It took me a lot longer to get over the Dolphins 23-20 loss to the Jaguars than it normally does for Miami losses. In fact, I am still not over it. I am seething. Through two games the Dolphins are not only failing to live up to their potential, they look like a poor football team. So many things to talk about when it comes to the state of the Dolphins right now, it is hard to know where to begin. The next two weeks may prove to be season defining, as division rivals Bills come to town before the team takes a trip to England to face the undefeated Jets. Win both; all is forgiven, split the games; stay afloat, lose both; hell will break loose in Dolphin-land.
Coaching is Important
I have never wanted to be more wrong about anything than how I feel about the skills of Joe Philbin as a coach (and by extension his staff). In week 10 of 2013, coming out of the Bully-gate scandal and off of a huge win on Halloween over the Bengals, the Dolphins lost to the WINLESS Tampa Bay Bucs on national prime time television. It was an embarrassment and it divided the locker room. That was the first time I questioned Joe Philbin as the Dolphins head coach. Following the 2013 season (The team finished 8-8 ), I was a proponent of cleaning house of Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin and letting a GM come in and hire his own staff. That didn't happen. Many Dolphin fans liked the consistency of keeping Joe Philbin another season, preaching patience. Last season again the Dolphins missed the playoffs, finishing 8-8 and AGAIN the Dolphins stayed loyal to Joe Philbin, choosing to instead focus on improving the roster.
All this isn't to say I want Joe Philbin to be fired today. Far from it. But the way this year has begun has shown that his ability as a coach is limited and his command over this team is poor at best. I have been hoping, so much so, that the start of this year would vindicate Joe. That with all the improvements that were made by Mike Tannenbaum and Dennis Hickey, Joe would come into his own and thrive, finally leading this team to the playoffs. Through two games it doesn't seem like that is about to happen.
Look at the importance of coaching. The Jets under (former Dolphins assistant Head Coach) Todd Bowles look remarkable. They are a tough, professional, disciplined and quiet football team. The Bills with Rex Ryan are brash and tough and make the opposition question themselves, in many ways they are a reflection of Ryan himself. I won't even bring up Bill Belichick, that isn't fair. The point is, right now, the Dolphins lack any semblance of an identity and in both games they have played so far this year the game plans have been impossible to identify. The team (as it has since Philbin took over) starts incredibly slow week in and week out... Sadly, that is the most consistent thing about them.
Make no mistake about it, Joe Philbin is on the hot seat. He knows that. Steve Ross all but said it at the end of last season, but what Dolphins fan looks at this team and wants Joe Philbin to get fired? If he gets fired it would mean the team, again, has failed. It would mean that despite having so many great pieces in place they were unable to become a winner. I'd so much rather be wrong about Joe Philbin and have him win, than be right and settle, yet again, for mediocrity.
Still, it isn't yet time to hit the panic button. Now is the time to move on and prepare for next week. This Dolphins team should be more motivated than ever to go out there and deliver a win. If the Dolphins can beat the Bills and Jets all will be forgiven and the team can continue with their easy first half schedule, if not.... then panic.
Ryan Timothy Tannehill
Let's just mention something positive for a second. Despite the offensive lines best effort in trying to kill Tannehill this week, Ryan Tannehill looked so sharp. Not only did he complet over 68% of his passes, he hit men downfield, had over 350 passing yards and connected on 2 TD passes. I really think Tannehill is poised for big things and while it wasn't enough to win last week, in the future he may prove to be what gets this team over the hump.
Still off Balance
Speaking of how good Tannehill is, could you imagine how much better he would be on a team like Dallas or Green Bay or hell even the Jets! Tannehill, so far this season has 78 pass attempts (44 attempts against the Jags) the Dolphins as a team through 2 games have just 34 total rushing attempts and, against the Jaguars, only 13 running plays by someone not named Ryan Tannehill were called. When you also factor in that Tannehill was pressured on an incredible 44.7% of his pass attempts on Sunday his performance becomes even more incredible. Bill Lazor needs to implement more balance on offence to better the offensive output of the team.
I could go on about Sundays loss ad infinitum, but I will stop here. Last week I went 2-1 in predictions let down by the Bills. Let me know who I should pick this week on TWITTER. Also, try not to panic Dolphin's Fans.