Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins eliminated from playoff hunt with egregious loss to Jaguars

Time for tough choices, Stephen Ross.

Your 10th season as Dolphins owner crashed and burned Sunday, with a embarrassing, playoff-eliminating 17-7 loss to Blake Bortles and the 10-loss Jaguars.

It was the kind of effort that gets people fired.

Who stays?

Who deserves to after this fiasco?

With the Dolphins’ season on the line, they barely showed up.

When Ryan Tannehill threw a 33-yard pick-six to Telvin Smith Sr. early in the fourth quarter, the unraveling was complete.

And probably, so was his time in Miami.

Sure, he could still start next week in Buffalo, but what’s the point?

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After seven years, everyone knows what he is — and that’s not enough to lift the Dolphins beyond mediocrity. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 146 yards, a touchdown and an interception Sunday. How can you justify his $26.6 million cap number next year, particularly after how he played the week before against the Vikings?

The Dolphins (7-8) have one of the league’s worst offenses, and they played down to their ranking Sunday.

Two of nine on third downs. One hundred eighty-three yards of offense. No plays in Jacksonville territory in the second half.

“The defense played great,” said running back Kenyan Drake. “On the offensive side of the ball, we just didn’t get the job done.”

Added Dolphins coach Adam Gase: “The offense was awful. It was brutal to watch, to be a part of.”

Imagine how it was for fans, who booed Gase and Miami’s offense off the field after one of many failed drives.

Major changes are needed. A quarterback switch will help.

But Randall Cunningham would have had a hard time escaping pressure the past two games.

A week after the Vikings sacked Tannehill nine times, he was dropped three more times by the Jaguars (5-10).

And pressure from Calais Campbell — yes, the same Campbell whose hit to Tannehill’s knee two years ago forever altered his career trajectory — forced a terrible pass in the flat with the Dolphins down just three points. Smith jumped the route, made the pick and had time to taunt the Dolphins’ offense en route to the end zone.

That could be Tannehill’s final signature moment as a member of the Dolphins. The interception ensured the Dolphins would miss the playoffs for the 15th time in the last 17 years.

Will that cost Gase his job after three years? That’s for Ross to decide.

Sometime between now and New Year’s Eve, Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier will probably learn their fate.

Sunday was not helpful for any of their long-term job prospects.

Gase runs the offense, and it’s been brutal in the season’s most important time.

The Dolphins failed to gain 200 yards for the third time in four games.

That’s hard to do any era. In this era of prolific offenses, it’s almost unthinkable.

The Dolphins’ only points came on their opening drive, when Tannehill connected with Brandon Bolden on a four-yard shovel pass.

The Dolphins gained 83 yards on that drive. On their final nine possessions?

100.

Punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, fumble, punt, punt, interception, punt.

“They dominated us up front,” Gase said. “We got sacked. We couldn’t run the ball. There were no holes. We were getting pushed back. We just didn’t do a good job.”

TV cameras caught an indelible image: Ross, in his box, holding his head late in the game with Dan Marino sitting to his right and Tannenbaum to his left.

Ross will decide in the next week if a complete reset is needed, or if targeted terminations will correct the course. Matt Burke’s defense actually played well Sunday — sacking Jaguars quarterbacks six times and giving up just 3.9 yards per play — but it was probably too little, too late to save Miami’s defensive coordinator.

“I don’t think anything drastic needs to change,” said Dolphins corner Bobby McCain. “We just have to play better. We need to be better. And that starts with us.”

Added Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who will watch the playoffs from home for the ninth time in his 10 seasons:

“I learned a long time ago, you are what your record says you are. ... I’ve stood here many times and said we can’t play lights out one week and then kind of drop the ball one week, lights out, drop the ball. Then you end up like wherever we are now. The games were we played well, you have to continue to play that way. It’s not a can’t. Again, it’s a didn’t.”

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Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
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