Of all the red flags to emerge from Friday night’s clunker, this might be the most sobering for the Dolphins: their preseason is more than half over, and they seem to be getting worse, not better.
The defense can’t make a stop, the offensive line struggles to protect, and Miami’s wide receivers — a group referred to by general manager Jeff Ireland as a bunch of “fours, fives and sixes” on Hard Knocks — scare no one.
And in three short weeks, the games will count, beginning with a trip to Houston to face perhaps the most dangerous team in the AFC.
“The one thing we’re not doing right now is panicking,” said cornerback Sean Smith, the victim of a questionable pass-interference call Friday night that negated an interception.
“We’re definitely not starting the way we thought we [would], but there are plenty of practices to be done.”
Depends on your definition of plenty. The Dolphins — who came out flat in each of their first two preseason games — return to work Sunday, only five days before they have to play yet another dangerous NFC South team (this time Atlanta).
They’ll get in three hard-hitting days of practice this week, and then probably two more the following before closing the preseason at Dallas. That’s just five more training camp-style workdays before their focus turns from fundamentals to game planning.
Here’s what is left on the to-do list before then:
“It just wasn’t a clean operation, and that’s a poor reflection on me and we’ve got to do a better job,” a deflated Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said in the bowels of Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium after the most recent loss.
Moore, who said Friday night the Dolphins should be concerned about how they have played, added: “I think guys understand we have to get better fast and make plays when they’re there.”