Then & Now: Flores v Gase v Philbin, Game 40

This is part of my ongoing series where I track the careers of the Dolphins' three most recent permanent head coaches, all at the same point in the their careers with Miami. This week, it's game 40, or season 3, game 8.

Recap of Games 39:

Back in 2014, Joe Philbin upped his team's record to 4-3 after a routine and fairly mundane win over the yet-again-pathetic Jacksonville Jaguars. There wasn't a ton to take away from the game aside from a tiny bit more proof that Philbin's teams could beat clearly bad ones.

Four years later, Adam Gase followed up an exciting win over the Bears with an equally pathetic loss to a bad Lions team. Sure, Ryan Tannehill was out with an injury, leaving Brock Osweiler to man the QB position (never a great situation to be in), but that Lions team was below average at best. It was the kind of loss that a team with any sort of playoff aspirations doesn't take. The team still had a winning record at 4-3, but we were all right back in that "what is this team, anyway?" state of mind.

Two Sundays ago, Brian Flores' group found another way to inspire a dash of hope before losing ugly, this time to a Falcons team with some obvious talent but also some exploitable flaws. An accumulation of mental errors and head-scratching offensive play calls lead to yet another loss, dropping this year's team to 1-6.

Games 40 (or Season 3, Game 8)

Joe Philbin, 2014: It took a little while for this one to get going, but once it did, it became a hands-down laugher. It was scoreless through most of the first quarter, until Ryan Tannehill connected with Charles Clay for a TD pass with 1:40 left. Then the flood gates were open. The Fins scored 13 more unanswered points in the 2nd quarter, then added 17 on top of those in the 3rd quarter. Tannehill added TD passes to Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry, while Caleb Sturgis ran field goal drills, connecting on three of them. The Chargers, despite having several Pro Bowl-caliber players like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Keenan Allen, couldn't get anything going against the Dolphins defense. Final score: Fins 37, Chargers 0. A no-doubt-about-it blowout. The team improves to 5-3.

Adam Gase, 2018: It's hard to remember, but the Texans were a pretty scary team back in 2018. They came into the game with a modest 4-3 record, but that offense was already looking terrifying with QB DeShaun Watson showing what a real arm can do with the bevy of great wideouts that Houston had. It was only Watson's second year and 14th start, but he clearly had the goods. Despite this, the Dolphins actually made a game of it for a while. Kenyan Drake got it going first for the Fins with a touchdown run towards the end of the first quarter, with the Texans answering pretty quickly with a Lamar Miller TD. From then, it was the tit-for-tat, with the Texans staying just ahead of the Dolphins. The score at the end of the 3rd quarter was 28-20, Houston - still very much a competitive game. Then Watson and the Texans offense flexed right out of their jerseys. In less than a minute of game time, they capped a stunning drive with a 49-yard TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Miami only mustered a field goal in response, followed by a methodical drive by Houston ending with a short TD pass, again to Hopkins. And that was all she wrote. Fins lose, 42-23, dropping their record to 4-4.

Brian Flores, 2021: Flores' Fins headed up to Orchard Park, the anchor of their 1-6 hanging around their necks, to see if they could avoid yet another humiliating loss at the hands of their tormentor of the past few seasons. It was ugly but weirdly promising for much of the game. It was a sad 3-3 score at the half, with the Fins defense having shown up for its best half of the season. But as the score shows, the offense was almost nowhere to be found. This kept up through the third quarter, though the defense started to crack, leaving the score 17-3 at that point and hope all but gone. Somehow, though, the offense woke up for a series and put together a solid touchdown drive capped by Tua running it in. A 2-point conversion later, and hope was renewed. Alas, that was all the offense had left in it. The Bills tacked on another touchdown to go up 20-11, and then a late Tua interception iced it. Buffalo rubbed some salt in, with a late TD. Chalk up another loss for the 2021 season, dropping the team's record to a paltry 1-7.

Comparative Emotions

I can't recall the circumstances, but I know that I wasn't able to actually watch the big win over the Chargers back in 2014. I recall keeping track online, wishing I had been able to watch one of the few definitive beatings that the Philbin Era Dolphins dished out. I recall feeling mildly hopeful that the team had taken a step forward, but we had all been there before with Philbin's teams. I would need to see several inspiring wins in a row before I believed it would be real.

I watched the 2018 loss to the Texans here in San Antonio, where I had recently moved and was staying with my parents while the wife and I set up a place to live. We were all watching it together, and I recall not being in any way surprised that (1) that Brock Osweiler-led team somehow stayed in a game they had little business staying in, or (2) that the fourth quarter was a one-way beatdown resulting in another loss. I remember starting to mentally pull out of that season a bit at that point. I wasn't totally out yet, though, as the team was 4-4 and still clinging to some sort of hope.

Our current squad? What can we say? I suppose it was a little heartening to see the defense show up for most of the game, against a very potent offense that had firebombed in the last two meetings. But this offense? I almost think the commissioner should step in and expel the entire offensive coaching staff from the NFL, just to save us from having to watch the bumbling, confused nonsense that we saw in this game. In truth, though, this game didn't have much impact on my emotions towards the team right now. They're pretty much at rock-bottom, and now it's just waiting to see whether Steven Ross gives Flores the rest of the year to see if he can salvage anything from this group. As I write this, the team hasn't traded for DeShaun Watson, which I think would be a horrible move. So maybe Ross hasn't lost all of his marbles. Most of them, yes, but not all of them.

Preview of Games 41:

Joe Philbin's 2014 club, riding high from the blowout win over the Chargers, would take their 4-4 record up to Detroit, where they would face a rare thing - a Lions team that was actually good. In 2018, Adam Gase's group would return to South Beach and face another sad Jets team. As for this year, next up is the Houston Texans - a team arguably as pathetic as our Dolphins, as evidenced by their twin record of 1-7. Should be one for the ages, alright.

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.