If you turned on the radio or skimmed Twitter on Monday, you’d think the Dolphins are 0-4, in last place of the AFC East and should just cancel the rest of the season.
They call it overreaction Monday for a reason.
And while Dolphins fans are conditioned to expect the worst, the woe-is-me malaise in these parts is a bit much.
Yes, the Dolphins looked awful against the Patriots.
Yes, they have some real issues to fix.
But they are still 3-1. They are still alone atop the AFC East. They are still the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
And with a win Sunday, they would hold tiebreakers against the leaders of the AFC South and AFC North.
Plus, there’s reason to believe their best football is ahead of them — even with an avalanche of injuries.
Adam Gase’s offenses in Miami have historically started slow, and then improved as he figures out the best way to use his talent. It happened in 2016, when the Dolphins bounced back from a 1-4 start to reel off wins in nine of 10 games, scoring 26.1 points per game in that stretch. And it’s not like that team was injury-free.
Ryan Tannehill missed games. Reshad Jones missed games. Mike Pouncey missed games. Remember that playoff-clinching win in Buffalo? Of course you do.
But you probably don’t remember that Kraig Urbik, Donald Butler, Neville Hewitt and Michael Thomas were in the starting lineup that day. And Bacarri Rambo started in the playoff game. And we haven’t even mentioned Matt Moore yet.
There’s no denying the Dolphins are banged up. But every team has lost somebody, and will inevitably lose several more as the season goes on.
Really, the one player the Dolphins cannot afford to lose is Ryan Tannehill. So long as he stays up right, they will have a chance.
And let’s check their schedule for a second. Yes, the Dolphins are six-point underdogs in Cincinnati. And next week against the Bears looks like no picnic either.
But after that stretch, they face just two teams currently with a winning record: the Packers and Jaguars.
They will play a bunch of teams they should beat, assuming their offense returns after a one-week vanishing act.
None of that will matter, of course, if the Dolphins don’t block better. Their offensive line Sunday was bad. The team knows that.
But the Dolphins still have their two starting tackles, and the coaching staff really likes Travis Swanson, who will presumably start with Daniel Kilgore out for the season. It’s not like in 2016, when the Dolphins asked Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas to protect Tannehill’s blind side.
On defense, yes the rankings are ugly. They give up too many yards and can’t get off the field on third down. But the most important stat in football is turnover margin, and the Dolphins are good at that. Their defense has forced 10 turnovers — tied for third-most in the league.
Again, Sunday was ugly. And it hurt a prideful group.
But the season is not a straight line. Things not only can change, but almost always do.
“The guys on this team know that it’s a marathon,” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said Sunday. “Technically we’ve got the first quarter down and we’ve got a long way to go. Three months, three weeks, three days from now, we probably won’t be talking about this game the same way nobody’s talking about what happened in the Titans game. It’s ancient history and again, three weeks from now, we’ll be moving on to whatever the next challenge is and again this will ancient history. I think the guys understand that, things happen fast and you’ve got your 15 minutes to do whatever you’ve got to do, pat or cry or smile. But you’ve got to move on.”