Their latest defeat Sunday in San Diego added to an already sour season for the Dolphins.
Victories against the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots — Miami’s final two opponents — won’t change the fact the Dolphins (5-9) will not make the playoffs and will finish with a losing record.
But for interim coach Dan Campbell, the message hasn’t changed and neither has his desire for success.
“Winning means everything, it’s why I’m in this, and it’s why I hope we are all in this,” Campbell said. “That’s what makes it fun, and that’s what you crave. It means everything, and I want to win to win. There’s nothing fun about the taste of crap in your mouth, and that’s what we’ve had.”
The Dolphins will likely have an even tougher time achieving a more pleasant outcome the next two weeks if their prognosis on a few key starters is as bad as Campbell hinted Monday.
Mike Pouncey, Branden Albert, Koa Misi and Chris McCain all went down with injuries during the 30-14 loss to the Chargers.
Pouncey left the game with 1:57 left in the third quarter after injuring his left foot, and Albert left with 59 seconds left in the first quarter after injuring his surgically repaired right knee.
At one point, the Dolphins played with a line consisting of second-year player Ulrick John at left tackle and rookie Jamil Douglas at center.
Campbell did not have an update on the four but said the preliminary indications on Pouncey, McCain (knee) and Misi (back) “didn’t sound good.” Campbell said the news on Albert seemed more favorable.
“We have two [games] to go,” Campbell said. “We’re going to come in Wednesday and go to work and clean up the issues, put together a good game plan for Indy and go to work. It’s the only way I know how to do it.”
Should Pouncey and possibly Albert be lost for the remainder of the season, Campbell said one of the biggest concerns is continuity on an offensive line where experience is more and more at a premium with each passing week.
The Dolphins managed only 231 yards against the Chargers and only 44 rushing.
“I didn’t feel like the effort was the issue,” Campbell said. “Physically, we were ready, but the focus was not there. The focus on details and the discipline lacked. But physically us showing up and trying to finish plays was there. They fought all the way through.”
Left guard Dallas Thomas, who is in his third season, could be the team’s most experienced offensive lineman going into the Colts game.
“That’s always an issue because you always want to have five guys there that are all on the same page,” Campbell said. “Now, essentially, you have rookie, second-year guy and a third-year guy in Dallas on the line. It will be interesting, but those guys will fight, and if that’s what we’ve got, we will make a go of it.”
Campbell said the one positive from Sunday’s loss is several young players earned significant playing time.
“After [Albert] went down and Pouncey, those guys rallied and we got a 12-yard touchdown, and they battled and gave us a chance,” Campbell said. “That was encouraging. If there’s anything positive it’s that we had eight first-year players in there starting at one point in the game. Certainly, you want to win those games, but that would be one positive to take from it.”
Campbell was pleased with the performance of reserve rookie cornerback Tony Lippett, both on defense and special teams.
“I like the way he went in and competed,” Campbell said. “It certainly wasn’t perfect, but he was around the ball, and he was in on tackles. When I challenged the players, he is what I was looking for the way he went out and competed.”
▪ Jarvis Landry broke the Dolphins’ single-game record for catches in a season Sunday. Landry has 181 during his first two seasons, which is one short of the 182 of the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr.