Here are Stephen Ross’ words from back in July:
“I like Joe Philbin very much. I believe the ingredients of being a winning organization is having consistency. I’m expecting Joe Philbin to be here a long time.”
And then the Dolphins owner added: “Every year, you want to see improvement.”
The only thing consistent about the Dolphins the past three years is their inability to win when it matters most. And year-over-year improvement? That dream probably died here Sunday.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
New England scored a franchise-record 24 points in the third quarter to smoke Miami 41-13, dropping the Dolphins to 7-7 and gravely imperiling Philbin’s future with the organization.
The Dolphins’ playoff hopes are now basically zero. They have been outscored 69-26 the past two weeks in two de facto playoff games.
“It’ll probably take a miracle to get into the playoffs,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said.
Meanwhile, the Patriots won their sixth AFC East title in a row. They also became the first team in NFL history with 11 division titles in 12 years
The only real drama left this season for the Dolphins: Will Ross fire his head coach?
Only two Dolphins coaches have survived after missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. One was George Wilson, who coached during the expansion era.
The other was Don Shula.
When Philbin met with reporters shortly after the Dolphins’ latest failure, he had the look of a beaten man. He also had zero appetite to talk big picture.
“Today we lost a game to the New England Patriots,” Philbin said. “There will be a time to evaluate how much progress we’ve made, but today we lost a game. The New England Patriots deserved to win.”
Are you at all concerned that you might not be the coach in 2015?
“I’m not concerned one bit,” he said.
He should be. The Dolphins’ defense — which allowed points on every New England possession in the second half but the last — has hit rock bottom.
And the offense has been lost ever since left tackle Branden Albert went down for the season.
The Patriots sacked Ryan Tannehill four times. They baited him into two turnovers. They limited Miami to 3.3 yards per carry. And they shut the Dolphins out in the second half.
In short, the Patriots returned the favor from Week1, when the Dolphins routed New England after halftime.
That was probably the season’s high-water mark for Miami. Ever since, the Dolphins are below .500. Ever since, the Patriots are 11-2.
“They kicked our [butt] in the second half,” center Mike Pouncey said. “We didn’t play well at all.”
Yet Pouncey, like several of his teammates, argued that Philbin shouldn’t be fired. When asked whether his coach will be back for a fourth year, he responded: “I hope. I think he’s a really good coach. He’s a guy who’s stuck with me in the good and bad. He’s not the problem, I can tell you that. ... The coaches have nothing to do with it.”
Still, coaches are much easier to fire than 53 players, and Ross must be aghast with what he has seen the past two weeks. The Dolphins have scored 42 points in December. The Patriots scored 41 points on Sunday.
Ross left Gillette Stadium without talking to reporters. He probably had a lot on his mind.
After all, he just watched his team have a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown (Jamie Collins had the block, Kyle Arrington had the 62-yard return.)
He had to sit through another loss to Tom Brady (the future Hall of Famer went 21 of 35 for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, improving to 12-1 all-time at home against Miami).
And he had to stomach a second half in which the Dolphins were outscored 27-0 and outgained 293-111.
For the third week in a row, Tannehill (29 of 47 for 346 yards, a touchdown and two picks) couldn’t generate offense. The Dolphins were 0 for 3 in the red zone and 3 of 16 on third downs.
“I think we’re a better team [than in 2013],” Tannehill said. “Obviously, it doesn’t feel like it right now.”
The only opinion that matters is that of Stephen Ross. We’ll soon find out if he feels the same way.