The Dolphins’ locker room was about as cheerless as you’d expect after yet another miserable Sunday afternoon on the football field.
Resignation wasn’t the perfect word after the Chargers dispatched the Dolphins 30-10 Sunday.
But it was a lot closer to the truth than seething anger.
This team knows it’s not going anywhere in 2019, not after four 20-plus losses to start the season.
So progress will have be measured in ounces, not tons.
No team wants to go winless, but if the Dolphins don’t beat the dreadful Redskins here in two weeks, the odds of them going oh-for skyrocket.
And yet, they won’t beat Chaminade-Madonna if they give up four sacks a game. If they continue to throw ugly interceptions. Miss make-able field goals. Whiff on tackles. And mishandle the ball.
Yet that’s only part of the problem. They have to get the big things right, for sure. But they are also struggling with the little things, particularly in the second halves of games.
“We were so close,” one Dolphins player groused before bolting for the door. “That’s the s--- that will piss you off.”
Score aside, they were indeed close.
In fact, they were actually ahead for a brief stretch.
A 3-minute, 47-second stretch in the first half to be more precise.
After that, it was all Chargers.
And we mean all Chargers.
As in 23 unanswered points Chargers to close out the game and hand the Dolphins a fourth straight beatdown.
That makes seven straight losses for the Dolphins, dating back to 2018. With the bye next weekend, it will be at least 10 full months between wins for Miami. The Dolphins are 0-4 for the first time since 2011.
On Sunday, it was variation on a regrettable theme:
Play well enough to hang around in the first half.
Get absolutely boat-raced in the second.
On the season, opponents have outscored the Dolphins 81-0 after halftime.
On Sunday, the Chargers out-gained Miami 156-36 in the second half.
Josh Rosen was a microcosm of the Dolphins’ afternoon.
He was excellent in the first half.
He threw a terrible pick and nearly took a safety in the second.
Rosen finished 17 of 24 for 180 yards, a touchdown and a brutal pick. Protection wasn’t terrible behind a line that started J’Marcus Webb at left tackle and Isaiah Prince at right. But it wasn’t great either.
As for the Dolphins’ defense? Another wilt-job in the second half. The backbreaker: When they allowed a 16-play, 66-yard field goal drive in the third quarter that took 10 and a half minutes off the clock in the third quarter.
The Dolphins offense could do nothing but watch as Philip Rivers and the Chargers picked up five first downs on one drive alone — which just just eight fewer than the Dolphins had all game.
That took the fight out of the Dolphins. They had nothing in the fourth quarter. Another week, another monster betting line covered by a Dolphins opponent.
In short, Brian Flores needs to rethink whatever he’s doing at halftime. It’s just not working.
“We’ve got to make better second-half adjustments,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores conceded. “We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to coach it better. And that’s really what it boils down to.”
Reshad Jones said it was a matter of the Dolphins coming out of the locker room too emotionally flat.
Kenyan Drake dismissed that idea, saying instead execution was to blame.
Rosen, meanwhile, probably has an explanation closest to the truth:
“If I had an answer, we’d correctly adjust for it. I don’t know.”
But something has to give.
The Dolphins opened the game with their best half of football of the season Sunday — and still went to the break down a touchdown.
That’s because Jones (injured ankle) gave up two touchdowns in his first game since the opener.
The first was on a mental error — leaving his man in coverage to chase Rivers — and the second a physical one. Just before the half, Jones took a terrible angle and didn’t seem too invested in tackling Austin Ekeler in space.
Plus Jason Sanders missed two long field goals, wasting a strong half by Rosen, who completed 12 of 16 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown pass to DeVante Parker that gave Miami a 10-7 lead.
You know, the lead that lasted all of 3 minutes, 47 seconds.