There are lots of excuses the Dolphins and their fans can proffer for the dismal results of the past season, especially after such lofty expectations before the season began. There were a lot of new faces on the roster and a more than normal spate of injuries that required players to change positions or give way to their backups, resulting in constant inconsistencies in the level of play, especially on the offensive line.
On the bright side of the coin is the fact that Tua is a very good quarterback and should be able to return next season. That will please his speedy receivers and make for a more composed offensive performance by the team.
The defense has also demonstrated that it is, and should continue to be, a dominant force, especially when injuries are healed and more depth is at hand.
Clouding this view of the Dolphins is the reality that, if I were the spouse or parent of Tua, I would counsel him to find a new profession because one more hard shot to the head could end his life or paralyze him for years. The back-up QB’s probably are not the answer either, so the team needs to draft well or make a significant acquisition at that position. The only real issue with the defense is that, whatever the reason, the deep backs seem to get outrun a lot by the opposition’s receivers. Again, injuries may be the cause but, whatever it is, this needs to be addressed.
Stopping there, the facts bode well for next season, with a few tweaks here and there, and a positive solution to the quarterback position. Of greater concern, however, are several other issues: the offensive line needs significant improvement and will not allow the team to be successful unless the problem is recognized and solved. Quickly. Special teams were also dismal, permitting long runbacks of punts and kickoffs too often and not returning the favor when they are in the offensive position. This was a glaring weakness in several games.
I hate to mention it, but as the season wore on it there appeared to be weaknesses more attributable to the coaching staff rather than the players. There were too many penalties, too many missed tackles, and poor special teams play, all leading to the conclusion that this was not a very disciplined team. But there were other telling signs. Most professional teams sharpen their play calling after halftime to react to the game plan evidenced by the opposition during the first half of play. The Dolphins, on the other hand, seemed to continue with their original plan which played right into the hands of the opposition which adjusted its plan to compensate for any successes the Dolphins had in the first half. That doesn’t show much creativity.
We hope Tua will return but, even if he does, some retooling seems necessary here as well. It appeared too often that Tua became more fixated on running the passing play called rather than taking what the defenses were willing to give up. The result was that he threw into double and sometimes triple coverages, ending up in overthrows and interceptions.
Then there are the intangibles. Creativity. It appeared lacking to the point that opposing coaches seemed prepared to rebuff the offensive choices on pivotal fourth downs and goal-to-go plays. There was also the too frequent rush to get plays off before a delay of game penalty was called, either because it took the coaching staff too long to call the play in or the QB could not communicate the call properly in the time allotted. Finally, and this is a pet peeve of mine, too often the offensive line showed motion before the ball was snapped, resulting in stifling penalties. This lack of discipline cost the team numerous times during the season.
None of this is irreversible, but it all needs to start being addressed now. Let’s not let our hopes be spiked by the media and then let down hard by the team’s performance. There is a reason why the final Bills game was the Dolphins’ first playoff game since 2016 and for the team to have failed to win one since the year 2000. The clock continues to tick!