FanPost

Then and Now: Philbin vs Gase vs Philbin, Game 28

This is part of my ongoing series which tracks the careers of the Dolphins' three most recent permanent head coaches, along with my feelings about the team at each stage. This week, I look back at Game #38 for the three HCs.

Recap of Games 37

Joe Philbin's 2-2 group lost a nail-biter to the visiting Green Bay Packers, thanks to a "why the hell was he out there?" personnel decision regarding Phillip Wheeler. That put them at 2-3 and put me feeling like I had since around mid-2013 about Philbin's leadership.

Four years later, in 2018, Adam Gase's 3-1 Dolphins firmly wrestled defeat out of the loving arms of victory, courtesy of a 4th quarter meltdown. Ryan Tannehill had arguably his worst quarter in his up-and-down time in Miami, surrendering a pick-6, a fumble returned for a touchdown, and an injury that put him out of commission for the next several weeks. The team still had a winning record at 3-2, but showed virtually zero signs that they were headed in the right direction.

This season, our beleaguered group made a good show of it for two and a half quarters against the powerhouse, defending Superbowl champ Buccaneers. Alas, another 4th quarter meltdown (it's clearly a theme with game 37s) saw a competitive game turn into an absolute giggler of a defeat. The 45-17 loss drops our guys to 1-4, leaving only the slimmest of hopes that they can still right the ship in time to be remotely relevant in 2021.

Game 38 (Season 3, Game 6)

Back in 2014, Philbin's Fins headed into Chicago to face a very mediocre Bears team, featuring one Smokin' Jay Cutler under center. Our guys got off to a nice, steady start, shutting out the Bears in the first half while putting up a touchdown in each of the first two quarters. Both were Tannehill passes, one to Charles Clay and the other to Mike Wallace (yes, he did catch TD passes for us). It got interesting for a little while in the 3rd quarter, after Matt Forte ran in a TD to put the score at 14-7. But it was mostly Miami from that point, as they put up another TD on a Lamar Miller run, along with two more field goals by Caleb Sturgis. Final score: 27-17. Fins win, improve to 3-3, and get back to Joe Philbin's happy place: .500.

Four years later, Gase's team also faced off against the Bears, this time in Miami. This game is best known as the "Brock ‘Wizard of Os' Osweiler" game. This game had a weird, slow burn aspect to it. The first half was a real snoozer, with the only points coming from an Osweiler TD pass to tight end Nick O'Leary. But the Bears came out slinging in the 3rd quarter, with Mitch Trubisky (yes, that Mitch Trubisky) throwing two TD passes, and Chicago RB Tarik Cohen running in another one. The Dolphins tried to keep up, but could only muster a couple of Jason Sanders field goals to head into the 4th quarter down 21-13. Then things really ramped up. In what was maybe the best quarter of NFL football he ever played, Brock Osweiler completes a 43-yard TD pass to Albert Wilson, then gets the 2-point conversion on a pass to Kenny Stills. The Bears respond with another Trubisky TD pass to put the Bears up, 28-21, with only 3:17 left to play. No problem. On the first offensive play after the touchback, Albert Wilson takes a modest Osweiler pass and turns it into a 75-yard touchdown dash. Tie game, and we head to overtime. The OT period was a total war of attrition, with the Dolphins ultimately possessing the ball last and setting up a Jason Sanders 47-yard, game-winning field goal. Gase's Fins go to 4-2 and get back a bit of the goodwill that they had lost in the previous two games' losses.

This brings us to the near-present and in London against the Jags. I won't bother with the details, but it was a painfully familiar show. Start well with a nice TD drive, followed by some solid defensive play. Then, lose any semblance of flow on either side of the ball for the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Wake up again in the fourth, but come up short. The only key difference here is that it wasn't against mediocre opponents like the Colts or Raiders. No, this was against a team that had lost 20 straight games. Dolphins lose in London, 23-20, and drop to 1-5 on the year. A year in which we nearly all presumed that they would make the jump into being a legitimate playoff team.

My Comparative Emotions After Each Game

I recall watching that 2014 win over the Bears at my buddy Clint's house (as I usually did) and feeling good about the win, though hardly ecstatic. I honestly don't remember much about the game, though I recall there being a silly, chippy moment where Branson Marshall got a stupid 15-yard penalty for jokingly tossing the football at Jay Cutler while talking some trash after a nice reception. That 2014 Bears team was pretty bad (they ended up going 5-11 under head coach Marc Trestman), and they looked it. At this point, it was pretty clear that Joe Philbin's teams could beat most bad teams, even on the road. So there wasn't much to take away from this one. There we sat, right back at .500, which is right around where we always were through Philbin's first 38 games. Nothing to see here. Wake me up when we beat someone good.

That 2018 win over the Bears was a lot of fun. I had just moved myself down to San Antonio, Texas, and my only way to watch the game was to go to a semi-sports bar/restaurant near my parents' place. It's a huge place with countless TVs, but of course they only had the Dolphins/Bears game on one tiny television. And when the Dallas Cowboys game came on as overtime started, every other game got shut off. I was livid about that, and ended up tracking the overtime on my phone with the goofy play-by-play function. As my wife drove me home (I had partaken of more than a few adult beverages), I let out a nice little yell and fist pump as I saw Sanders' field goal register as "good." If you'll recall, that Bears team was actually good, thanks to a really strong defense and a just-good-enough offense (they went 12-4 and made the playoffs). I actually allowed myself to think that, when Ryan Tannehill came back, this team had a chance to finally become its best self. After all, they were back to two games over .500 and things were looking up.

How do I feel about this loss to the Jags? I'm finally, officially out on the Brian Flores Era. I saw this as his absolute last chance to restore any hope that he could turn around the debacle that's been the 2021 season. And while it wasn't a total horror show, it was a bad enough display of poor coaching that I have zero expectations for the rest of this season. And I also have zero expectation that anything will improve as long as Brian Flores is head coach of the Miami Dolphins. If he couldn't see how badly changes needed to be made with so many elements of this team and effectively implement them coming into this week, then it's simply not going to happen. As I write this, it's about six hours after the game ended. No word on whether anyone has lost their jobs or not, but I won't be surprised if someone - maybe several someones - is handed a pink slip upon their return to the United States. In a way, I'm almost thankful. At least now we won't have to be dragged through several more games or even another full season of "Is Flores the guy?" questions. It's clear now. He's not.

Preview: Game 39

With their 3-3 record, Joe Philbin's team was headed to Jacksonville to face a pretty putrid Jaguars team that was sitting on a 1-6 record and in the first year of the immortal Blake Bortles Era. Four years later, Gase's crew would host a 2-3 Detroit Lions team in their first year under longtime Belichick underling Matt Patricia. And as for next week? It's really just academic at this point, but back to the U.S. and South Beach, where the mercurial Atlanta Falcons will roll in. Outcomes no longer really matter. It's all about player evaluation at this point, to see who is worth keeping around beyond 2021. Unless, of course, Flores gets canned and we're looking at an interim head coach. Honestly, though, I don't know who would make a decent interim, as they're all young guys who Flores brought in and have performed poorly. What a mess.

Feel free to share your memories or feelings from the distant past or this most recent Dolphins debacle. Group therapy, y'all!

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.