It really doesn’t matter who quarterbacks the Dolphins at this point.
Ryan Tannehill or Brock Osweiler?
They’re not going to beat anybody with what suddenly looks to be the worst defense in football.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Matt Burke’s bunch had another stinker Thursday.
And this time, it was on national television.
Deshaun Watson lit them up like a jack-o’-lantern. Lamar Miller ran all over them. And perhaps most tellingly, Adam Gase kicked onsides down eight points with entire fourth quarter to go.
Gase simply didn’t trust his defense to get a stop. He was right.
Final score: Texans 42, Dolphins 23.
Embarrassing. And comprehensively awful.
There were so many major defensive breakdowns, big ones like Miller’s 58-yard carry almost got forgotten.
The Dolphins had no answer for Watson, either in the pocket or out
Watson had five touchdown passes — on his first 19 passing attempts! — and each one exposed the Dolphins major deficiencies on defense.
They can’t cover the tight end (Jordan Thomas had two scoring catches).
They can’t sack the quarterback (Watson escaped a number of would-be tacklers on his second of two touchdown passes).
And they have inexcusable breakdowns on the back end that led to 73 and 49-yard touchdown passes.
What’s up with Bobby McCain? Will Fuller ran right past him time and again.
And while Xavien Howard seemed to hold up OK against DeAndre Hopkins, ‘Nuk’ still had two scoring catches.
The Texans obliterated and embarrassed the Dolphins in the second half, with touchdowns on four of their first five possessions.
The Dolphins’ 3-0 start? A distant memory.
They reach the season’s midway point at .500 for the third time in as many seasons under Gase’s stewardship.
And here’s why: The Dolphins have allowed an absurd 167 points over their last five games.
Even if Osweiler played like Dan Marino, it wouldn’t much matter.
And on this night, he was no Marino.
Facing the team that shipped him to Cleveland one year after it gave him a $72 million contract, Osweiler got no revenge.
Instead, he basically proved Bill O’Brien right.
Osweiler completed 21 of 37 passes for 241 yards and an interception. Many of those stats were hollow.
The first half was, frankly, weird.
The Dolphins could have very easily been up 10-7.
And they just as easily been up 21-6.
The Dolphins’ only first-half touchdown came after the Texans messed up on a made field goal by Jason Sanders. The refs determined that defensive end Joel Heath slugged John Denney in the face-mask, assessing a 15-yard penalty that gave Miami new life. The Dolphins made it count when Kenyan Drake ran 12 yards for a touchdown.
Then it was the Texans’ turn to catch a break. A missed defensive hold on Houston safety Mike Tyson resulted in a Osweiler interception. Two plays later, Watson connected with Thomas for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
But that all was just prelude to the strangest exchange of the half: Osweiler’s fumble-for-a-touchdown that wasn’t.
The Dolphins’ two-minute drill appeared to end in catastrophe when Josh Keyes blasted Oweiler in the act of throwing. The ball somehow went straight backwards, and Natrell Jamerson scooped it up for an apparent touchdown. But upon review, the officials determined the pass was incomplete, and Houston had to settle for a 14-10 halftime lead.
The third quarter somehow even topped it.
Two Watson touchdown passes.
One by Danny Amendola.
And the ol’ double-ricochet completion to DeVante Parker.
Watson’s top play: a perfectly thrown, 73-yard bomb to Fuller, who ran past McCain and had nothing between him and the end zone. McCain motioned as though he was expected help from Reshad Jones, but none was there.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, scored on a double pass from Amendola to Kenyan Drake and on a Sanders field goal after Parker pulled in a pass that started in the hands of Jakeem Grant, was knocked loose then took a wild carom forward.
It was the last thing that went Miami’s way all night.