Armando Salguero

Who are the Miami Dolphins? The mistakes against Tampa Bay told us exactly

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) fumbles the ball after a multi lateral passing play at the end of the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Adarius Glanton (53) picks up the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to seal the game as the Miami Dolphins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sun., Nov. 19, 2017.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) fumbles the ball after a multi lateral passing play at the end of the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Adarius Glanton (53) picks up the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to seal the game as the Miami Dolphins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sun., Nov. 19, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Dolphins had 17 penalties and five turnovers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. So, yeah, in losing their fourth consecutive game the Dolphins had 22 significant screw-ups.

And only 20 points.

More mistakes than points.

This isn’t the preseason anymore, folks. This isn’t a first outing of the year after which the coach and players can demand patience to fix their mistakes.

This error-prone, undisciplined, interception-throwing performance came in Week 11. And it speaks to what the 2017 Miami Dolphins are.

They may tell you they have more talent than they’re showing. And they may promise to work harder this week to correct the mistakes and perform better next time out. In fact, that’s exactly what they did:

“No one likes losing, so we got to figure out a way to get a W,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “You look at the statistics. When people have penalties starting on a drive or throughout a drive, it’s pretty difficult to put points on the board and that’s what the game is about.

“We got to eliminate the penalties if we want to put points on the board and win games.”

I would accept this if this game had been played and lost as the season-opener when it was originally scheduled. But with six games left in the season, the rationalizations and promises to fix the issues are just noise.

Sunday’s 30-20 loss to Tampa Bay was the most embarrassing and unforgivable loss of the season. And it was that not because of the score or the frustrating manner in which Miami lost, but because anyone with eyes knows the Bucs are bad.

That was a terrible team with a backup journeyman quarterback that came to Hard Rock and whipped the Dolphins.

The Bucs stink.

And so the Dolphins stink more right now. We all see that clearly.

It would be wise for the Dolphins to finally see it. Because that’s who they are. That’s what they are.

If the Dolphins see this they can dispense with the illusion that they have talent worth nurturing, worth keeping longterm. That illusion gets exposed for the faulty thinking it is when you dispassionately look at the Tampa Bay loss and, yes, the three losses that came immediately before it .

The Dolphins are a team with a broken offensive line that delivers false starts almost as often as they open big holes. That unit must be revamped this offseason. The Dolphins need at least three new quality players up there next offseason.

Miami also needs to find a quality offensive line coach that can make the individuals into a cohesive unit because they aren’t that now and they weren’t that under former offensive line coach and selfie video connoisseur Chris Foerster.

The Dolphins might also be smart to seriously consider whether their rebuilt defense needs, well, more rebuilding. Look, that unit just got shredded by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who posted a 100.6 quarterback rating.

Yes, they had a nice third quarter when they seemed to shut down the Tampa Bay offense. But where were they in the first half when Fitzpatrick threw two touchdowns and was not sacked?

Where were they when the game was on the line and the Bucs moved 58 yards in 2:50 to kick the game-winning field goal with four seconds left to play?

Where was the big play from Cameron Wake? He’s a part-time pass rusher now.

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Miami Dolphins Reshad Jones (20) misses a tackle as Tampa Bay Buccaneers Doug Martin (22) runs up field in second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Nov. 19, 2017. CHARLES TRAINOR JR ctrainor@miaiherald.com

Where was first-round draft pick Charles Harris? He had one assisted tackle Sunday.

When is a starting cornerback going to come up with an interception? Neither of Miami’s young corners have one this season.

And don’t even get me started on Lawrence Timmons who on Sunday got fewer snaps while backup Stephone Anthony got a chance to play on passing downs.

Timmons was supposed to be part of the big defensive overhaul last spring. Seven months later, Timmons looks more like a player who might not be around next season than someone worth keeping.

Now comes the part of the column where I’m supposed to rip the offense. Ready? Well, this offense is ... baffling.

I understood that offense more when it simply couldn’t move the football. But on Sunday the Dolphins had 365 passing yards. Matt Moore had 282 of those yards in the second half alone.

Stills caught seven passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

Jarvis Landry had six catches for 95 yards.

(Yes, DeVante Parker was a ghost and isn’t playing up to his potential).

But the point is the Dolphins moved the ball. They converted 6 of 13 third downs. The stats say the Dolphins had good moments on offense.

And yet only 20 points. And another loss amid 17 penalties and five turnovers.

That’s so disappointing. Because that’s who the 2017 Miami Dolphins are.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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