The Miami Dolphins have a next man up mentality, they talk about it all the time, they talked about it more after the loss to the Lions that saw several players go down for either multiple plays or the rest of the game entirely.
"It's football, injuries happen," said Dolphins (and former Lions) defensive tackle Akeem Spence. "It's next man up mentality, and we've been that all throughout this season, we got games where you had two guys go out on the defensive line, guys picked it up, so I mean we gotta continue to step up, continue to make plays, and guys just gotta keep believing, believing in each other, and keep belieiving in this team. It's one loss, we got a game come Thursday night, and we need everybody. Everybody needs to get healthy, do what they need to do, come Thursday night and find a way to get a 'W'."
But that's just it, as much as they would like to talk about next man up, there comes a point where the level of injuries starts becoming a mountain that can't be overcome. Consider this:
The Dolphins traded for center Daniel Kilgore and signed Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton to shore up the interior of the offensive line and protect Ryan Tannehill. Sitton lasted one game, and Ted Larsen took over. Kilgore went down weeks later, and Travis Swanson was picked up off the street. Then Miami signed former Jets interior OL Wesley Johnson just in case, and he wound up playing on both sides during the Lions game, spelling Larsen and Jesse Davis who both missed snaps with injuries.
Then there's Albert Wilson, who left the game with a bad hip injury, and then there's Mike Gesicki, who was evaluated for a concussion, and then there's Kenny Stills, who hopped off the field after taking a bad hit on a deep pass late in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Tannehill, William Hayes, DeVante Parker, A.J. Derby, even Jerome Baker and Frank Gore missed a few snaps against the Lions.
Is the team really just that cursed?
For what it's worth, the team not only used the next man up mentality to discuss that players needed to step up, but also to say that there were truly no excuses for the performance they put out at home against a team that actually improved to 3-3 with the win on Sunday.
"They were just taking the plays we were giving them," said Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain, who himself just returned from injury. "A veteran quarterback like that (Stafford), they're gonna take what you give them. If you give them 2nd and 5, they'll take it, you give them 3rd and 1, they'll take it. At the end of the day, we know we gotta play better in the back end and up front. As a defense we gotta play better, as a team we gotta play better, we didn't do enough."
Miami's defense, which had been viewed as the strength of the team for the past few weeks, gave up a total of 248 rushing yards to the Lions, with rookie phenom Kerryon Johnson accounting for 158 of those yards.
The Dolphins offense racked up a grand total of 322 yards.
At some point we have to raise an eyebrow, at some point we have to wonder why players are so prone to getting injured in Miami. Is it strength and conditioning? Is it the heat and humidity? Is it because of the stadium is built on an Indian burial ground?
Either way, the team needs to find a solution and fast, before there's no players left to play. Now the Dolphins will have a short week as they head up to play a hot Houston Texans team that's won four straight games, and they better have some healthy bodies who can carry the workload if they don't want to fall too far behind the season.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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