Here’s how the Dolphins handled their worst loss in franchise history, the day after:
▪ Coach Brian Flores showed commendable accountability, telling reporters “obviously I didn’t do a good enough job of getting this team prepared to play.”
▪ Team captain, center Daniel Kilgore, sent the very public, very direct message to any player who might think about requesting a trade. “If you don’t want to be here, I don’t want you here,” the Dolphins veteran center said.
▪ And Minkah Fitzpatrick, the team’s first-round pick in 2018, expressed a degree of dissatisfaction with how Miami’s coaching staff contributed to the team’s 59-10 shellacking by the Ravens.
When asked what issues in the secondary led to Lamar Jackson throwing for five touchdown passes, Fitzpatrick minced no words:
“A lot of different things. Guys not locked in, looking at the wrong things. Sometimes we weren’t put in the best position, but even still, it’s up to the players to make the plays. Coach can call whatever he wants but, like on my play, I wasn’t in the best position, but I still got to make the play, I’ve got to cover my guy. That’s what I usually do.”
It’s hard to know which exact play Fitzpatrick meant, because he was left chasing on at least two touchdown passes Sunday.
The first was when Marquise Brown beat him vertically for an 83-yard touchdown pass, brushing off a slight bump by Fitzpatrick and running unimpeded to the end zone. There was no safety help over the top against one of the league’s fastest receivers.
Then late in the game, Fitzpatrick and linebacker Raekwon McMillan collided after a bad miscommunication on the goal line, leaving Mark Andrews wide open for a 3-yard touchdown catch.
All told, it was the worst Fitzpatrick had been beaten in his short NFL career. And it surely contributed to Flores’ decision to bench the former Alabama star for much of the second half.
And yet, he got no explanation why Flores pulled him from the game, and insisted he doesn’t need one.
But there’s clearly something bubbling beneath the surface with Fitzpatrick, and it’s not a new development. His mom famously took to Twitter during training camp to point out her son was playing out of position in Miami’s defense — an observation that Fitzpatrick confirmed when asked about it back in August.
All this has caused some to wonder: Is he one of the unnamed Dolphins players who, according to Pro Football Talk on Sunday, told their agents they wanted to be traded following Sunday’s loss?
Fitzpatrick wasn’t asked that directly Monday. But a reporter did ask if he wants to remain in Miami.
“Yeah, I want to play football,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have lost games before. It hasn’t been like this, but I have lost games before. Like I said, all I can control is my attitude, the joy I have for this game, the passion for this game. That’s it.”
No, there was no joy in Miami on Sunday. And hardly any more the day after.
The team was a pinata for sports media, both local and nationally, in the 24 hours following the loss.
Even O.J. Simpson piled on via Twitter.
“I want to say to Commissioner [Roger] Goodell: You’re quick to fine players,” Simpson said. “Don’t you think maybe you should fine management sometimes, maybe the owners of Miami, putting that product on the field? How could you do that to the fans of Miami? I’m just saying.”
Kilgore hasn’t heard all of the criticism. But he has heard enough of it from fans to pop off about it Monday.
“I don’t know what they do in their lives,” he said. “I don’t know what they do at their jobs. For us, being here every day and working our tails off. We put so much into it. It’s disheartening to hear the things being said. But you got to block it out. As a team we got to stick together, and encourage one another. It’s a long season. It’s one game. Hopefully we can stack up some wins, block everything out and stick together.”