Miami Dolphins

If Dolphins don’t beat Browns, they may as well start thinking about next season

If the Dolphins and quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) get smothered again and lose to the Browns on Sunday they might as well look ahead to next year’s NFL Draft because their likelihood of reaching the playoffs is tiny.
If the Dolphins and quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) get smothered again and lose to the Browns on Sunday they might as well look ahead to next year’s NFL Draft because their likelihood of reaching the playoffs is tiny. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Time to Rock, Miami Dolphins. And if you don’t, prepare to get rolled.

It’s a new day, in a truly new stadium where the Dolphins are technically undefeated (at least under a roof).

And if they harbor any realistic hopes of a playoff run, the Dolphins better still be when the sun goes down.

Because history suggests a loss Sunday against the lowly Browns would all but end their season before it’s even a month old.

Mark Twain believed statistics were as misleading as lies and damn lies, but Twain never had the misfortune of rooting for an 0-2 NFL team. Two of them will play at renovated Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.

And the loser of Dolphins-Browns can start thinking about the draft.

Since the NFL playoffs expanded to 12 qualifiers in 1990, 128 teams have lost the first three games of their regular season. Of those 128, just three reached the postseason, according to Stats LLC.

Three.

That’s 2.3 percent.

Or roughly the same odds of correctly guessing what card you’ll randomly pick from a joker-less deck.

Which explains why Jordan Cameron was asked this week — again, just a half-month into the season — if Sunday’s Browns-Dolphins game is a must-win.

“Definitely not,” Cameron sniffed. “It’s a long season.”

Perhaps. But there will almost certainly be no other point in this season in which the Dolphins are so heavily favored to win. The betting line is 10 points. It probably should be even higher.

The Browns will trot out rookie Cody Kessler at quarterback because their starter (Robert Grifffin III) and his backup (Josh McCown) sustained shoulder injuries in the first weeks.

Cleveland’s best receiver (Josh Gordon) has had more warrants issued for his arrest than catches this fall, and the team’s second-best receiver (Corey Coleman) broke his hand in practice last week.

The Browns can expect zero sympathy from the Dolphins, who lost games in Seattle and New England by a combined nine points to put themselves in this precarious spot.

“It’s the NFL,” safety Michael Thomas said. “Whoever they have out there, they worked hard. They earned that spot. Whoever they have out there, we prepare to win. We’re focusing on us. What can we do to be successful?”

Well, starting fast would be a good start. The Dolphins are the NFL’s Rip Van Winkle: perpetually asleep.

Slow starts bedeviled the team during the Joe Philbin Era, and Adam Gase hasn’t yet fixed the problem.

The Seahawks and Patriots combined to outscore Miami 30-6 before halftime. The Dolphins have won second halves 28-13 in 2016, but that and 50 cents will buy you — well nothing, really.

At least that’s Brandon Albert’s view.

Someone asked if the Dolphins’ 24-point second-half outburst against the Patriots could be a confidence builder.

Albert’s response?

“We lost.”

But you scored a lot …

“We lost,” Albert repeated. “We lost. I mean, it’s a confidence builder, but we lost. We lost. If we got a W, it’d be different. But if you believe in moral victories, that’s …”

Not enough, obviously. Which prompted another follow up:

Are moral victories for losers?

“I’m not saying moral victories are for losers, but how many times you going to keep saying, ‘We were on the edge. We could have did this, could have did that?’ We’ve got to get a W. Point blank.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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