Dolphins coach Adam Gase on Tuesday defended cornerback Xavien Howard, who has had a difficult second season amid high expectations.
Howard, a second-round draft pick in 2016, doesn’t have an interception in his career and Pro Football Focus rates him 115th of 116 qualifying cornerbacks this season.
According to PFF, Howard against Carolina on Monday allowed five receptions on seven targets for 87 yards and three touchdowns.
"The touchdown they had on the last throw [a 22-yarder from Cam Newton to Devin Funchess], there’s not many guys that can defend that," Gase said. "That thing was on a rope. That was the perfect throw, perfect route. Well executed play. That’s the job of the corner. You better have short-term memory.
“If you’re not getting beat, you’re not playing. It’s very rare you will see corners that never have gotten beat. He’s a good player. He’s a short term memory guy. He’s not going to worry what happened on the last throw."
In the aftermath of another prime-time embarrassment, Dolphins players offered a mix of optimism, frustration and puzzlement.
"I’m lost," defensive end Cam Wake said. "This isn’t acceptable."
Of the woeful run defense that allowed 294 yards and 8.2 per carry, Wake said: "It's frustrating to see that happen. We feel like we should have come out and played more consistent. … Whether it was miscommunication or guys being out of their gaps, I don't know if that was exactly it. I'm sure we'll find out."
Ndamukong Suh’s explanation? "I think it was execution and tackling. At the end of the day we just didn’t tackle."
Others tried to strike a glass-half-full tone:
• Quarterback Jay Cutler: "Adam [Gase] said it really well in the locker room, that’s three weeks out of 16, There’s a lot of football left. The pieces are in that locker room. I truly believe that. I have been around a lot of good teams, there [are] a lot of good guys in there, a lot of talent. And there’s really good coaches."
• Center: Mike Pouncey: "We’re good. We still control our own destiny. We just put ourselves in a deeper hole, but we’re going to keep working hard and we’re going to get us a win next week. I felt like we moved the ball pretty good on this [Carolina] team."
• Defensive end Andre Branch: "There is no way we should give up 350 yards with the players we have, let along 550…. It will be fixed for sure."
THIS AND THAT
According to PFF, guard Ted Larsen and safety T.J.McDonald struggled in their Dolphins debuts. PFF said Larsen’s run-blocking, in particular, was deficient.
McDonald had four missed tackles, most of any safety this week, and dropped an interception.
• With 294 yards rushing and 254 yards passing on Monday, Carolina became just the third team to produce at least 250 rushing yards and 250 passing yards in a Monday Night Football game, joining the Cowboys in 1978 (278 rushing, 305 passing) and Eagles in 2010 (260 rushing, 332 passing).
• Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry has achieved the remarkable combination of leading all NFL receivers in receptions (61) but ranking last among all receivers in yards per catch (7.7).
• Combining audiences from local telecasts on ESPN and ABC-10, the Dolphins-Panthers games produced a 12.1 local rating in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, which is poor for a Monday night rating in the market of one of the competing teams. By comparison, the game did a 23.3 rating in Charlotte.
For perspective, the UM-Notre Dame game generated a 15.6 local rating – higher than the rating for every Dolphins game this season.