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Five Things I Think I Think About the Miami Dolphins - Week 18

lachrymose (adj) - given to expressing strong emotion (as sorrow) by readily shedding tears

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images

I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you.

And I think to myself: wake up, idiot!

The world isn’t wonderful; it’s a veritable hellscape crawling with famine, pestilence, and the Buffalo Bills.

Gross.

Warning: This one’s long, so be prepared. Or just scroll straight to the comments and start screaming, IDGAF.

I hate Josh Allen

And it’s barely his fault.

Truly.

I obviously don’t know him personally. I spend my free time with Coach McDaniel at Lenscrafters making sure we always have the tightest drip on our frames, fam.

But on the field?

This happened when Brett Favre was in his heyday. Someone at NFL headquarters decided they needed to push a few new Faces of the Franchise (TM) for the league and Favre was his generation’s Hulkster. The announcers could barely contain themselves any time he did something absolutely mundane. It was Christmas in July. And October. And November. And so on.

Now, that burden of overzealousness has been thrust onto Josh Allen (among others throughout the league, but being in the AFC East, he’s visible more often).

Chris Collinsworth was a joke. The broadcast might as well have been from his cushy vacation villa in Orchard Park he was so entranced by Buffalo. Even before the game shifted in the Bills’ favor, it was as if the Dolphins weren’t playing. It was Josh Allen versus an unnamed villain, like Rambo mowing down hundreds of faceless foot soldiers.

Allen threw a pass to Stefon Diggs deep downfield where Diggs made a great catch against Miami’s worst corner (more on that later). Collinsworth was stupefied. He’d never seen anything like it. A good throw against an obvious mismatch? Only the Allfather himself could achieve something so miraculous.

Except for when Tua did the exact same thing in the same game. Dane Jackson was thrust into a boundary coverage role due to an injury to Rasul Douglas, so Tua hooked up with Tyreek Hill by making a good throw against an obvious mismatch.

Silence.

Here’s the worst part. Usually I hate Allen because he’s a whiny brat who spends the whole game crying for penalties. And you know what? HE DIDN’T DO THAT AT ALL. He was totally fine. Not a single complaint about him. Yet, the announcers couldn’t just do their jobs and now I’m mad at him wholly undeservedly. Sorry, Josh.

People will say ‘If Tua was as good as Allen, they’d talk about him more’. I don’t need anyone to worship Tua. I don’t even know what I think about Tua, for that matter. I need professional broadcasters to at least put up the charade of being unbiased so I can watch a game without shooting holes through my speakers with a rocket launcher.

Miami can’t (or won’t) tackle

The Fins’ defense gave up lots of yards (483 total), but not that many points (14). They also forced three turnovers from Collinsworth’s close personal friend Josh, much to Chris’s chagrin.

The Fins’ offense didn’t capitalize on that, mind you, but who’s counting?

Special Teams gave up a 96 yard punt return touchdown to account for the Bills’ other 7 points.

On so many defensive plays and (clearly) the punt return TD, tackling was an issue.

If Allen escaped the pocket, at least one lineman and one linebacker in each instance would have a clean shot at him, only to glance off and fail to do anything of value.

Short pass? Missed tackle. Run up the gut? Missed tackle. Free rush at the QB? Missed tackle.

I can’t decide if it’s a symptom of the cadre of rule changes over the last few years that have been implemented in the interest of ‘player safety’, poor fundamentals, lack of talent, or some combination of all three, but it’s painful to watch.

On one particular snap, Jerome Baker came through the middle on a blitz completely untouched, on a direct beeline to Allen. Instead of a clean, hard tackle for a sack, he aimed toward the side as Allen tossed a little shoulder shimmy his way and the play went on.

I’m not a traditionalist on many things in life, but the more I watch plays like that, the more I yearn for the days when a James Harrison type would be in that same position and make the other team pay for the mistake. Nothing illegal. Nothing dangerous. Nothing but a solid, direct tackle at the bulk of the QB’s body. But an almost guaranteed sack nonetheless.

Whatever the underlying cause, it makes for bad football, bad TV, and a bad outcome for the Dolphins.

Cornerback depth is a problem

I foreshadowed this above, because of my incomparable literary prowess and 11th grade English class education: Eli Apple is not a good corner.

I realize he came from a blue chip college program, was drafted 10th overall, and has been in the league 8 years. None of that makes him a proper choice to man the boundary for Miami.

Injuries happen. Evidently, they happen in Miami a lot. Regardless, someone has to fill in when the guy in front goes down and Apple sure doesn’t.

Watching the game I said that Buffalo would target Apple and Duke Riley in the passing game every chance they got and boy did they prove me right. Riley made it out relatively unscathed, but Apple was on screen for practically every big Bills gain.

He gave up a deep pass to Diggs by failing to look for the ball, gave up a touchdown by failing to look for the ball, and nearly gave up a game ending first down by failing to swat at the ball, instead opting to show the officials where he felt the spot should be.

I don’t know what his Awareness rating is in Madden, but I suspect it’s too high.

“He did have an interception!” you yell, sporting your patchwork Giants, Saints, Panthers, Bengals, and Dolphins Apple jersey.

He did. One that he caught in the end zone and then proceeded to Flintstone his way to the 3 yard line with instead of just staying put for a touchback.

It might seem like I’m being harsh, but I bet the coaching staff will be saying much of the same when they review the tape together. Sorry, Eli.

I don’t know what last second magic Miami’s front office can work as far as an influx of talent in a seven day window. Maybe Cam Smith could try playing. He was drafted for that, I’m pretty sure [citation needed]. Either way, the corner position needs some help and fast.

Not to mention linebacker depth, which might be in even more trouble. Jaelen Phillips, Bradley Chubb, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Cameron Goode are all out. For those of you playing at home, that’s every OLB the Fins had to start the year not named Emmanuel Ogbah.

I honestly don’t know what you do if you’re Miami on this one. Playing down personnel and shifting the game plan to account likely leaves Mahomes and MaAuto free to roam all day. Bringing guys off their couches to backfill probably ends up the same.

I wish I could be more helpful.

Good luck Vic!

Wide receiver depth is a problem

Monday night’s game taught me that depth isn’t only an issue on the defensive side. With Jaylen Waddle out, Cedrick Wilson assumed the WR2 role with a smattering of River Cracrafts, Chase Claypools, and Braxton Berrii (look it up) to fill out the rest.

What I learned with such a setup is that Miami’s WR depth is lacking.

Case in point: the final drive.

Miami had 1:43 to drive down and tie the game (Side Note: a tie would have been the greatest. #2 seed and facing PIT? Gimme that all day).

They started with completions of 7 and 6 yards, followed by a defensive penalty leading into an incomplete pass toward Tyreek ‘Our only weapon, I guess’ Hill.

2nd and 10 from the Buffalo 40 yard line with 1:17 is pretty doable.

Tua dropped back and quickly threw a deep out toward Dolphins stalwart and future Ring of Honor member Chase Claypool.

That’s right, Chase Claypool.

Chase Claypool has 4 receptions for 7 yards as a Dolphin.

With the game and the #2 seed on the line, either Mike McDaniel, Tua, or a braintrust of the two thought they should throw a trademark timing route to a player with 4 catches in 9 games.

That’s how you lose.

This offense is explosive, but it’s one dimensional. Not in the typical way, i.e. they only pass or they only run, but in a new, kind of dumber way. They run so many precise timing routes that rely on quick releases from the receivers on the line, first or second read play designs, and Tua throwing to a spot, sometimes seemingly blindly trusting his targets.

When it works, it’s killer.

When it fails, it’s abysmal.

The team is built for speed, but the receiving corps lacks a big bodied target who can fight for contested catches. You know who was pretty good at that? DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Regardless of their post-Dolphins life, a player like them would do this team a world of good.

Having a different gear to shift into is essential for an offense to be dominant against different types of opponents and/or to overcome significant injuries.

Unfortunately, Miami is learning that the hard (Knocks?) way.

The Fins can still beat the Chiefs

That enough doom and gloom for ya?

Cause here’s the deal. In spite of that Classic Dolphins’ Moment we just witnessed, I actually think Miami can still beat the Chiefs.

The two teams met once already this year with Miami dropping the contest to the tune of 14-21 in Week 9 of the regular season.

It was a decent, close game.

Yes, Miami is down a lot more players than way back then. And yes, the Chiefs are the reigning champs. They are, however, not as good as they were a year ago. And the Fins have proven they are capable.

In fact, this team more than any other Dolphins team I’ve been alive to see has genuine, actual ability and real potential. Not the kind of potential where they look great on paper coming into the season and then play like giraffes on rollerskates. Not the kind of potential where if only they had like 8-12 more solid players, they’d possibly make the playoffs. Not the kind of potential where a new regime comes in promising the world, overhauling the roster, and blowing things up to light the dawn of a new day, only to barely compete with the league’s most middling.

This time, they have real talent at every position group. Injuries are a huge impediment, no doubt. They might prove to be too much to overcome.

But for the first time in forever, Miami has shown they can actually play elite football.

Now they have five days to remember how.

Think the Fins can beat the odds? How about beat the Chiefs? An egg? Cry yourself to sleep in the comments below.