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Then & Now: Flores v Gase v Philbin, Games 35 - 37

Playing some real catchup with this little series of mine. I've been doing one of these posts every game week for nearly a year now, but it got tougher in recent weeks. Life got busy, and the Dolphins haven't exactly inspired an unstoppable urge to write about them. Still, I would like to get back to it, so I'm going to condense three posts into one here. I'll cover games 35, 36, and 37 of our three most recent permanent head coaches, and how they compared to each other.

Game 35 (Season 3, Game 3)

In 2014, Joe Philbin's 1-1 Dolphins hosted the Chiefs and punched back from a lame first half to make things competitive. Using mostly field goals, it was a one score game heading into the fourth quarter, where it stayed interesting until the final five minutes. The Chiefs pulled away for a 34-15 win, dropping our guys to 1-2. I recall feeling mildly nauseous about this one, as it was yet another example of how Joe Philbin's teams just couldn't beat good opponents. And this wasn't even one of Andy Reid's later, really good Chiefs teams.

In 2018, Adam Gase's 2-0 squad hosted the Raiders in Jon Gruden's first year as returning head coach. It was a close game that ultimately provided one of the more fun, memorable moments in recent Fins history -€” the Albert Wilson/Jakeem Grant 74-yard "high five" touchdown to seal the win in the final minutes. And that was shortly after another electric, 54-yard TD pass to Grant from Wilson himself. Seeing such an entertaining win to get to 3-0 inspired real hope that the Adam Gase thing was maybe getting back on track, and that the wins would "solve" the other shortcomings that Gase clearly had as a head coach.

This season, Brian Flores' team had presumably licked its wounds from getting humiliated by the Bills the previous week, and went off to Vegas. The offense was putrid for over three quarters, then woke up enough to send the game into overtime. Alas, it was too little, too late and the team lost on an OT field goal, dropping to 1-2. That wasn't a doomed record, but watching that lame offense and the "I forgot to do my homework" desperation at the end was just sad. The fight the team showed at the end was admirable, but there was little in this game to change my feeling that this coaching staff, especially on the offensive side, didn't know what it was doing.

Game 36 (Season 3, Game 4)

Joe Philbin's 1-2 Dolphins went to London to face a then-pathetic Oakland Raiders team led by Dennis Allen and featuring rookie QB Derek Carr. The Raiders struck first with a short Carr TD pass, but then the Phins went HAM and scored 38 unanswered points. A garbage time TD put the final score at 38-14, but it was a one-sided beatdown that left me feeling some hope. Sure, the Raiders were clearly awful, but a blowout win always inspires at least a little hope. Back to the classic Philbin .500 record at 2-2.

Four years later, Adam Gase took their perfect 3-0 record into New England, where of course the inevitable happened. As they've so often done, the Patriots slapped the Dolphins and us fans out of our delirium of thinking that our team was any good, dropping a 38-7 drubbing on us. It was classic Pats, too, with Brady completing TD passes to a typical run of marginal wide receivers: Cordarrelle Patterson. Phillip Dorsett. James White. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet for Pats pass catchers, and they came hungry. I remember feeling just about every ounce of wind knocked out of my sails after this one, despite the team's record still being a very respectable 3-1. It was yet another moment in the Gase era where it was clear that his team had no business being on the field with true contenders.

A little over two weeks ago, Flores' 1-2 squad hosted the Colts in what looked like a perfect "get right" game. The Colts were missing around a third of their starters, and QB Carson Wentz was playing on two gimpy ankles. Our guys should handle this just fine, right? Wrong. Once again, the offense was nauseatingly anemic for three full quarters. Down 20-3, the 17 offensive coordinators finally realized that they were allowed to pass more than five yards downfield, but it was once again too late. The deficit was cut to 10 points for a little under five minutes, but ultimately the defense wore down and the game was lost, 27-17. This was the game when real alarm bells went off. There had been no adjustments to the terrible showing by the offense as a whole, and the offensive line in particular, resulting in my hopes for this season thinning out to translucent levels.

Game 37 (Season 3, Game 5)

Back in 2014, Philbin's Fins hosted the Green Bay Packers. We all remember this one as the "Philip Wheeler Game," as the Fins were in great position to hold on for a tough win, but blew it not once but twice by leaving the lumbering LB Wheeler out to cover Packers' tight end Andrew Quarless. This was even after the Fins had called a timeout to get their defense right. It was pretty classic Philbin era stuff, where the team does enough to win a tough game, but a dumb oversight results in a late-game loss. I remember being really angry after this one -€” a testament to how, despite my having seen it several times up to this point in Philbin's reign, I still had hope that this was a relevant Dolphins team.

In 2018, Gase's team was coming off the gnarly buzzkill loss in Foxborough and hosted a 3-1 Bengals squad in Miami. The team looked like it was on its way to a solid win and a 4-1 record, taking a 17-3 lead into the fourth quarter. Then, it all unraveled in spectacular fashion. Andy Dalton threw a TD pass to start the final period. Three minutes later, Tannehill throws a pick-6 to tie the game. After some jostling, the Bengals go up by 3 on a field goal with three and a half minutes left. With the ball and a chance to at least tie the game, Tannehill gets unmercifully sacked, fumbles, and the Bengals recover and return it for a touchdown. Dolphins lose, 27-17. I remember keeping tabs on this game while packing my house in Philadelphia to move my wife and I down to San Antonio, Texas. It was depressing, and I think that I unconsciously gave up on that year's team at that point. It felt like all the good feelings built up during the 3-0 start were already a distant memory, and there would be no recovery from there, despite the team still having a winning 3-2 record.

This past Sunday, we saw what happens when a floundering team led by questionable coaching faces a defending Superbowl champion that is clicking. It gets ugly. I have to say, though, that things looked somewhat hopeful for a while. The Fins started off fine, jumping out to a 10-7 before allowing 17 unanswered points to the Bucs potent offense. But our guys actually bounced back in the third quarter, first getting a defensive stop, then putting together a nice TD drive to get the score to 24-17 with 6:56 left in the third. It was all downhill from there, though, as our defense crumbled and the Bucs defense clamped down. The fourth quarter was a murder scene that left the final score 45-17. At this point, I had mostly given up on this season's Fins being legitimate, so a bad loss wasn't a surprise. I did see a few glimmers of hope for some sort of turnaround, but they are still very feint.

Looking Ahead to Game 38 (Season 3, Game 6)

Joe Philbin's 2-3 Dolphins would head to Chicago to face another NFC North team, though one far less scary than the Packers team who just hung a tough L on them. Coincidentally Gase's 2018 team would also face Chicago in south Florida to try and recover from their version of an ugly loss. And now? Brian Flores' group of question marks wearing aqua and teal heads across the Atlantic to face a woeful Jaguars team that has all sorts of issues at every level. It could be pretty momentous, for all the wrong reasons.

Have any memories or feelings of any of these moments from Fins games past? Air it out in the comments section!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.