After this disastrous game there was a massive search under way among the Dolphins for reasons why they lost to the hapless New York Jets.
Some players, including Jay Ajayi and Laremy Tunsil and several others, said the team didn’t practice well last week. After they said that, coach Adam Gase was asked if he sensed that to be the case.
“Nope,” Gase said.
And this is where I remind you Gase is the coach who took over last year and was appalled the team hadn’t practiced at full speed for years before he arrived. He’s the guy who pushes players to practice as if it’s a game day because the habit makes game day easier.
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So unless Gase took a nap all last week, I’m not sure the practice excuse flies.
Fine, so maybe the team was out of sorts because it was overly focused on striking the right chord on its pregame national anthem protest in response to President Donald Trump’s tweets about players who kneel rather than stand.
Let me see if I buy that …
The Dolphins spent between five and seven minutes discussing the matter Saturday night in a players only meeting. The Jets had a much longer meeting, coach Todd Bowles said.
Both teams thought themselves united prior to the game. Both felt comfortable with how they comported themselves — even if many fans who buy season tickets or DirecTV packages do not and are going to respond by canceling their funding of the NFL.
That’s not the point.
The point is I don’t see how the Dolphins were so emotionally overcome or entangled by their linking of arms (and kneeling for the handful of Dolphins who did that) that they lost their focus before the game, when the Jets also linked arms and stood in unison and lost no such focus.
So there’s that excuse filed in a trash bin.
Well, how about post-hurricane trauma? How about the Dolphins suffered fatigue from a travel schedule? Perhaps that schedule finally took a toll on a team that just spent a week in California and had to travel to New York for its next practice.
The Miami Herald has learned the Dolphins did not travel to California nor New York in covered wagons. They flew there and flew home. And speaking of home, that’s where the Dolphins were for five days last week.
And did I mention the Jets played at Oakland last week and also had to not take a covered wagon home to New York?
So I dismiss travel fatigue as an excuse for this embarrassing performance.
That leads me to the actual, true reasons the Dolphins lost to the Jets, 20-6 on Sunday:
“They just beat the [expletive] out of us,” Gase said. “That’s the best way to put it. We didn’t show up, didn’t play physical.”
The Dolphins got out-muscled, outwitted, outmaneuvered by a team that was more interested in winning a game than Miami was.
Bowles and his staff coached better than Gase and his staff. That third-quarter 15-yard pass completion from Josh McCown to defensive-lineman-playing-fullback Lawrence Thomas could be seen coming a mile away from the minute the big dude wearing No. 97 lined up in the backfield in the first quarter and officials announced him as an eligible receiver.
It was if someone was screaming the Jets have tricks today and no one on the Dolphins bench noticed.
McCown, by the way, played quarterback like Jay Cutler is supposed to but didn’t. McCown outplayed Cutler.
It’s obvious that Cutler can produce when he’s protected and the pocket is clean and the football comes out quickly. That’s what happened in a win at San Diego. In this loss, the offensive line got destroyed, and Cutler got sacked three times and pummeled a handful of other times.
Pretty soon, Cutler, apparently more interested in not getting killed than completing passes, was way off target.
The offensive line playing poorly is a problem for the Dolphins because if they stink, running back Jay Ajay has no chance to produce. And if Ajayi doesn’t produce, the Dolphins offense cannot survive by simply passing the football. It’s not good enough to do that right now.
“We are,” Cutler said, “ a good offense.”
Cutler followed up with other thoughts, which I ignored because the first thought was so wrong that I lost interest.
“It baffles me what just happened,” defensive end Cameron Wake said. “It’s kind of frustrating knowing the opportunity we had in front of us, knowing the players and personnel we have in the locker room to come out and play the way we did. It’s unacceptable.
Wake said he felt “shock, anger, disappointment, frustration, on and on and on” over losing this game. He’s free to feel however he wants but none of those feeling really matter because Wake, a veteran of many games in which the Dolphins played like this since before, already knows the real reason his team lost.
“They played better than we did,” Wake said.
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