What we have here is the start of the 2018 offseason. That’s what we care about now.
The Miami Dolphins are done in 2017. We’ve knew that last week when they lost to hapless Tampa Bay and it was solidified Sunday with a 35-17 loss to New England that wasn’t really as close as the score.
Indeed, the Dolphins got all of one offensive score in this game. And it came in the fourth quarter.
DeVante Parker was a ghost. Matt Moore threw two interceptions. The blocking yielded seven sacks — to a mediocre pass-rushing team.
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And Miami’s lone offensive TD happened when the Patriots were solidly in control of the game.
The defense had a couple of good moments: Reshad Jones returned a fumble on a bad snap from center Ted Karras to Tom Brady. Jones picked up the ball that had flown past an unaware Brady and scored from 14 yards out with the return.
But the Miami defense is a tease. And it isn’t good enough.
Did I tell you Brady threw four touchdown passes this game?
Did I tell you that time after time, the Miami secondary left Patriots receivers uncovered?
Did I tell you Rob Gronkowski, known to the entire Earth as a red zone threat for New England, caught two red zone TD passes?
Thirty-five points for New England.
The troubling thing about these Dolphins is not just that they’ve lost five straight games — and yes, that’s bad — but that other AFC East teams are playing better.
Which AFC East teams?
All of them.
The Buffalo Bills beat Kansas City on Sunday. They’re 6-5 and have playoff aspirations.
The New York Jets are 4-7, which is the same as the Dolphins in a year they were said to be tanking. But the Jets are competing. They’re playing at a higher level than Miami as their game against Carolina Sunday, in which they stayed with a team that absolutely demolished Miami, showed.
And, yes, the Patriots are 9-2 and lead the division. They’re better than Miami.
All of this is disappointing beyond expectations.
So what do the Dolphins have left to show us this season?
That they can try and salvage a less embarrassing record? That feels empty.
That feels like the season-long equivalent to what this team often does in games it has lost: They play so poorly as to seal the outcome of the game early and then move the football late, when it no longer matters, to make the loss seem somehow less convincing.
That’s garbage time production.
And the games the team will win from today on out are garbage time victories because all they’ll be doing is hurting a non-playoff team’s draft spot.
Yeah, I mentioned the 2018 draft.
That’s where my head is at now.