No excuses. The Miami Dolphins had been as wholesome as ever after shedding 26:20 to Inexperienced Bay on Sunday, they usually have gained 11 of their earlier 12 dwelling video games. Positive, they had been on a three-loss streak, however that shut loss to Buffalo was so reassuring that it did not appear to be it was a loss in any respect. It appeared just like the final three video games of the common season ought to have labored out in favor of the Dolphins.
When you thought so, you noticed a mirage.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw three interceptions within the fourth quarter because the Dolphins (8-7) hardened their technique to their first playoff berth since 2016.
Dolphins do not panic, which is sweet.
However it’s smart now to fret about their expertise, psychological toughness, and sense of urgency. Any a type of three components might make all of the distinction within the workforce’s final two video games: in New England (7-8) on Sunday and towards the New York Jets (7-8) on Jan. 8.
However first, let’s keep in mind the disappointing defeat by the Packers.
These three interceptions within the fourth quarter had been devastating. Tagovailoa (16 of 25, 310 yards, three interceptions, one landing, 80.8 passer score) was at his worst when the Dolphins wanted his finest. Passage safety was good. Tagovailoa was fired twice and obtained six hits. That was not the purpose. Extensive receivers Tyreke Hill (4 receptions, 103 yards) and Jaylen Waddle (5 receptions, 143 yards, one landing) did the trick. That was not the purpose. The targets had been fairly unfold out. Waddle and Hill had been attacked six instances, operating again Raheem Mostert was attacked thrice, huge receiver Trent Sherfield, tight finish Mike Gesicki and operating backs Alec Ingold and Jeff Wilson Jr. had been attacked twice, and tight finish Durham Smythe was attacked as soon as . . That was not the purpose. The play name wasn’t an issue both. Tagovailoa has turn out to be a significant drawback for the primary time this season. He must play higher and he understands that very properly.
Working recreation: C
The Dolphins ran for 82 yards on 18 carries, 4.6 yards per carry, which is not unhealthy. The issue is that they did not have many significant carries within the second half once they broke for 14 yards seven instances. After all, the Dolphins solely had 45 video games per recreation, 21 within the second half. And we all know that three of these 21 performs within the second half had been interceptions within the fourth quarter, so there weren’t many alternatives on the bottom. However on condition that operating play is not this offense’s forte – it is virtually a minor thought – you’ll be able to’t blame this offensive aspect as it is not relied upon. The Dolphins rank thirty first (penultimate) within the NFL in rush makes an attempt with 331 factors. Steadiness will assist so much on this assault.
Transmission safety: B
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not have a very good day, ending 24 of 38 for 238 yards, one landing, one interception, and a 78.6 strolling passer score. The Dolphins completed with two sacks and simply three quarterback hits as Rodgers used his legs to bop across the go and achieve a couple of yards (18 yards with seven carries). The Dolphins had seven passes defended and will have walked away with a few penalties that weren’t booked, and all issues thought-about, the go protection labored wonderful. However give the Packers credit score for pulling by way of after shedding huge receiver Christian Watson (six receptions, 49 yards) to damage within the second half. The Dolphins weren’t good on this space, however it seems like they had been ok to take the win.
Run safety: A
Inexperienced Bay did not have a lot success on the bottom, gaining 79 yards on 25 carries. Working again AJ Dillon (11 carries, 36 yards, one landing) was within the lead, and you may see by his complete that the run protection was efficient. And when you think about that the Packers had 18, 12, and 11 yard runs for a complete of 41 yards, which is half their complete speeding, the effectiveness of operating protection turns into extra obvious. A fantastic run protection that’s at the moment tenth within the league with 109.1 yards allowed per recreation.
Particular instructions: D
Sure, the Dolphins efficiently shut down the faux punt. However they missed a 48-yard discipline purpose try on the correct and allowed a 93-yard kickoff return that resulted in a Packers discipline purpose. These six factors had been decisive in a recreation that the Dolphins misplaced by six factors. Kicker Jason Sanders’ streak of 12 consecutive discipline objectives ended at a nasty time. Participant Thomas Morstead was used solely as soon as, and this resulted in a 2-yard return and a deal with contained in the opponent’s 20-yard line, which is sweet. However Miami’s return groups additionally allowed a 21-yard kickback along with the 93-yard kickback. Hats off to the protection for permitting the ball to be scored with simply that possession. Particular groups must be higher.
The defensive recreation plan was good. It was environment friendly. On offense and in particular groups, the sport plan was not unhealthy, however the gamers didn’t implement it. It is not the coaches’ fault, it is their accountability. Coaches should be sure that the whole lot is finished appropriately and effectively. It did not occur towards Inexperienced Bay. Coach Mike McDaniel has to discover a technique to make his offense show there’s extra to it than only a massive recreation, and that sort of proof hasn’t come up typically this season. Actually, this workforce depends closely on massive play on each side of the ball and struggles with the drudgery wanted to be persistently environment friendly. It is a harmful trait. The Dolphins have two video games left to determine what they’ll do successfully on a constant foundation, be it massive video games or soiled work. If neither of them takes the Dolphins to the playoffs, the season will definitely be thought-about a nasty one, and McDaniel will take a giant hit in his rookie season.
Inventory: Not relevant
Nothing makes you are feeling optimistic proper now. Working safety was good. Actually, all the protection was fairly good, particularly retaining the Packers from a discipline purpose on that first possession that began on the Dolphins’ 9-yard line. However it’s arduous to reward a protection that made it to 26 despite the fact that it labored brief discipline a couple of instances. The offensive line was so as, and the assault in a giant approach ended with a few lengthy receptions. However usually, nothing good occurred. For the primary time in a complete season, it is arduous to be optimistic about something after a loss. No less than the Dolphins have two video games left and are dealing with a win-and-you-in-game situation. That is the very best you’ll be able to say about this workforce, which has proven an absence of killer intuition when it issues most.
Inventory Down: Violation
The extremely publicized offense ranks ninth within the league in scoring with 24.3 factors per recreation. Congratulations. That is what number of Dolphins averaged in 2014 underneath coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The 2022 offense failed to attain within the second half towards the Inexperienced Bay protection, who had their issues. Keep watch over this unit within the final two video games. The jury has but to succeed in a verdict. In the meanwhile, this can be a group that performs strongly towards mediocre or weak groups, however struggles with good groups or December opponents equivalent to New England (20 factors), Buffalo (Sport 1, 21 factors), Cincinnati (15), New York Jets (17), Minnesota (16), San Francisco (17), Los Angeles Chargers (17) and Inexperienced Bay (20). Sure, the offense scored 29 factors in Buffalo (misplaced) and 42 in Baltimore (win), however just about constructed a status towards unhealthy groups and in conditions with out stress.