, Miami wilted away. Will the same be true this weekend?
It will be if this week - and throughout the rest of the season - changes are not made. The Miami offense is having to play from behind each and every week. They are forced to throw the ball in order to make up points, and opponents know it. The defense can just tee off on quarterback Ryan Tannehill because they know he is going to be throwing. There are problems with the Miami offensive line, but those problems are exacerbated by the deficit Miami faces in the opening period of each and every game.
The defense, with All Pros Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, a Pro Bowl cornerbacker in Brent Grimes, and a potential Pro Bowl safety in Reshad Jones, have to start showing up for the game from the very first minute. Right now, the Dolphins seem to be allowing teams to dictate the first half, so Miami can see what they are doing, make halftime adjustments, then try to make a comeback. As we all saw with a 27-0 Bills lead at the intermission, waiting until the second half to be able to stop an offense puts way to much pressure on Miami's offense. The defense has to becoem the dominating, attacking, ferocious unit we all expected it to be this year.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has to dramatically make some changes this week, or else he should be fired after the Jets game. That would give any new defensive coordinator two weeks to try to fix whatever damage Coyle's "simplified" defense has done to these players.
Jones said after this week's game "We love Coach Coyle, it’s nothing on him, we’re just not making enough plays on the defensive end to win the ball game.” If Jones really means it, it is good that the players like their coach. Unfortunately, he is simply not getting the job done. He is not putting the players in the best position to win their individual battles, nor putting the Dolphins in the best position to win the game.
Why is Kelvin Sheppard still being beat every time he is in the game at middle linebacker?Could Koa Misi not be moved back to the middle to solidify the defense?
Why is Walt Aikens still starting over Michael Thomas at safety?
Where is the "speed package" Miami used over the last few season? Could Chris McCain not fill the Dion Jordan role?
None of this would solve every problem for the Dolphins (tackling?), but it should at least improve the team for a week.
After that, it may take head coach Joe Philbin to make the next change this team needs - a new defensive coordinator. And, even then, it might be too late for Philbin to save his job.