The Miami Dolphins were destroyed last Sunday as they visited the New England Patriots, losing the game 38-7 and never looking like they belonged on the same field as their AFC East rivals. Everything that could go wrong for Miami seemed to go wrong, and no one had any answer for anything that was happening.
With no answers in the game, there were plenty of questions left after the game, as our Week 5 Phinsider Mailbag clearly demonstrated. Once again, you brought some strong questions to the mailbag, and here are the answers to some of them. Many of the questions this week were similar, so I selected one that I thought would allow me to touch on most of the other questions.
If you want to get your question into next week’s mailbag, watch for the request post on Wednesday. Or, you can always leave the question on Twitter using the #AskPhinsider hashtag so we can find it.
Let’s get to the questions:
With McCain out, who do you see starting at the 2nd corner spot? - PhilbinTheBlanks
I think it will be Torry McTyer, but I want it to be Cordrea Tankersley. McTyer has been the more consistent player between the two, and he deserves the first crack at the position, but I want Tankersley to fix whatever his issue has been this year and look more like the cornerback he possibly could be. I still feel like something has shaken Tankersley’s confidence, and he has to find that cornerback swagger if he wants to be more than a depth/inactive player the rest of this year.
Why do fans freak out so much after one loss, a loss that was expected nonetheless? - finsfan7
This has definitely been a week full of “the sky is falling” analysis and reactions. While I don’t think this season is over by any stretch of the imagination, that was definitely a painful way to watch the team lose, especially when it felt like things were setup for a Miami win (finally) in Foxboro. I understand the disappointment, but I do think some of the reactions are over-the-top - which is probably also true about some of the reactions from the Dolphins being 3-0 to start the year. There is a lot that needs to be fixed with this team, and the Patriots did a good job of exploiting weaknesses, exactly like they have over the past decade-plus, but I think there is enough talent on this team for them to rebound.
What adjustments to play calling and offensive game planning can we expect Gase to make? - MassPhinsPhan
The run game has to appear. That really is the bulk of the issue, at least from my vantage point, right now. The run game opens up the play-action pass, which opens up the middle of the field, which then will allow for the deep game to open up. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore have to get the ball more, and they need to produce - which also means the offensive line needs to run-block better. The offense has to force the ball to Drake and Gore, even if they are being stopped early in the game, to make sure they are wearing down the defense and opening up passing lanes. I think a big part of the reason for the screen passes that most fans hate to see run by Miami is that the coaches realize the run-game is not helping right now, so they are looking to replace it with the screen pass, trying to draw the defensive up close before unleashing the speed deep. Get the run game re-started, and everything else should a fall into place.
How are the Dolphins going to prevent Geno Atkins and the Bengals D-line from dominating on Sunday? - 39 is number 1
The offensive line will definitely have their collective hands full. Sam Young was used as a sixth offensive lineman on Sunday, and I would expect to see more of that - assuming Ja’Wuan James does not need to be replaced. Otherwise, I would anticipate Durham Smythe playing more of a sixth offensive lineman role. With the shake ups on the line, this is going to be the make-or-break part of the game for Miami’s offense - and there are not a lot of easy answers here.
How do you think the loss of Gray effected how Gase wanted to run his offense this season? - Louie the lobster
This is a great question and one I had to stop and think about. I believe Gase saw a key option to his offense disappear with Gray’s injury. Gray was versatile enough to be a blocker and a receiver, and he could do both well enough that he had to be respected in both facets. Mike Gesicki and Gray being on the field would have been a good combination for Ryan Tannehill. I think Gray was a big part of the plans this year, especially as Gesicki gets used to the speed of the game and develops as an NFL pass catcher and blocker.
After looking at the All-22 I have never seen Tannehill be so inaccurate. What do you think happened to him? - Gilmiaspr
I really have no idea. The Patriots did a great job of staying with Miami’s receivers on Sunday, with no one able to create separation on a lot of the plays. At the end of the day, however, Tannehill was just off for the entire game. Maybe he was pressing too much and trying to force something to happen. Maybe he let the stage overwhelm him for some reason. Maybe it was just a bad game. Whatever the case, it was a BAD game.
“I need to be better,” Tannehill said Wednesday. “I need to be better. As the leader of this offense, we go as I go, so I’ve got to be better.” He was not kidding. The only good part is, if this was just a bad game, at least it came when everyone else was having a bad game as well.
Did it REALLY make sense to release Jordan Phillips when we have not even replaced William Hayes? Even if Phillips is not very productive, and even if he was a malcontent, he’s still a big body that takes up his share of snaps in the DT rotation, and requires some level of attention by the opposing offensive line! - Redwood_
Lots of questions about Phillips this week, with many of them seeming to be upset that the Dolphins did not trade him. First, it seems like this is a situation where the Dolphins are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. If they kept him, there would be stories about why Miami is keeping an underperforming player who is yelling at coaches on the sideline. If they cut him, they are wrong for not manufacturing a trade market for a player who was underperforming and was blowing up at coaches on the sideline. Yes, the Bills claimed Jordan, and yes, the Steelers, Patriots, and Saints were all said to have put in waiver claims as well, but waiver claims cost a team nothing. Who was going to give up a draft pick for a player that, despite great flashes and potential, hard twice worked his way out of a starting position and was not causing issues on the sidelines and in the team facilities?
As for the role Phillips had, he was quickly playing himself out of even that. Yes, Miami is thin at defensive line positions right now thanks to injuries, but at this point, it does not seem like the coaches trusted Phillips to perform. He was a bust as a second-round pick who had first-round talent but never played consistently enough to warrant the pick. It was time for Miami to cut bait and let him go somewhere else. Maybe he clears his head - especially after celebrating that he was waived - and the change of scenery does him well. Maybe not. We will see what happens.
I liked Phillips and thought he should be a starter. But, at this point, he has clearly been surpassed by Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. If he is going to have issues with a role behind those players, he needs to just be gone. I know people say this is a “statement” from Adam Gase, similar to Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas, and Jay Ajayi moves in previous seasons, and maybe it is, but, as with Turner and Thomas, that statement seems to have simply been, “You are not performing, so goodbye.”
Do you think we might run some bootlegs like the first two games to help loosen up the defense for Drake/Gore? We’ve been bad with executing screen passes in recent years, but will we attempt some to get Drake the ball with more space? - pfinimager
This kind of ties back to an earlier question about play calling, but the idea of the bootlegs and screens to Drake made me include it here. The Dolphins do need to look at moving Tannehill around more, especially as they try to piece back together the offensive line. They need to use his athleticism to their advantage. As long as he is not throwing behind receivers like he did on Sunday when he was running.
Screens to Drake make sense in terms of getting him touches. They have to get him the ball anyway they can, and they need to do something creative to find him some space. Screens to the running back, as much as fans are hating screen passes right now, would make sense if they cannot get the running game started.
#AskPhinsider Considering how poorly we played and how vanilla the play calling was Sunday do you think Gase threw the game to humble his players and to play gamesmanship with Belichick?— kdevilphin84 (@kdevilphin84) October 3, 2018
Looks like Gase is scrambling for answers. On the D line, on the O line, in the running game, in the secondary and on the sideline. If you were to ask me if Gase is in trouble, I’d have to say yes. Every team has injuries and it’s always next man up. But our pool of talented backups is mighty shallow. This could bite Gase and the FO in the butt should we even be lucky enough to pull off an 8-8. - Don’tTellMEThisUserNameIsUnavailable
There were a lot of questions like this one, where it seems like fans are ready to fire Adam Gase and move on to the next head coach. Not counting Todd Bowles’ three games as an interim head coach, Gase is the first coach to be over .500 since Dave Wannstedt’s 42-31 stint from 2000-2004. Nick Saban was 15-17 in two seasons, Cam Cameron was 1-15 in one campaign, Tony Sparano was 29-32 over four seasons, and Joe Philbin was 24-28 in four seasons. Add in Dan Cambell’s 5-7 record in 12 games as the interim head coach and Jime Bates’ 3-4 in seven games as interim head coach, and Miami has not had a good streak of coaches lately - but at 19-17 - including 6-10 with Jay Cutler and Matt Moore at quarterback - we are ready to declare Gase a bust of a hire?
I get it, we are all frustrated, but Gase should not be considered on the hot seat unless the bottom completely falls out of this season. I am not ready to say that one horrible loss to the Patriots is the bottom falling out of a season.