Losing 38-7 in New England has a way of limiting one’s vocabulary — at least in polite company.
So reporters heard the following Thursday:
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Words all uttered by the Dolphins’ offensive and defensive coordinators.
They surely said a lot worse behind closed doors.
And it didn’t really matter who said what.
Their descriptors were basically interchangeable.
And while Dowell Loggains and Matt Burke would have preferred flushing those three hours from their brain by Monday night, they had to relive them one last time during their respective news conferences Thursday.
Their groups were bad Sunday. And they owned it.
“It felt like déjà vu to last year up there, honestly,” said Burke, whose defense surrendered 449 yards, 26 first downs and 6.0 yards per play against the Patriots.
“The story of the game really comes down to third down,” Loggains added. “We have to do a better job of converting those third downs. Playing 47 plays in any game is not acceptable.”
The Dolphins’ offense converted just three of its 11 third-down attempts — and one of those three came on a meaningless final play of the first half.
So Miami cannot get off the field or stay on the field.
Not a winning formula.
“Disappointed that we didn’t execute the way we talked about executing,” Burke said. “In general, if we give our best shot and play our game and lose to a team that beats us because they’re better or they made some plays we didn’t make, that’s one thing. When we make a lot of mistakes and do a lot of things that are uncharacteristic of how we’ve been playing, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing.
“I’d rather kind of go toe-to-toe and have our best shot and get their best shot, ‘Hey they made a couple of plays that we didn’t make,’ then fine.”
The defensive message all last week was “poise and execution, poise and execution, do your job play to play to play,” Burke said.
That apparently went in one ear and out the other.
The Dolphins committed three penalties on third downs that extended drives. They surrendered five plays of 20 yards or longer, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson that was a complete coverage bust. They stopped the Patriots on just five of their 15 third-down opportunities.
“To have the penalties and all the stuff, some breakdowns go on that obviously we hadn’t the first three weeks of the season. It’s disappointing,” Burke said. “That was my message more than anything. I wasn’t yelling or anything. It was more about, ‘Hey, we have to get this fixed.’ You just try to come with some of the whys things happen and here’s what we have to clean up. Here’s how it happened. Here’s why it happened. We can’t have these things moving forward. It was more disappointing than anything.”
On offense, it was just as bleak.
On Ryan Tannehill’s 10 drives (he was pulled late in the game), the Dolphins crossed midfield once. The Dolphins averaged 2.2 yards per carry before the meaningless final drive. And they were so atrocious on first and second downs, third down was irrelevant. But yeah, that was bad too.
“The way you do that is continue to go first down-second down-first down, or when you get in third down, you have to convert on those situations,” Loggains said. “How do you do that? You stay in third-and-2 to 6. You can’t have penalties. You can’t have negative plays that bump you out of that. Three of the five first series of the game, we have two penalties and we drop a snap. That’s kind of the story of the game. It kind of got away from us. It was 17-0 at that point against a good team on the road.”
And when you’re not getting the big plays that carried this offense the season’s first three weeks, you have no offense at all. Injuries and poor play on the offensive line play have neutralized what the Dolphins had expected to be a good ground game.
“I think the big part of that is the message to the guys is, ‘We need to execute better,’” Loggains said. “... As they play together, it will continue to improve.”
Added Burke: “It’s disappointing. That was my message more than anything. I wasn’t yelling or anything. It was more about, ‘Hey, we have to get this fixed.’ You just try to come with some of the whys things happen and here’s what we have to clean up. Here’s how it happened. Here’s why it happened. We can’t have these things moving forward. It was more disappointing than anything.”