In fairness, the Dolphins are not nothing, but what they are is a team with too little margin for error to afford consecutive losses.
What they also are — after a loss this dumbfoundingly lopsided — is a team that invites all of the skeptics and doubters back under the tent.
I mean, how to explain that Miami failed to cross the goal line even once Sunday against a Titans defense that was allowing 34.2 points per game and on pace to allow more than any other team ever? The Dolphins couldn’t generate a single big play, with none longer than 17 yards.
Reggie Bush’s fumble on Miami’s second possession set off the Titans avalanche, and he would not return to the game until the middle of the third quarter. Later guard Richie Incognito also was benched after a roughness penalty cost Miami dearly.
I agree with the benching of Incognito, who must learn to contain the aggressiveness that just landed him No. 2 in a dirtiest-players poll. Not at all as sure about benching Bush for half a game. Trying to teach somebody a lesson is OK, but trying to win a game is even better.
Bottom line: Turnovers (four) and penalties (seven) were the hub of a thoroughly disheveled performance, but don’t exonerate the defense; too much was going wrong over there, too. Miami allowed 177 rushing yards and saw Chris Johnson end its league-best 22-game streak of not allowing an opposing 100-yard rusher. Neither did Miami pressure the Titans’ pocket or force a single turnover.
The bad day extended beyond Miami the team to Miami the city.
The stadium was one-third empty, and Dolfans who once gave this club a distinct home-field advantage have over time relinquished that. With Sunday’s loss the team’s home record since 2003 is now 31-41.
The slapped-down Dolphins hardly have time for self-pity now, which probably is a good thing. The team will be on a plane in a couple of days for a Thursday night game at Buffalo.
Last word to Tannehill, the rookie with enough savvy to know the truth in this:
“We’re going to see what kind of character we have this week.”