Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. Your Miami Dolphins: always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
Of course, in this instance, the wedding is a game against a stalwart opponent and being the bride is, you know, winning.
Let’s lederhosen and bratwurst or whatever.
Dolphins at full strength don’t quite flex
Let’s get this out of the way right away: the Dolphins’ games against ‘contender’ teams have been moving in the right direction. The losses to BUF, PHI, and KC were by margins of 28, 14, and 7 respectively. That’s a sign of positive progress.
Whether we fans are jumping the shark or not, the expectations this season are leaning more toward Superbowl than super disappointing. And expectations that high mean that close enough isn’t good enough.
Miami returned its entire secondary in at least some capacity with Jevon Holland, Xavien Howard, and Nik Needham all seeing the field. Jeff Wilson got reps at running back and Terron Armstead returned to man the left tackle spot.
While the personnel was present, problems persisted with penalties, protections, and playcalling.
Tua had a few uncharacteristically innacurate throws, Tyreek Hill had a couple of uncharacteristic drops, and the offense as a whole was uncharacteristically sluggish. I guess we’ll have to put our heads together on how many times a thing has to happen for it to become a characteristic. Maybe we can use the Bye week to suss it out.
Games against tough teams often come down to a few plays over the course of the whole contest. Hill’s fumble returned by KC for a defensive touchdown is one such play. As is the final embarassment of dropping the snap on a game-defining fourth down. Right out of the gate, the Fins put themselves behind the proverbial acht ball going down 21 points and spent the rest of the game trying to claw back with one hand, while using the other to cut themselves off at the knees.
The team was outcoached, outmatched, and outplayed. Yet, they still kept within a score of the reigning champs despite all of their self sabotage.
They know they’re close. We fans know they’re close. But you know what they say about being close: it makes an ass out of you and me.
Trending defense keeps trending up
One bright spot on Sunday was Vic Fangio’s finally feeling froggy defense.
They held State Farm spokesman and sometimes quarterback Patrick Mahomes to 185 yards passing, which, for you number crunchers out there, is not good. Jaelan Phillips (and friends) kept Mahomes’ scrambling in check, helping to limit him to 24 yards on the ground.
That same defense kept the Kansas City running game under 100 yards (93) and only surrendered 14 points, including shutting the Swifts out in the second half.
Miami managed to implement the exact defensive scheme it seemed all of Findom was calling for in locking down Travis Kelce to the tune of 3 catches for 14 yards and forcing KC to use the rest of their offense, which they did poorly.
In short: the defense did a hell of a job.
It’s a great sign for the rest of the season. It proves that, when healthy, the Dolphins’ D can bring the noise.
I hope Miami gets to see the Chiefs in the playoffs again. And I hope Mahomes is healed from the torn rotator cuff I’m sure he suffered while begging for all of those flags.
Speaking of complaining:
Miami’s offense got too cute
Hey coach McD, it’s me. Guy from the internet. Resident typer. I know you don’t plague the comments section and tell me how to do my job, but allow me to tell you how to do yours.
You have some of the best (if not the absolute best) weapons in the NFL available to catch passes. Not every play needs to be The Ol’ Slapdash Whoosharoony 28 Ska-Doodly Doo. I know KC’s defense is good. But your receivers are better. Your quarterback can throw into tight windows. Your run game is allowed to maintain momentum when it gathers it. Don’t overthink it. I’m pretty sure the last guy who did that here now spends Sundays bolstering his skin suit collection.
When your team has wailed and gnashed its teeth to get back within shouting distance of a tie game, you can’t toss back 6 yards to your third string running back. That’s a silly thing to do. That’s something a guy whose apartment smells suspiciously like enemy stew would do. When your first string running back rips off a 25 yard run, immediately followed by a 19 yard run on what’s guaranteed to be your team’s final drive, you don’t pass four times in a row. That’s what a guy with a freshly paved crawl space would do.
I know that the players have to execute. The quarterback and his receivers need to be on the same page. By the way, not everything has to be a timing route. Other teams have picked up on that. Maybe let Tua scan the field sometimes on the off chance he notices someone wide open for a score. Cause they were out there. And he should really throw it to them.
I know the players need to not fumble for a defensive touchdown and not misdiagnose protections and probably snap the ball a little better and maybe even catch the snap. I know that and I know you know that too.
I know you also know that, at the end of the day, it all falls on you. Heavy heads, crowns, etc. It’s your team, it’s your preparation, it’s your playcalling, and it’s your culture. You’ll say as much in your pressers and I know you’ll mean it.
I also know you’ll do your best to correct it. If you don’t, they might send the other guy after you.
Hard Knocks will provide a spark or a distraction
I’m cautiously optimistic about the chance to see inside of coach McDaniel’s universe, which we’ll all get to do with this season’s in-season Hard Knocks. Details are scant so far (or my lazy Googling is weak, which is a very distinct possibility), but we know that the Fins will be the focus.
There are some big personalities in the locker room and a second year head coach trying to corral them amidst the narrative that they can’t beat good teams. That aspect has been talked to death, so I’ll simply say that such shenanigans can send a spark through the team, causing them to coalesce around themselves to shut out the extraneous noise or it could provide a platform for them to undermine their coaching staff and pivot the attention to all the wrong places.
I for one hope it’s an informative glimpse into the inner working of my favorite team under the tutelage of an up-and-coming coach with great promise.
I fear it could be something less valuable.
A week off will do everyone some good
The Dolphins have a Week 10 Bye. That will afford some of the players who are still nicked up a chance to get fully healthy, some of the players who are still waiting to return another week to get closer, and us fans a week to snap at our husbands and wives for eating too loudly because we don’t have football to take out our impotent rage on.
So I guess good for most people anyway.
Miami returns in Week 11 to face the Oakland Raiders at home in what should hopefully be another monster blowout so everyone can dismiss it because the Raiders are trash.
Any cool plans for the Bye week? Any belief left in the Dolphins? Any idea how long Adam Gase has been standing behind me? Help me in the comments below.