The Miami Dolphins have started the season a disappointing 1-3, especially disappointing after the performance the team had in their Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. But is 1-3 as disappointing as it seems?
Before the season started, back in April when the schedule was first released, the talk was all about how tough a start three road games against 2015 playoff teams in the first four weeks was going to be on a young Dolphins team still learning a new offensive and a new defensive system. Miami was asked to go to Seattle, go to Boston, and go to Cincinnati, and somehow come away with wins. Those early schedule analyses recognized just how difficult the task in front of the Dolphins really would be. SUTTON in April wrote, “We open the schedule with 3 out of 4 road games against high quality 2015 Playoff teams. Absolutely brutal.” There was no way to hide the tough gauntlet Miami faced coming out of the gate.
Then, the Dolphins came out of the gate and lost their first two contests, as was predicted, then won at home against the Cleveland Browns, as predicted, and lost their fourth game, as predicted. Essentially, the Dolphins did exactly what everyone thought they would do, and now everyone is upset because they did it.
The Dolphins have not looked like a dominant team so far this year, but it seems to be a myriad of issues creeping up, and not one major thing that is causing the problems for the team. The offensive line is not always blocking well, the quarterback is not always making the right decisions, the wide receivers are not always hold on to ball that hit them in the hands, the running backs are not always gaining yards, the defensive line is not always getting after the quarterback, the linebackers are not always finishing tackles, the cornerbacks are not always covering their man like they should, the safeties are not always helping the cornerbacks, and the coaches are not always making the right play call and putting players in position to succeed. Basically, everyone seems to have a part in the struggles for the Dolphins, and everyone has to have a role in fixing the team.
Which brings up a question. Do the Dolphins just need time?
The Dolphins made it through the brutal start of the season. Now, they have four straight home games over a span of five weeks. Are they going to be able to put a better product on the field and turn around a season that should be more about progressing rather than being a Super Bowl contender?
“The way this offense goes is, the longer you’re in it, the easier it gets, the faster you can play, the easier the checks are,” head coach Adam Gase said this week. “We are struggling where, we’re trying to get in the right deal, somebody makes a mistake, we get the wrong read, we mess up the protection. That’s part of the process, that’s part of the learning experience. It’s no fun going through this part of it.
“I’ve gone through this before twice,” Gase continued. “In 2012, we did the same thing, we sputtered around and went 2-3 and we looked terrible. And then it clicked for us and we rattled off 11 straight. Last year in Chicago, it was the same thing. We struggled early and the more comfortable I got with the quarterback and he got with me, it made things easier. Guys started to learn what to do, we made less mistakes, we gave ourselves a chance.”
Is it possible the Dolphins need time to figure out this season? I know the calls of the “Patience Brigade” will immediately start with this idea, but it does seem possible. The Dolphins got an incredibly tough start to the season, as they are trying to get comfortable with the new offense. Time is not the answer to all of the issues for the team, but it could be enough of an answer for the 2016 Dolphins to start looking better.
There are changes coming to the team in the offseason, but that was expected as the team moves from the first year under Gase into the second and starts to become more of “his” team. That does not mean the 2016 season in a complete waste from here on out, however. The Dolphins may not become a great team this year, but with some time, they could at least become better than what we have seen thus far.
So, maybe the Dolphins do just need a little time.
Hopefully these 10 days between last Thursday’s game and next Sunday’s contest is enough time to start making those improvements.