Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler talks about 20-6 loss against the Jets
Good teams lose. We know that because many teams with losses win championships. Only one team has gone through a season without losing and I don’t have to remind you who that was.
But here’s the thing: Good teams lose but then they do not allow one loss to turn to two, and three, and four.
Good teams patch the bleeding. They fix things quickly.
They adjust. They improvise. They overcome.
So now we see whether the 2017 Miami Dolphins are going to be a good team. Or whether they’re going to be one of those other teams that allow failure to grow -- like a small hole that gets bigger and becomes a grave.
So here we are already looking ahead to New Orleans (at least in this post) and wondering if the Dolphins can fix what is wrong.
The first thing this team must fix is the level of delusion within the organization. That’s right, delusion.
I sat there and listened all spring while players were saying how great this guy or that guy is. How talented the team is. Players talked of how talented the locker room is. I heard the players and coaches talk about how many playmakers there were on the roster.
And Sunday, after the Dolphins got thoroughly beaten, there it was again -- delusion.
“That was a good defense we saw but I believe we’re a good offense,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “We have a lot of talent.”
And that kind of talk is fine in the spring when there are no facts to confirm or refute the statement. But now the facts are starting to roll in. And those facts say that right now, the Miami Dolphins do not have a good offense by any measure.
The Dolphins have scored two touchdowns in two games. That is not good offense.
On Sunday, the Dolphins did not gain a first down rushing the football. That is not good offense.
The offense was one-of-12 on third down conversions and that’s a paltry eight percent conversion percentage. And if you argue that was only one game, I remind you even in victory over Los Angeles, the Dolphins converted 5 of 13 or 38 percent of third downs. So that is not very good overall.
I’m making this point to draw a comparison to last year’s team. Last year, I cannot tell you how many times coaches and personnel people and players told me things like, “We’re not good enough to win just by showing up. We have to work at it really, really hard to win.”
The 2016 Dolphins knew they weren’t very good. But they got good results because they outworked the other team during the week and then played harder than the opponents for a longer time on Sunday.
Players were talking after this loss about having a bad week of practice. Cutler talked about how some guys got tired because the second half was 33 passes and only four runs.
None of that suggests this team worked hard last week, played hard Sunday, and could outlast its opponent.
So this team needs to adjust its mindset. Forget how good you think you are. Think about how awful you are if you don’t practice hard, play hard and finish strong.
Here are some other things we’re starting to see that need to change course:
Suddenly the 2017 offseason is not quite looking like the boon everyone imagined it to be.
First round pick Charles Harris contributed an assisted tackle in 32 snaps this game. That’s it. Third round pick Cordrea Tankersley was inactive for the second week in a row. Backup cornerback Alterraun Verner, hailed as a find and said to be competing for a starting job up until the start of the regular season, got beat for a 69-yard touchdown his second of nine plays he was on the field.
Tight end Julius Thomas caught three passes for 16 yards. I’m not saying that’s bad but by comparison, the Jets put a defensive tackle in the game on offense for the first time in his career. And the defensive lineman caught a pass for 15 yards.
Cutler was excellent in Week 2 and seemed overmatched in Week 3.
Obviously, linebacker Lawrence Timmons was on suspension and the team is getting nothing out of him. But what I read about Timmons in a report by CBSSports.com is troubling.
That report stated, in part, Timmons went back to Pittsburgh when Miami players were released to go off on their own when a Week 1 bye was announced. Timmons, the report said, not only went to Pittsburgh but showed up at a Steelers practice and watched from the sideline. And later he told former teammates that leaving Pittsburgh and signing with Miami had been a mistake.
1. Why the Dolphins haven’t already filed tampering charges is beyond me. The Steelers allowed a player under contract to the Dolphins to watch their practices and be within their facility. That is tampering.
2. The Timmons signing is looking worse every day.
So when does someone the Dolphins added this offseason show up as a consistent plus for the Dolphins?
And I can almost hear the echoes coming from Davie now.
“It’s only one game.”
“The season is young.”
Those are both true.
But this also is true ...
The Dolphins have no personality right now. On offense, they want to be a no-huddle attacking offense but we’re seeing them run into the same problems of a year ago in that no-huddle is getting no results. We don’t know if this is going to be a running team that tries to have the quarterback manage the game (it worked last season) or if this is going to be an offense that asks Cutler to sling the rock (mistake).
On defense, I was under the impression the secondary is going to play press-man on the corners -- which is the reason the team wants big cornerbacks. And yet I see Byron Maxwell bailing out and playing five yards off the receiver all the time. And that receiver is open so often it frustrates.
So are the Dolphins going to play press-man or not?
What is this team’s personality?
Finally, we are early in the season. But people should be alarmed about this game because the early part of the schedule is supposed to be the easier part. As I wrote yesterday, New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown had not won an NFL game since 2015. He was 2-22 dating back to 2014.
And McCown lit up the Dolphins.
And if McCown can light up the Dolphins, what’s going to happen next week when Miami plays Drew Brees? And later this season against Matt Ryan and a couple of times against Tom Brady, who by the way threw five touchdown passes without an interception on Sunday?
It won’t get any easier than it was supposed to be Sunday. And Sunday didn’t turn out to be much fun.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero