Inside yet another somber — and angry — Dolphins locker room here in their home away from home, Miami players said the right things.
The Dolphins had just been shut out for the first time since 2013 — and the first time in the Adam Gase era — and the swagger of 2016 was a distant memory.
The scoreboard outside read Saints 20, Dolphin 0. The gulf between the Dolphins and dominance was wider than the Atlantic.
Offense, rightly, took the blame. The defense, rightly, didn’t pile on.
And players mimicked their coach, saying this is no time to panic.
But sometimes, your eyes can hear better than your ears.
And the visuals were of a team in distress.
The Dolphins were shell-shocked. More than a few players had the 1,000-yard stare.
Clyde Christensen, the team’s offensive coordinator, was one of them when, making his way to the bus, he ran into perhaps most glum person in all of Wembley Stadium.
Gase has never experienced anything like this as an offensive coordinator or a head coach. No matter what he designs, the result has been the same: failure. They even tried the Wildcat on Sunday, which resulted like too many other plays with a penalty.
So Christensen and Gase chatted privately for a few minutes as the team got dressed. The contents of that conversation? Only they know.
But it’s fair to say they searched, in vain, for answers.
“I’m one of the leaders of our offense,” said center Mike Pouncey, standing 20 yards away from the cpaches. “Right now, it’s just unacceptable the way our offense is playing.”
Said guard Jermon Bushrod: “We barely executed. I’ve got to take a good, hard look in the mirror at myself and figure out what the hell I’m going to do to get myself back on track.”
And what about Jarvis Landry, who hides his thoughts like a first-time poker player sitting down at a table of pros?
“They need to, they need to, they need to get better,” Landry said.
Maybe it’s the venue. The Dolphins have lost three of their four games played in Wembley Stadium, and for the second occasion in three years, the visit was disastrous.
The last time the Dolphins played here, the Dolphins stunk it up, and Joe Philbin lost his job the following day.
Gase isn’t going anywhere — anytime soon.
Sunday’s latest embarrassment showed that Gase was right. His offense is “garbage.”
But it’s worst than that. For all the grief Philbin rightfully took throughout three and a half forgettable seasons in Miami, the Dolphins’ offense was never this bad.
They have scored 25 points in three games. The fewest a Philbin-led offense ever managed in Miami was 31.
It was the first time the Dolphins (1-2) have been shutout in nearly four years.
And it’s time to wonder: Did the Dolphins make a $10 million mistake?
Quarterback Jay Cutler has been completely lost the past two weeks. On Sunday, he completed 20 of 28 passes for a ghastly 164 yards and an even more dreadful interception.
The first half was simply awful.
Cutler threw a pick in the end zone (his eighth in the past five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info, tied for fourth-most in football).
Yet another kicker missed a field goal against the Dolphins (it has happened four times in three games).
The teams combined for 11 penalties and five punts.
And the Dolphins sideline was angry. Gase spiked whatever was in his hands after a conversation with Cutler. Fox caught London native Jay Ajayi shouting after a failed Dolphins drive.
The second half? Even worse. Just 65 of their 186 total yards came after intermission.
The defense did its job, keeping Saints quarterback Drew Brees largely in check. The offense let that side of the ball down, Bushrod said.
“We’re not doing anything to help any situation,” he continued. “We don’t score early. We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot with the penalties. We can’t keep having negative plays. They did a hell of a job up there.”
The symbolism was rich in the layout of the Dolphins’ locker room. A physical room divided the offensive and defensive players. Players on both sides of the ball talked about being unified Sunday, and no one threw anyone else under the bus.
But there are 13 more games to go. If the offense keeps playing like this, issues aren’t just likely, they’re inevitable.
“They’ve been carrying us for the last couple of weeks, and we haven’t responded,” Bushrod said.