The Miami Dolphins ended the season on an incredibly ugly and lackluster note by losing to the New York Jets by a score of 37-24, making a strong case that Rex Ryan should be allowed to remain the head coach for the Jets, and making a stronger case that Joe Philbin staying on as the head coach for the team is a very bad idea.
Once the fourth quarter came around, the team looked like it had given up. Tannehill was a dead duck in the pocket on every play and one of the NFL's highest paid receivers in Mike Wallace was unceremoniously benched for reasons only the coaching staff knows, although reports are he argued with a coach, and then he refused to talk to the media, having Brandon Gibson stand next to him and answer questions as if he were Wallace. Not pretty.
On top of that, the defense allowed Jets QB Geno Smith to look like a Hall of Fame QB. It was a humiliating sight. Now with the final game of the season in the books, it's time to take a look at what we can take away from this final performance from the Miami Dolphins squad.
Ryan Tannehill is the QB of the future
It may seem like a bad time to say something like this, but it really does bear repeating. When the whole team actually looked like they were trying and they were able to protect him, Tannehill looked like a really good QB. He fired one strong dart to tight end Charles Clay that was an easy touchdown, but it was because Tannehill was given time to let the play develop.
Tannehill's stat line isn't impressive. He went 23 of 39 for 259 yards and a touchdown to Clay. But the most telling thing of all was the fact that he got sacked seven times, the final sack ending in a fumble that gave the Jets the ball back and guaranteed victory for them. Seven times. Think about this, in the past two seasons alone, Tannehill has been sacked over 100 times, and this season he still managed to reach 4,000 yards passing. The last time a Dolphins quarterback pulled that off was 1994. That's right. Tannehill is the only one to throw for 4,000 yards a season as a Dolphin besides Marino himself. That's insane.
Priority number one for the Miami Dolphins next season is to bolster the offensive line, no excuses. Tannehill hasn't had a good offensive line in all three years of his career, and he's been able to develop and improve despite all of that. How people can look at Tannehill and insist he isn't the answer is beyond me.
Lamar Miller is a very good running back
When the season started, everyone was excited about Knowshon Moreno coming in and pounding the rock against the New England Patriots when Lamar Miller couldn't pull it off. Then Moreno went down, and something clicked in Miller's mind. He suddenly started running hard, he was making plays and doing things we always saw flashes of but never saw any consistency about.
This season, Miller eclipsed the coveted 1,000 yard mark on a team record breaking 97 yard run that went for a touchdown, showcasing his speed as he burned the entire Jets defense, only getting brought down after a touchdown was a guaranteed thing.
Is it a good idea to find a complimentary power back to spell Miller? Absolutely. Frank Gore would be a good option as he's stated he wouldn't mind finishing his career in Miami if the 49ers don't want him. But Miller has proven that even with the offensive line woes, he can be a very good running back in the NFL, and the Dolphins aren't nearly as needy at the position as many are making them out to be.
The defense needs an overhaul
A defense that went from a top five squad in the league inexplicably became one of the worst in the league in the span of just one week. It literally went from elite to mediocre so quickly that fans have no clue what happened to cause the defense to have such a dramatic fall off.
First it was just the run defense, then the secondary disappeared, and it all culminated into a final disgusting display that allowed Geno Smith, arguably the worst quarterback in the NFL, to go 20 for 25 with 358 yards and 3 touchdowns...those are numbers you only see in Madden games.
The defense barely ever got any pressure on Smith, and Finnegan got burned by Eric Decker of all people more than once, which resulted in his benching. Special teams also allowed a man named Chris Owusu to nearly get a kick return touchdown, and he would've made it if it had not have been for cornerback RJ Stanford.
The D-line was bad, the secondary was terrible, and the defense as a whole choked and allowed the New York Jets to look like an All-Pro team. Whether it means firing defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle or just redoing the whole defense, something must be done if this team expects to succeed next season.
The team now has a lot to prove next season
There really isn't much that can be said at this point. The Dolphins season ended on a pathetic note that is painful to even talk about. Owner Stephen Ross came out last week and publicly confirmed that Joe Philbin would return to be the head coach for the Dolphins in 2015 after the team's dramatic win against the Minnesota Vikings, and now Ross looks bad for doing so since the team collapsed.
I have said many times that Philbin is not a leader of men, and that was put on display yet again in this game. Now the Dolphins, at 8-8 for the second consecutive year, finishes in third place in the AFC East after the Buffalo Bills pulled off an upset victory against the New England Patriots and finished 9-7 with Kyle Orton as their QB. The team now has a better draft pick, and they better make it count, there's a lot to be done if the Dolphins want to compete next year.
This column was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater