Thoughts and reaction from the Dolphins’ 22-7 loss to Cincinnati:
• The record, considering the daunting early-season schedule, isn’t surprising.
But the way the Dolphins have arrived at 1-3 is depressing, distressing and highly troubling.
Not only have the Dolphins not improved from last season’s 6-10 disaster, but they might have regressed.
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, victimized for another strip sack on Thursday, certainly has regressed.
Ryan Tannehill has seemingly regressed, if you use passer rating and interceptions as a gauge. (He has five picks in four games, compared with 12 all of last season).
The pass defense is worse, allowing passer ratings of 100 plus to three quarterbacks this season, including Andy Dalton’s 111.8 on Thursday.
Yes, the Dolphins were playing a playoff-caliber team on a short week, without arguably its two best offensive linemen (Mike Pouncey and Branden Albert) and two starting linebackers (Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins).
But there’s no excuse for the depth of this offensively futility, the inability to sustain any drives, the persistent failures on third down through one quarter of the season. The Dolphins offense essentially did nothing beyond the early 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills.
The Dolphins closed with eight first downs, just two more than the franchise record low for a game.
Tannehill (15 for 25 for 189 yards and an 80.3 passer rating) was sacked five times and hurried 10 times in 30 dropbacks.
Positives? The previously porous run defense stiffened, allowing 77 yards on the ground and 2.1 per carry. Jay Ajayi ran with purpose (six carries for 33 yards). And Reshad Jones had some impact plays, as usual. Bobby McCain had a sack. Kiko Alonso had eight tackles and some good moments.
The night began with the curious decision of benching Byron Maxwell and inserting Tony Lippett, who hadn’t played a defensive snap since preseason.
Lippett made strong plays in coverage on two third downs but was beaten for a 43-yard pass by AJ Green. And his inability to tackle Green on an earlier play resulted in a touchdown.
Midway through the third quarter, Green had outgained the Dolphins on his own. He closed with 10 catches for 173 yards. For the night, the Bengals outgained Miami, 362-222.
Cincinnati had an absurd 69-43 advantage in offensive plays. Through four games, the Dolphins offense has run 73 fewer plays than opposing offenses in those games.
And there’s this: The Dolphins have been outscored 116-52 in their last four full national TV telecasts. When the Dolphins are showcased nationally, they leave a stench that not even a cleaning crew can fix.
Not that they’re much better overall, now 68-96 over the past decade-plus and 1-3 this season, with home games against Tennessee and Pittsburgh looming.
Some thoughts from Adam Gase:
• “We have to go back to work” and determine “whether it’s schematically, players, decision making, play calling. I put us in a couple of bad spots with some of the play calls. We have to figure out what we do well and start leaning on that a little bit more. It’s literally somebody different every time.”
• “What makes me feel terrible, to be honest with you, is they [the defense] laid it out there and we didn’t show up on the other side of the ball.”
• On Terrence Fede’s roughing the punter: “It was a bad mistake, costly mistake from us. Coming from Fede shocked me more than anything. It was a painful penalty for us to swallow.” That penalty led to a Bengals field goal, making the score 22-7.
• On the offensive line: “Some of the plays were not ideal. Ryan has got to step up on the fumble. It’s everybody taking their turn. I don’t think it really mattered who was out there. We couldn’t get out of our own way.”
• On Tannehill’s performance: “Entire offense, we struggled. He missed a couple things early. He was behind on a throw to Jarvis Landry early. When things started going bad, you want him to find that one throw to where he can spring us loose. It’s hard, when you play that position, it’s tough. When you’re a quarter of an inch off, and the ball’s behind, they’re going to play tight defense. There were some good things he did. He’s going to come back to work, try to figure out a way to get this turned around.”
• On benching Maxwell: “We just felt like we wanted to give Tony a shot. It was a decision we decided to make as a coaching staff. We want Byron to keep practicing, figuring out a way to get better. We’ll decide who the best group is for that week. We’ll see how that goes from here on out.”
• Thoughts from Tannehill: “One of the worst performances I’ve seen from our offense in a long time. Couldn’t get anything going in the passing game. No consistency. Not enough execution. Too many mistakes. It was bad. We have to get it fixed soon, and by soon I mean Monday. No more excuses. It has to be important to everyone.... It’s not one person or one group. It’s everyone, starting with me. We can’t have the mental mistakes. We have to give ourselves a chance by being in the right spot.
“We’ve got to get this thing fixed quickly. We’ve got to see what guys bring to the table. It’s squarely on our shoulders to find ways to move the ball, make the plays.”
On the first quarter of the season offensively, compared with his expectations: “It’s nowhere close. I still have high expectations for this offense. I don’t think it’s inachievable at this point. We have to give ourselves a chance. We have the playmakers. We just need to get first downs, execute.”
On his own performance: “There were some good things and some things I wish I had back. There were some opportunities I would like to have back.”
He said he should have “stepped up” in the pocket on his fumble.
• Ndamukong Suh: “We’re 1-3. We’ve dug ourselves a hole. Go back to work on Monday and go from there.”
• NFL Net’s Steve Mariucci: Gase “has got his work cut out for him. He benches Byron Maxwell. Don’t know why. He has two young corners trying to cover AJ Green. They just didn’t match up well at all. Could have been worse. Should have been worse.”
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