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3 Reasons Why: Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans - Week 17 - 2021

In this weekly column, I’ll outline 3 reasons why the Dolphins won or lost their previous game, and provide a short preview for next week’s game.

Miami Dolphins v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Game Summary:

Silly me, I actually thought this year would be different. Season on the line, and the Dolphins fall flat. Again. After a crushing 3-34 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Dolphins are now officially out of contention for the NFL Playoffs. With one week left in the 2021 NFL regular season, Miami’s season is already over.

Here are 3 reasons why Miami lost to Tennessee:

Reason 1: Didn’t Finish Drives

Miami entered past Tennessee’s 30-yard line four times on Sunday, but ended the game with 0 touchdowns. Need I say more?

The Dolphins ended the game 0/3 on 4th-down, giving the ball back to Tennessee on too many occasions. Also, kicker Jason Sanders missed two crucial field goals, both of which would’ve ended those drives on a positive note.

Miami’s offense has been a problem all season, but Sunday was one of the worst offensive performances I’ve seen in years. If you don’t finish drives, you won’t win games. Ultimately, Miami left too many points on the field, and it cost them.

Reason 2: Played Sloppy Football

Dropped catches, underthrown passes, missed field-goals, and everything else under the sun. Any possible mistake Miami could’ve made on Sunday, they made. It was sloppy football from top to bottom, and it’s a massive reason as to why Miami lost so badly.

Tua had one of his worst games as an NFL quarterback, losing the ball on 4 separate occasions and completing a horrendous 47.1% of his passes. Tagovailoa finished the game with a passer rating of 53.0, his lowest of the season. I’m a fan of Tua, but in Miami’s biggest game of the season, he didn’t show up when we needed him most.

The Dolphins also dropped 9 passes as a team, the most they’ve dropped in a single game all season. Jaylen Waddle looked completely shut down for the majority of the game, and DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki didn’t fare much better.

I don’t know if I can say much more because it really was just that simple. The Dolphins were sloppy, and Tennessee took advantage.

Reason 3: Poor In-Game Adjustment

Coming into the game, it was obvious to anyone that the weather and field conditions were far from ideal, and that both teams would have to adjust their game plans accordingly. Nissan Stadium had just hosted Music City Bowl on Saturday, and multiple portions of the field had to be re-sodded before Sunday afternoon. Add to that the cold, pouring rain, and it should’ve been obvious that serious adjustments would have to be made.

Offensively, Mike Vrabel and the Titans put together a run-heavy game plan to avoid the wet conditions and poor field. Keep the game on the ground, and you’ll be able to circumvent a lot of the problems that arise with poor playing conditions. However, while Tennessee adjusted to these conditions exceptionally, Miami didn’t.

Instead, Miami decided to throw the ball 40 times through the air, all while Duke Johnson was averaging 7 yards per carry on the ground. Yes, I know we went down early, and I know we desperately needed points. But you can’t abandon the run-game that quickly, and especially not under awful field conditions. Ultimately, it’s poor in-game adjustment from Brian Flores and his coaching staff, and they deserve some blame here.

Game Preview:

The Dolphins host the New England Patriots next week in Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season. Bill Belichick and the Patriots are coming off a 50-10 thrashing over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17, which confirmed their spot in the AFC playoffs. Unfortunately, that means Miami won’t get the chance to spoil New England’s season.

However, a win would take Miami to 9-8, and mark the first time the Dolphins have finished with back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003 (the year I was born, funnily enough). Hey, at least we’ve got something to play for, right? Right?