Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans ended the way every Miami Dolphins fan should want - the fight song blaring, “Dolphins Win” flashing across the video boards, and fans chanting as they work their way down the spirals to exit the stadium. IT was a great, fun moment.
During the game was anything but what a Dolphins fan should want, at least when it comes to the team’s offense. Again, the offense had no rhythm and looked like they could not get out of their own way. Penalties, drops, fumbles, and short passes dominated on offense that was expected to be a high-powered, explosive unit this year. Chants of “We want Moore,” referencing backup quarterback Matt Moore, and people yelling that the team had to run the ball on every single play so starting quarterback Jay Cutler could not thrown an interception worked their way throughout Hard Rock Stadium during the game.
On a day when the defense showed exactly what it could be, with two fumble recoveries (both by Reshad Jones, one returned for a touchdown), six sacks (including two from Andre Branch and the first career sack for first-round draft choice Charles Harris), 11 quarterback hits (four from Cameron Wake who record a half-sack), and just 188 total yards allowed, the offense showed what no one wants it to be. Cutler threw for a grand total of 92 yards. Running back Jay Ajayi ran for 77 yards with a 3.1 yards per attempt average and a lost fumble. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry had four receptions, and, other then Ajayi who caught two passes, no one else on the team had more than one reception. Wide receiver DeVante Parker appears to have a sprained ankle that forced him from most of the game.
Miami allowed just 188 total yards - but only gained 178 yards of their own.
The offense is a mess - and none of that even touches on the resignation of offensive line coach Chris Foerster today after a video shows him snorting a white powder in what appears to be a Dolphins office.
The Dolphins have to make changes on the offense. Likely promoting Chris Kuper, an eight-year guard for the Denver Broncos, into the suddenly vacant offensive line coach will be a start. But it will not be enough. The Dolphins have to find a way to re-establish their identity, because right now, there does not seem to be one.
Unless you count the three-yard pass to Landry as an identity. And the team is getting frighteningly close to that.
The Dolphins have to get back to running the ball with Ajayi, and being successful doing it. They have to open running lanes along the line, and they need to pass protect for Cutler. Cutler needs to find more than just Landry for three yards and hope the receiver can make something happen. Wide receiver Landry, Parker, Kenny Stills, and Jakeem Grant have to get open and actually make catches. There were times last year that Cutler had no choice but to short-hop a pass or launch it out of bounds because no one was getting any separation - of course the stands immediately erupted in boos for Cutler, but with no one open, there was not a lot he could do.
And, can someone please find a tight end?
How bad has this offense been thus far? They are averaging 10.3 points per game, good enough for dead-last in the league. The 0-5 Cleveland Browns and the 1-3 Chicago Bears - who play on Monday Night Football tonight to close out Week 5 - are 30th and 31st in the league, respectively, averaging 15.4 and 15.3 points per game, or a full five points more than the Dolphins can put up in a given week. The league’s top team? The Kansas City Chiefs, who have scored 32.8 points per game this year - or better than three-times what the Dolphins are averaging.
Execution on the field has been abysmal. The play calling is not much better. Cutler is checking out of plays and into the three-yard pass because there is no threat of the team doing anything, so opposing defenses are stacking the box and daring the Dolphins to pass. Head coach Adam Gase admitted that he should have brought in play action passes earlier in the game, especially looking back on the Dolphins finally seeming to find some sort of rhythm late in the game when they started using the fakes.
Changes have to be made. Anthony Fasano needs to be on the field more as a blocker and as a receiving option, because Julius Thomas is not getting it done as the starting tight end. Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker (assuming his ankle allows) need to be deep threats, not decoys and slant receivers. Landry needs to be the possession receiver going to the sticks, not the dump-off option. Bubble screens need to be eliminated. The offensive line needs to solidify (Anthony Steen took all of the snaps at left guard this week, with Jesse Davis only playing on special teams).
None of these changes address the idea of the Dolphins flipping Cutler for Moore. It could happen, and maybe it eventually will, but right now, Gase is committed to his starting quarterback. And, honestly, would Moore make any difference? Probably not because the offensive issues are not purely on the quarterback position.
Changes need to be made soon for the Dolphins, or else this offense is going to be a season-long three-year pass to Jarvis Landry.