We thought it was going to be bad when Chad Henne went down in the fourth game.
We didn’t know what “bad” is.
“Bad” is getting your hide peeled off 26-10 by a bad Eagles team right in your own ballpark.
“Bad” is 4-9 on the season and still facing games at Buffalo and New England and then back here against the Jets.
“Bad” is scoring your lowest total in the past eight games.
“Bad” is giving up 24 points in a second quarter. Or any quarter. This just happened to be the second.
“Bad” is having your whole offense go sour after losing tackle Jake Long in the second quarter. He’s a great player, but your offense shouldn’t stand or fall on one lineman.
Yes, this is a really bad Miami team.
I say that with a certain affection — you get that way when you’ve been covering a team for nearly half a century.
Besides, it has been a while since I had to say anything like it. Four years, actually, since those poor guys went 1-15.
I hate giving up on a season. I thought we said goodbye to that at the end of the 1960s. And heaven knows everybody from coach Tony Sparano down to his lowest scrub is busting his hump out there. But everything still keeps coming up snake-eyes.
And it’s hard to imagine any big turnaround from here.
Brandon Marshall might have offered the most realistic, if inartistic, guidance.
“It sucks that we’re not going to be in the playoffs,” Marshall said. “All we can do is approach these next three games with fire and passion.”
That would be a start. Eagles defensive end Trent Cole said something bearing upon it when he commented, “Eagles football … we all stay strong until the end.”
But it isn’t just something you say. You do it. Or you don’t.
Now, for just a second, let’s go back to something Houston’s Eric Winston said even after the Texans beat the Dolphins 23-13 way back on Sept. 18. “I really believe the Dolphins are going to be there at the end,” is what he said.
Be where, Eric? At 4-12 after entertaining brief visions of an 8-8 season?
No, that’s not at all what Winston meant. He thought they were going to be good.
They’re not good. It’s impossible for them even to be as good as .500 at the end. Their only hope is to perform respectably the rest of the way and wind up 7-9, which would still be just as bad as the 2009 and ’10 seasons.
Nothing in Sunday’s game would indicate that respectability is just around the corner.
“We have to play better … and finish …” center Mike Pouncey put it.
People blocking somebody would be one way to start.
Nine sacks! Giving up nine sackeroos!
They were that bad just once before, in ’99 against the Patriots. But that team finished 9-7. This one can’t.
Again, we thought it was going to be bad when Henne went down and left it all to Matt Moore, who is doing his best.
But this bad?
In brutal fact, the Dolphins have seldom been this bad since the 1960s, which is hardly what Stephen Ross had in mind when he extended Sparano’s contract in the offseason.
It isn’t that one game makes such a difference. It is one game, and then another game, and then another, and pretty soon you’re up to your shoulders in alligators.
Which is exactly where the Dolphins are now.
Just remember this. Henne coming back next season doesn’t mean instant salvation. The Dolphins were 0-3 when he went down.