Armando Salguero

Much work to do: Miami Dolphins prove they weren’t ready to compete in the playoffs

Miami Dolphins Jay Ajayi is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers Ross Cockrell 31, and Mike Mitchell 23, in the second quarter in the NFL Wild-Card Playoffs at Heinz Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, January 8, 2017.
Miami Dolphins Jay Ajayi is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers Ross Cockrell 31, and Mike Mitchell 23, in the second quarter in the NFL Wild-Card Playoffs at Heinz Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, January 8, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

PITTSBURGH, PA. -- This game was over early in the third quarter when Matt Moore fumbled for the second time in as many drives, letting what seemed like a comeback attempt to slip out of his hands and simply lay there on the frozen ground for a Pittsburgh Steelers defender to scoop up.

Today was a nightmare day for Moore. He threw an interception. He took a vicious hit that seemed to knock him out for the day but only kept him out one play. And he fumbled twice, reminding us of 2011 Moore when he fumbled 14 times in 13 games.

This day, in other words, pulled the mask off Moore as a starter. Those folks that argued for so long that Moore was better than Ryan Tannehill must surely understand now that they are dreaming.

And Moore’s day was in many way indicative of the Dolphins 30-12 loss to the Steelers.

This game, you see, unmasked the Dolphins for all their flaws and problems that they will carry into the offseason. The terrible linebacker play. The poor tackling. The uneven offensive line play that allowed five sacks.

All apparent on Sunday against the Steelers

Indeed, this game also exposed issues the Dolphins didn’t think they had before today.

Yes, that was left tackle Branden Albert turning in perhaps his worst half of football of the season in the first half when James Harrison had a sack, a quarterback hit, and caused one of Moore’s fumbles.

This game showed the defensive ends the Dolphins have spent so much money on -- Cameron Wake and Mario Williams -- and one they are thinking about rewarding with a big contract -- Andre Branch -- didn’t exactly demand attention on the big stage.

This game showed the Dolphins didn’t have a game-changer on the field against a Pittsburgh defense that had two or three of them.

(Please don’t doubt Le’Veon Bell is a game-changer. He rushed 29 times for 167 yards. Don’t doubt Antonio Brown is a game-changer. He caught five passes for 124 yards. Don’t doubt Ben Roethlisberger is a game-changer. He threw two touchdowns passes)

The Steelers defense doesn’t seem to have stars. But, boy, did they play like a solid unit. They seemed to have purpose to what they were doing.

Speaking of defense ... Miami defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has four teams wanting to interview him for their vacant head coaching job. Those teams that have received permission from the Dolphins to interview Joseph are Denver, San Diego, Buffalo and Los Angeles.

I like Vance Joseph. I believe he is head coach material.

But I don’t see how he’s ready to go. He has unfinished business in Miami after his defense basically melted down the past two months.

Think about it: The Dolphins gave up 30 or more points in six of their last seven games. There were times Sunday that the Miami defense seemed to have no chance against the Steelers. And Joseph was helpless to make it better.

Dolphins fans will read this and go one of two ways:

Some will say the Dolphins had too many injuries on defense. And that’s fair. Reshad Jones, Koa Misi and Isa Abdul-Quddus were out with injuries.

Other fans would encourage Joseph to leave because they feel the frustration of today.

I’d say to him, think this over because if you get your chance when you’re not ready, you will not succeed. And then you’ll get fired. And you then might become the next Scott Linehan, who took a coaching job too early and has never been able to get back in the head job interview rotation.

That, of course, is a concern for the coming week. Right now, we have to accept that the Dolphins simply fought and hobbled and crawled to the regular-season finish line, having a losing record against playoff teams.

But in the playoffs, against a Pittsburgh team that had one seven consecutive games and was mostly healthy?

Well, let’s just say the Dolphins have much work to do to succeed in the postseason.

  Comments