If there was one sure thing going into Monday Night Football it was that the Miami Dolphins would lose. Third straight week of primetime football, third straight week getting wrecked. 40-0 to Baltimore on Thursday Night, followed by 27-24 to Oakland on Sunday Night, and sure enough, 45-21 on Monday Night. The Triple Crown of boring, uninspired football.
And that’s the thing. It’s not that they aren’t good. It’s that they’re boring. And that’s worse than being bad, especially when the entire country has to suffer through it for three straight weeks. If you want to be a bad team, that’s fine. You can do that on your own time. On a regionally broadcast game. But don’t come on national television and put the country to sleep. Especially not three weeks in a row, but that’s exactly what Miami has done.
And the lamest thing ever would be to come in here, crack open a mic, and lay it all on Jay Cutler. That’s a paint-by-numbers show. You can do that in your sleep. Ha, Jay Cutler, so disinterested! Hilarious! Except it sure looks like Cutler wasn’t the only disinterested guy. The whole Dolphins defense didn’t really seem to be interested in making a tackle, knocking down a pass, or forcing a punt. Or really being on the field at all. It almost made me wish for the days when Kiko Alonso was decapitating Joe Flacco and Ndamukong Suh was trying to strangle Ryan Mallett, because at least that was something. Last night was a flat-liner.
That’s not to say Cutler was great. He wasn’t. Especially when the Dolphins defense actually made a play and forced a punt with 54 seconds left in the first half. Miami was down 10-7 at that point, but maybe they get into the locker room within three, make a few adjustments, and keep it interesting. That would’ve been nice. But that’s not what happened. This happened instead.
And seconds later, Cam Newton hit Ed Dickson for a 7-yard touchdown and it was 17-7 and that was the ballgame.
But as bad as that sequence was, and it was bad, Cutler doesn’t get all the blame. After all, he’s not putting a hand in the dirt on the d-line. Check out these defensive stats from the Phins: 548 yards allowed. Their top-10 rush defense gave up 294 rushing yards. Carolina scored a touchdown on every possession in the second half, until they decided to kneel down to end the game.
And it’s not like Carolina was scheming like crazy to get those yards. They weren’t. They were just lining up and running a lot of zone read. You know, the play that everyone else from high school on up runs. And it was working.
Like when Cam broke a 69-yard run. It looked like a father playing with a bunch of kids and then slowing up so they could bring him down.
And afterwards, Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake wasn’t happy with the performance: “This isn’t acceptable. It’s unacceptable.”
Neither was safety TJ McDonald: “That’s terrible. You can’t play defense like that. That’s on us. That’s not the type of team we are.”
Actually, it kind of is. When you give up 40 or more in two of three games, and get outscored 112-45 in a three game stretch, that’s kind of the team that you are.
Just don’t tell that to Mike Pouncey: “We’re good. You’ve just got to regroup. We still control our own destiny. It’s just we’ve got to win these kinds of football games. It’s the second half of the season and we can’t lose these kind of games. We just put ourselves in a deeper hole, but we’re going to keep working hard and we’re going to get us a win next week.”
Respect for the optimism. And you might get a win next week because you’re playing Tampa, who is even more of a mess than you, but let’s not confuse that with being good. This isn’t a good Dolphins team.
The good news is that while Miami isn’t very good right now, neither is anyone else in the AFC, so you don’t have to be good to reach the playoffs. Which means that we might get to see even more of this snooze fest on TV in the coming weeks. But don’t get it twisted, right now, the Dolphins, are boring, unwatchable, and not at all good. Look in the mirror.