During this era of prolonged losing (the Dolphins are now 29 games under .500 over the past-decade plus, and 7-14 since the start of last season), things never quite work out as planned or expected.
Much of what the Dolphins assured fans during the offseason has proved to be untrue, at least so far.
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Here’s what the Dolphins told us what they thought would happen, and what actually has:
• Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, in late July: “I’m glad we have Ryan [Tannehill]. I think he has a lot of capabilities. [Coach Adam Gase will] bring out the best in those capabilities.”
Gase, in March: “We are all going to help him get a little better.”
Tannehill actually has regressed. His 83.6 passer rating is 28th in the league and his worst since 2013. Meanwhile, quarterbacks with far less experience are thriving elsewhere, including Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz (103.5), Dallas’ Dak Prescott (101.5) and Denver’s Trevor Siemian (99.6).
Tannehill’s seven interceptions are tied with Houston’s Brock Osweiler for third most in the league, behind only Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 10 and Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston’s eight.
Tannehill, in fact, is on pace for a career high in picks after throwing only 12 each of the past two seasons.
In Tannehill’s defense, his pass protection has again been delinquent, with Miami’s 17 sacks allowed tied with Cincinnati for second-most, ahead of only Indianapolis’ 20.
When Tannehill did not face pressure, his passer rating was 133 against Cincinnati and 118.5 against Tennessee, according to Pro Football Focus. But on snaps when he faced pressure, his rating was 0.00 against Cincinnati and 35 against the Titans.
“When we have 18 dropback passes and he’s hit or sacked on nine of them, and completions we do have he has got guys in his face, I’m supposed to blame him for that?” Gase said Monday. “I’m calling the plays. I know what it’s supposed to look like and it’s not looking like that right now as far as what’s going on around him.
“When we start cleaning some things up and give him a chance to perform at the level I think he’s going to perform. And if he doesn’t do it, that’s one thing. I need to see where we get a chance on protection. We’re right on a lot of other things we’re supposed to be doing. Is he going to have mistakes? Yes.
“That last interception. I told him before he went out there when I call this play, you’re going to have fit this in. he tries to fit in and he gets jacked, to the point I thought he was going to get his rotator cuff blown out and his knee blown out. Everybody gets pissed at him. Everybody wants to blame that position. It’s an easy one to do. you can see completion, incompletion, interception. When you hit you’re back foot and get sacked, not much you can do about it.”
▪ Gase, in August, on the team’s run defense: “It’s a very difficult scheme to run against. That front seven is going to do a great job being able to stop the run this year.”
Instead, the Dolphins’ already-deficient run defense (29th in the league last season) is even worse, allowing a league-worst 150.8 yards per game, compared with 126.2 last season. That’s 31 yards more per game than any other AFC team, with Kansas City next-worst in Miami’s conference.
Miami’s ballyhooed Wide 9 defensive approach has been a bust, and aside from Ndamukong Suh (rated first against the run among defensive tackles by PFF) and Kiko Alonso (sixth among linebackers), very few of the other front seven starters are grading out well against the run. Koa Misi is 45th, fill-in starter Donald Butler 46th and Jelani Jenkins 69th among 78 qualifying linebackers.
Jordan Phillips is 99th against the run among 115 defensive tackles. Mario Williams is 29th but Jason Jones is 78th of 86 defensive ends against the run.
▪ Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, asked this summer if Miami has enough good cornerbacks: “Absolutely. Most teams have three capable corners they can play and trust. We have three or four guys we know can play.”
Well, not exactly. The Dolphins are allowing a 101.5 opponent passer rating, worse than the 97.4 last year, and the corners shoulder much of the blame.
Among 117 corners, PFF rates Byron Maxwell 58th (which might be generous, considering the Dolphins benched him two weeks ago), Tony Lippett 65th and injured Xavien Howard 89th. All have allowed a high percentage of passes thrown against them to be caught. Bobby McCain, rated 44th, has played well recently.
▪ Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, this past summer: “This is going to be the most depth at tackle I’ve been around. [We] won’t have to open your newspaper and find a left tackle in the classified.”
Actually, he might, if Branden Albert misses another game this season. Putting Billy Turner at left tackle (his position at North Dakota State) proved disastrous Sunday; he allowed three sacks.
▪ Christensen, two weeks ago, on right tackle Ja’Wuan James: “He’s a good player. I think he can be a premier right tackle in this league. The expectations are high on him.”
James allowed two more sacks Sunday and has now given up 5.5 this season.
“To say he’s not good, that’s a little extreme,” Gase said Monday. “If there are 50 plays, he’s having 45 really good plays and… five bad plays. When you’re at tackle, those five bad plays really stick out.”
▪ Gase, in March, on defensive end Williams: “I feel you’re going to see a different guy with us. I think you’re going to see a different player this year.”
As far as impact, there’s not much difference between this Williams and the one who underperformed in Buffalo last season. Williams had 19 tackles and five sacks for the Bills in 2015.
Through five games as a Dolphin, he has just seven tackles and one sack this season. That’s a pace for a career-low in sacks.
▪ Ross, in July: “This year, I think I’m excited as I can be. I have good expectations.”
Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum told WSVN-7’s Steve Shapiro this past spring that this Dolphins team “would kick the butt” of the 2015 Dolphins. “I’m very optimistic about the trajectory of our team not only this year but well into the future.”
Fast forward four months. These Dolphins are on pace for fewer wins than last season’s 6-10 and are worse statistically in most categories. With a need to upgrade at the majority of positions, the future looks far from rosy.
For my other post from this morning, with even more dismal Dolphins news, plus news on Jose Fernandez, Justise Winslow and notable snap counts from the Dolphins game, plus how the Dolphins game did in TV ratings as opposed to UM -FSU, please click here.