The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

FINS COAST TO ANOTHER LOSS

The Miami Dolphins took their struggles to the West Coast this week and not much was new.  Special teams once again made some key mistakes.  The offense was still pretty silent.  Only the defense fared well.  It all added up to a 27-13 loss, the Fins’ 5th loss in their last 6 games.   At 5-8, it is time to lay this team to rest.  After they return from San Francisco all that will be left to be done will be to coast to the end of the season which is mercifully only three weeks away.

In the first half, the defense kept the Fins in the game.  The half ended with the Niners’ holding a 6-3 lead thanks to a last-minute field goal.  The Fins should have felt good about things at that point, especially given that they were going to receive the second-half kickoff.  But the offense failed to get a first down after they received the kickoff and things went south thereafter.  Although the Fins’ defense forced San Francisco into what should have been a three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter, Marcus Thigpen coughed up a punt that he should not even have attempted to field and suddenly the Niners had new life with a first-and-goal.  Two plays later they took a 13-3 lead.

Thigpens’ boo-boo was not the special teams’ only gaffe of the day.  In the first half Jonathan Freeny seemingly downed a punt at the Niners’ 4-yard line, but then he foolishly kept going until his foot touched the goal line resulting in a touchback.  An obviously unhappy Brandon Fields was seen getting in his face after that miscue.  All Freeny had to do was drop the ball before he got to the goal line.  He surely won’t have fun listening to the coaches when they watch that play on tape.

Earlier in this his rookie season Ryan Tannehill had Dolfans optimistic about his future.  But the truth is he is beginning to look more and more like a question mark.  He may yet end up this team’s sorely needed franchise quarterback, but he is just not impressing anyone lately.  He is telegraphing his passes.  He is having problems with accuracy to the point that he is having difficulty completing half of his pass attempts.  He seems to go cold for long stretches of games.  He can’t seem to lead the team to touchdowns which is making it tough for the Fins to score a winnable number of points.  The bottom line is that is why the losses are piling up.   

Against the Forty-Niners, Tannehill was 17 of 33 for 150 yards.   Although his completion percentage was a meager 51.5%, one must consider that he started off with 10 completions in his first 13 attempts.  That meant he completed only 7 of his last 20 pass attempts.  In the second half, he was 7 of 19 for 46 yards.  Considering that this was a 3-point game at the half, he needed to step it up to lead his team to a much needed win.  Yet his 2.4 yards per second-half pass attempt was absolutely abysmal.  That kind of performance when the game is on the line is simply not going to get the job done.  Right now he is looking too much like a number of his 16 immediate predecessors and not at all like he may develop into their next franchise quarterback.

The defense was the bright spot once again, at least until it surrendered a late-game 50-yard touchdown run by Niners’ QB Colin Kaepernick.  Thanks to the defense the third quarter ended with the Niners holding a 13-6 lead, the difference being the gift handed to the Niners by Marcus Thigpen in the third quarter.  The defense was led by Cameron Wake who had 3 sacks to bring his season total to 14.  He is the only Dolphin other than Jason Taylor to have at least 14 sacks in more than one season. 

Unfortunately when defenses have to play so hard (because the offense never seems to give them any breathing room) they tend to break down in the fourth quarter, and they did, surrendering 2 touchdowns which put the game out of reach.  The Fins actually had a chance to tie the game after Anthony Fasano made a highlight-reel touchdown catch to close the gap to 20-13 and the defense then held San Francisco once again.  But the Fins’ offense could not muster a second touchdown that would have tied the game.  That’s when Colin Kaepernick’s TD run broke the Fins’ back.

And so the Fins’ tailspin continues.  A team that was once 3-3 is now 5-8 after they coasted to a loss yet again.

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