The Miami Dolphins were blown out before a national television audience three times in 2017. On January 8th, they got smoked on the road in a playoff loss at Pittsburgh, 30-12. Later, in the regular season, they were shellacked on October 26th, in a Thursday night contest at Baltimore, 40-0. And two weeks later, they were on the receiving end of a 45-21 lambasting in a Monday night game at Carolina.
What did these three games have in common, besides starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill missing all of them? Two things stand out. First and foremost, Miami didn’t belong on the same field with any of those three teams. The other takeaway from those games is that in each case, the Dolphins lost their poise and allowed what would have been at least a respectable loss to turn into a debacle. For Miami to take the next step as an organization and reach the next level in the National Football League, this must stop. If the other team is more talented than your team and is playing at home, in a night game, you know that they’re going to be favored to win. That doesn’t mean, however, that your team has to be a laughingstock at the water cooler in the office the next morning. In recent seasons, Miami has had a disturbing habit of melting down in big games like a discarded ice cream cone on a hot Summer day.
The coaching staff can’t control whether or not their team has as much talent as the one they’re lining up against each week. What is, or should be, within their control is being able to right the proverbial ship when things get dicey over the course of the game. Sometimes, a coach has to huddle with the players or his coordinators on the sidelines during the breaks and try to rally the troops. If the other team is simply better than yours, so be it, but don’t beat yourselves.
Of course, one reason for this is that the Dolphins haven’t been relevant enough to play in many big games for a while. Hopefully this will come to an end soon. In the meantime, Miami must play better defense, avoid turning the ball over on offense and limit the costly penalties that have ended too many of their drives the past few years.