Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are about to face the one team in worse shape than they are

Think the Dolphins are a mess?

They’re the model of stability compared to their Week 6 opponents.

As Miami players returned to team HQ on Monday to begin work on their fifth shot at a first win, 1,000 miles north, the boss of a franchise in even worse shape was saying things no one really believed.

The Washington Redskins on Monday fired yet another coach — this time Jay Gruden — and it was up to Redskins team president Bruce Allen to explain why.

A post-mortem usually scheduled for January arrived in October.

The biggest news: Failed NFL and college coach Bill Callahan takes over on an interim basis.

He will lead the Redskins on Sunday against the Dolphins in the Battle of the Beatens. The loser will have the inside track on the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft. The Redskins are slight favorites to win Sunday’s game.

The teams aren’t that far apart, but the Dolphins were supposed to be awful. The Redskins were trying to win in 2019, and yet have lost all five of their games.

“The culture is actually damn good,” Allen insisted.

Which led many to ask: What would it look like if the culture were bad?

Safe to say, then, that Sunday will be a nice change of pace for the Dolphins. Compared to the Redskins, they’re functioning at a high level, with a head coach and general manager who will both almost certainly be here beyond 2019, regardless of the team’s record.

But no one wants to go 0-16, and for the Dolphins, there might be no better chance to get a win than at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens this Sunday.

“He’s a very good coach,” Flores said of Callahan, who was the top guy in Oakland for two seasons last decade. “For us, we’ll go about our business as we normally do. Obviously, he’s got a run-game background, so we’ll — we’ll always do our due diligence from a run-game standpoint. They’ve got good backs, they’ve got good receivers, they’ve got a good O-line. They’re good defensively. We’ll just go about our business the way we normally do.”

Hopefully better for the Dolphins.

Because what they have normally done has gotten them beat by 137 points in the season’s first four games. And those losses look worse as time goes on. Miami’s first four opponents are 9-7 against teams not named the Dolphins. And four of those nine wins belong to the Patriots.

So Dolphins coaches busied themselves with much needed self-assessment during the bye week. There was a lot to cover.

“The first thing that comes to mind is tackling defensively,” Flores said. “It’s something we spent some time on last week just in practice and then going through the evaluation. That’s something we can definitely do better. Breaking tackles offensively — blocking, defeating blocks, catching the ball, getting the ball out a little bit more defensively. So a lot of areas. We spent some time on that last week, and we’ll continue to focus in on those this week as well.”

The glass-half-full perspective for the Dolphins is the season would look much different if not for “eight to 10 plays a game that could’ve gone a different way.”

So Flores’ message to his team, upon its return to work Monday?

“Every play counts, every play is important.”

Especially now, with only 12 chances left to avoid a winless season.

“If you don’t show up to play, you can get beat on any given Sunday by any given team,” said Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake. “That is what this league is built upon. ... When you’re in the situation where we are, all you can do is show up and work.”

Related stories from Miami Herald