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Dolphins flop their way to another loss

The Miami Dolphins had one shining moment against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. Then, they just became a mess.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins opened up their Week 4 contest with the Cincinnati Bengals with some fireworks on offense. After an 11-play, 54-yard drive for a field goal from the Bengals, Miami came out on fire, picking up seven yards on a pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Jarvis Landry on first down, then scoring a touchdown on a 74-yard pass from Tannehill to Kenny Stills. Miami finally found their fast start and we ready to roll through the Thursday Night Football contest.

Except, that 74-yard pass also marked the extinguishing of any fire the offense had.

After four quarters, the Dolphins have picked up just another 141 yards on the night, with a total of eight first downs. Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green had more receptions (10) than the Dolphins had first downs, he had more receiving yards (173) than the Dolphins had passing yards as a team and more than the total yards the Dolphins had the entire game outside of that first two play drive. Green also had as many touchdowns as the Dolphins scored throughout the game.

The offense could not move the ball. The defense could not stop the Bengals.

Outside of the Tannehill to Stills touchdown, the stars of the game for Miami were familiar names: Jarvis Landry, with seven receptions for 61 yards; Reshad Jones with nine tackles and a pass defense; and Matt Darr with seven punts for a 49.1 yards per kick average, a 66 yard punt, and three punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

There are excuses that can be made for this game. Byron Maxwell did something to get himself benched. Two thirds of the starting linebackers were out of the game. The offensive line was scrambled due to injuries. There are reasons for Miami to lose, but it does not change the fact that the team should not look this bad, even with those reasons.

Tannehill’s interception was a horrible play. Landry dropped a first-down catch late in the game. Tony Lippett could not keep up with Green. The Dolphins only ran the ball 13 times; partly because they were in catch up mode for much of the game, but they still never established a running game, despite Jay Ajayi averaging 5.5 yards a carry on his six attempts, Kenyan Drake picking up 15 yards on two carries, and Damien Williams picking up nine yards on his two attempts.

Before the season, the predictions had Miami starting the season 1-3, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, the New England Patriots in Week 2, and the Bengals in Week 4, with a win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. Now that those first four games are complete, that is exactly how things turned out. The Dolphins will return to Miami on a long home-stand, a time where they can try to turn around the ship. This year was never about making a playoff appearance, but rather that the team is progressing and getting better under Adam Gase.

The question is, are they? Are they better this week than they were in Week 1? Are they taking forward steps?

Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say Adam Gase is not doing his job, or that he needs to be fired. It is just to say, right now, that is why fans are struggling to support the team. They have not looked good, and the progress is not there right now. Gase now has 10 days to fix it.

The Dolphins are working toward something, but right now, they are a mess. Thursday night never looked good after the team’s second offensive play. This is another loss to somehow get over, both for the team and the fans. This is a year that is going to likely have a lot of these. That will never make it easier, and right now, it sucks. Where does the team go from here? Gase has to figure that out quickly.