After playing relatively well in the team's first two games of the season, the Dolphins lost. However, despite that, there was real hope that head coach Adam Gase had the offense, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill in particular, playing better. There was a real sense of improvement.
Who would have known that after the team's first victory, all of that would be erased. Once again, the offense failed to string together a consistent effort, while the defense yet again had trouble containing a team's second (or third) option at quarterback.
And head coach Adam Gase was clearly irritated—perhaps more irritated than the team's efforts in the Dolphins' first two games. Had it not been for three missed field goals, by the kicker (signed by the Browns literally hours before Sunday's game), the team would be 0-3 and in dire straights.
To make matters worse, the Dolphins will have a short week to prepare as they face the Cincinnati Bengals this Thursday.
Despite Gase's first win as a head football coach, he was in no mood to celebrate. When asked about it Gase's response reflected his mood: "It’s just another game.”
Gase was equally cryptic when asked about the team's poor performance in general and what possible solutions there may be: “Yes. But I don’t have a great answer for you right now until I go back and take a look at the film, which I’ll probably have to do tonight. I’ll get to correcting the mistakes that we’re making and adjusting to get ready for Cincinnati.”
The truth, though the head coach will never admit it, is poor roster construction, the result of years of bad drafts, regime and coaching changes and no clear direction for the once-proud franchise.
There were bright spots—and some of them came from the team's younger players. Jarvis Landry, Kenyan Drake and Devante Parker on offense, with Xavien Howard doing a solid job on defense. Second year running back Jay Ajayi redeemed himself, running for the winning score in overtime.
Ryan Tannehill, in typical fashion, had his usual up and down performance. The fifth year quarterback does just enough good to give loyalists hope and just enough bad to frustrate the rest. All of this adds up to—you guessed it, an average player. Patience is in short supply for the much-maligned signal caller.
However, plenty of blame can go around for the offense's inconsistent effort—no consistent running game, poor run blocking and allowing pressures/sacks at the times when protection is needed the most. Case in point; the second of Tannehill's two interceptions came after pressure allowed a Browns defender to hit Tannehill's arm as he was releasing the ball.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter, when on a critical late drive, Ja'Wuan James allowed a sack, causing a fumble which the Browns recovered. When the Dolphins went back out on offense, James was benched in favor of Billy Turner.
Give Tannehill credit—he takes blame for his mistakes. And he never throws the rest of the team under the bus for theirs.
When asked about the team's offensive performance, Tannehill stressed that things need to get better—and in a hurry: "We left a lot of plays on the field, just with poor execution, and we have to get that cleaned up, immediately. We’re three games in now and we’re too far in to be having the kinds of mistakes that we’re having. We have to be cleaner, we have to be better and we have to be better right now. "
I believe Gase is the right man for the job-but it is clear this roster is at least a draft or two away from producing a playoff-caliber team.
In other words, get ready. Because things might get much worse before they get better.
This story was written by Richard Wilt. Follow him on Twitter: @richardactor71
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