The Miami Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday, which would have been an understandable and justifiable explanation of what should have happened during the teams’ Week 4 showdown. The Patriots are still the defending AFC Champions and, despite a slow start to the season, should be among the teams competing for that title again this year.
Instead of a simple explanation like that, however, we have a 38-7 loss by the Dolphins to try to explain. And, honestly, I am not even sure those were the Dolphins on the field on Sunday. The Patriots were able to pick apart Miami so thoroughly, the Dolphins could have still been on the plane during the game.
Missed tackles. Underthrown passes. Penalties. Injuries. Bad snaps. You name it, it probably happened at some point in the game.
Miami’s offense looked constipated from the start of the game and never found any rhythm that would have led to relief. The running game was non-existent,averaging just 3.1 yards on 18 carries. The passing game was not much better, with a 4.6 yards per attempt on 25 passing plays.
Injuries continue to mount for this team. DeVante Parker, no matter how frustrated with him the fans are, was missed during this game. The Patriots took advantage of the lack of size among Miami’s receivers, pushing them around at the line of scrimmage and staying with them all game. Parker could have provided the larger target Ryan Tannehill needed during the game.
Reshad Jones’ absence was obvious. The defense has so much flexibility when Jones is in the middle of the defense, with Minkah Fitzpatrick available to be moved around. Jones provides a presence to the defense that it just cannot have without him.
Add in Andre Branch, A.J. Derby, and Chase Allen to the players who were not available this week due to injury, and Miami was facing a situation where they could not absorb any more injuries.
During the game, Bobby McCain, Ja’Wuan James, and Daniel Kilgore both left the game, meaning the Dolphins had to absorb injuries. Travis Swanson replaced Kilgore, and the middle of the offensive line struggled after that, including the shotgun snap that Tannehill could not handle. Sam Young, who repeatedly reported as eligible during the game to work as a sixth offensive lineman, replaced James.
Tannehill struggled all game. His accuracy was off, with underthrows and throws behind receivers too common. He was 11-for-20 for 100 yards with an interception and just never looked comfortable on the field. It was the worst day we have seen from Tannehill in a while, and it is one he has to not repeat any time soon.
The defense could not communicate - and were beaten by the permitted-from-the-Patriots-only pick play because of it. They could not do much of anything throughout the game - allowing 175 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while Tom Brady through for 274 yards with three touchdowns. The Patriots did exactly what you need to do against Miami’s defense: attack the middle of the field and make the linebackers perform. They were also able to keep the Dolphins’ pass rush from getting to Brady, with too many times single-man blocking being able to shutdown Cameron Wake.
They did intercept Brady twice, one by Bobby McCain and one by Minkah Fitzpatrick, his first career interception, but that was about the highlights of the game for Miami.
Even the punting game was off on Sunday, with Matt Haack unable to be the field-position changer he normally is. He had kicks that were around 25 yards against the Patriots, which crushed his season average and set up the Patriots in good field position seemingly all day.
Basically, Miami did not show up on Sunday, and the Patriots took advantage of it. The Dolphins still hold the lead in the AFC East, now one-game ahead of the Patriots, but they have a lot of things to fix before they face the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.