Armando Salguero

Horrible but not season-defining display by the Miami Dolphins

Let’s take care of the big picture first: Amid what is bound to be much hand-wringing and fear that this season has hit an impenetrable wall I remind you this loss does not end nor crash the season.

One ugly, disappointing, unacceptable performance from the Miami Dolphins at the end of October does not define the season even when the team laid the egg on national television.

This 40-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens does not quash playoff hopes nor derail the Dolphins from ultimately delivering in November and December.

Obviously it doesn’t help. Let’s admit that. This loss was eye-opening in how overmatched and unprepared the Dolphins seemed against an opponent that started the game with a 3-4 record.

But I remind you the Dolphins came here last season and were similarly dispatched by the Ravens. That 38-6 debacle proved the Dolphins were young and a still unfinished product. But it didn’t keep the Dolphins from extending their season into the playoffs.

So there’s that.

There’s still hope.

But this loss is not without meaning. It is not unimportant.

This loss should once and for all end the Miami fan base’s love affair with backup quarterback Matt Moore.

Moore was incapable of delivering any heroics Thursday night. He was a target behind broken and often inept pass protection. He was often off target. And he threw not one but two pick six interceptions -- one to, of all things, a middle linebacker.

So the Matt Moore fan club needs to realize he is a solid backup quarterback and a game competitor. But when Jay Cutler is healthy or even capable of playing again -- perhaps as early as next game against Oakland -- Moore will return to the bench because he’s good in short spurts but he’s not the answer for Miami’s offensive woes this or any year.

By the way, some geniuses on social media Thursday night began mocking the Dolphins because they had Moore out there against the Ravens instead of, get this, Colin Kaepernick.

Yeah, Kaepernick, who was benched in San Francisco last year before helping that team win two whole games all season, would be the remedy for Miami’s offensive woes.

Yeah, the #ImwithKap crowd would have you believe Fidel Castro fanboy Kaepernick would have been an awesome addition in Miami.

Gag.

Moving on ... There are bigger, more important, more pertinent issues the Dolphins now have to address during this time off.

“We have to reset,” Gase said. “We have to take this time off that we have, because this really kind of our bye week and kind of re-focus our mind, get as healthy as we can, and when we come back, be ready to work.

“We have a lot of football left and we’ve won enough game so far to at least put ourselves in position where we get a chance to keep competing. We just have to find a way to get better.”

Thursday’s loss shows us the Dolphins must get better but it casts doubt on whether they can improve because they’ve not improved to any considerable degree week over week -- particularly on offense. And comparing this loss to the whipping here last year, they’re not improving year over year.

And the finger should be pointing to the offense for that.

This offense doesn’t have good enough personnel up front. That’s not an opinion. Look at the tape of this game. It’s obvious.

This offense also doesn’t have smart enough players.

That’s right. The players on this offense are lacking in the football smarts department. I’m not saying they’re dumb off the field. I’m saying these guys are making mistakes we’ve seen over and over and over.

Consider this: The Dolphins have run the same offense since coach Gase arrived in February 2016. The players on the offense, most of whom have been around the entire time Gase has been coach, started practicing the plays Gase runs in the spring of 2016.

And here we are on the eve of November 2017, still running those same plays, and some of these players are still getting them wrong.

Sometimes running backs still miss blocking assignments.

Sometimes offensive linemen and tight ends miss blocking assignments.

Sometimes receivers run routes no one expects.

It’s not only not perfect after all this time, it is rare when someone doesn’t make a mistake.

The problem is so acute Gase several times this year has trimmed his offense. He’s made it easier to understand. Less complex.

The problem with doing that is when the offense gets easier for the offensive players to understand, it becomes easier for defensive players and opposing coaches to decipher.

And you wonder why the unit entered Thursday night’s game against Baltimore ranked 32nd (yeah, dead last) in points scored?

This was a prime-time game featuring a Miami offense not yet ready for the national stage. So things look really bad.

But season defining? In late October?

Not quite.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: s@ArmandoSalguero

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