Stick a fork in them. These fish are fried. The Dolphins started the season off at 4-2 with the help of a miracle or two. After watching them the past few weeks, it would take a more than a few miracles for them to finish the season at 4-2.
Miami was embarrassed yet again, this time by the Carolina Panthers. They helped make the Panthers look like their powerful 2015 team by playing horrendous on the defensive side of the ball. Miami’s defense had been the strength of this ball club over the first two months of the season as the offense ranks dead last in virtually every offensive category. But, in this game, it was a total team effort or lack thereof to distinguish the difference between a competitive football team and a lousy one.
I’ve learned from watching Miami on defense the last few weeks: If you put them away, they will quit. The Jay Cutler INT at the end of the second quarter seemed to annoy the Dolphins’ defense. It was Miami’s execution and the outstanding play of Luke Kuechly that put Carolina on the short field.This was just after Miami had cut Carolina’s lead to 10-7 and forced a punt late in the first half. The Panthers took advantage of the short field with a demoralizing touchdown. Ed Dickson made an excellent catch and it was 17-7, Panthers.
Miami’s defensive effort in the second half was appalling. Several plays by Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and Devin Funchess were successful without a Miami defender even TOUCHING the Panther. Carolina scored 28 second half points with such ease, you would have thought they were playing the Miami Hurricanes. Then again, the ‘Canes are playing a much higher level than the ‘Fins so who knows!
Miami struggled on offense again. They are very bad on first and second down, constantly putting their QB in third and longs. Quarterback Jay Cutler occasionally hit his receivers to convert those. But, for the most, the veteran was inaccurate.
It was theme of the weekend in the AFC East. I picked the Jets, Bills and Dolphins to win. And, I was completely wrong. All three teams got extremely poor play from their quarterback. And, only the Jets of the three teams avoided a complete team debacle as they competed hard on defense for Todd Bowles. Right now, the Bills are 5-4 and in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s final playoff spot. The Dolphins are 4-5 and the Jets are 4-6, but it is pretty evident that New York is the better of the two ball clubs. This, of course, means, New England still owns this division and they finish by playing their divisional foes in five of their final 6 games.
Incredibly, therefore, New England is likely to play in their eight consecutive conference championship game. Tom Brady is great and all that, but the Patriots can thank the absolute ineptitude of the rest of the division. And that starts with Miami.
The Dolphins finished 10-6 last season under Adam Gase. They had a good draft and weapons at receiver and running back. But, Ryan Tannehill’s ACL injury in preseason scaled back the expectations. When they signed veteran Jay Cutler and got off to the 4-2 start in a very weak conference, there was cautious optimism for Dolphins’ followers. However, since a Thursday night thrashing at Baltimore, the wheels have come off.
And, thanks to their three consecutive prime time appearances, we all got to witness their demise. Thus, I am pronouncing this season’s edition of the Miami Dolphins cooked.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_bills