The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

PLAYOFFS, DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH DOLFANS

Just one week after getting totally embarrassed by the cellar-dweller Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins once again found themselves needing a win to get into the NFL Playoffs and instead got embarrassed by the New York Jets.  They got beat in every phase of the game, losing 20-7, by a team they destroyed just 4 weeks ago, 23-3.  And so, instead of winning these two winnable games to reach the playoffs, the Dolphins played back-to-back games of heartless, gutless football.  Unfortunately, Dolfans have seen this movie before.  Dolfans have learned that when it comes to wishing their team makes the playoffs, don’t hold your breath.

Just as against the Bills, the Fins’ offense was impotent against the Jets.   At least this week they managed to score once.  But scoring once doesn’t cut it, after all, this is American football.  Seven total points in 2 weeks will almost inevitably get you 2 losses.   And so it did with the Fins who now must live with what could have been until they take the field again next season.

Coming off of the defeat of the Patriots just 3 Sundays ago things were looking up for the Fins.  QB Ryan Tannehill was looking like he really was the long-term answer.  But now the questions have reappeared thanks to consecutive performances that can best be described as horrific.  Against the Bills Tannehill could have blamed the relentless pressure in a game where he was sacked 7 times and harassed a number of other times.  But the Jets did not manage to sack him a single time.  He simply did not perform well.  He was 20 of 40 (50%) for 204 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs.  His 42.1 QB Rating was even worse than the embarrassing 45.6 he had against the Bills.  With the playoffs on the line, Tannehill failed miserably.    He went from looking like the Messiah to just looking like a mess in the span of 3 weeks.

Even when Tannehill found his receiving corps they did not help out very much.  There were too many drops for sure, but none hurt more than Mike Wallace’s drop in the end zone which could have tied the score at 14 mid-way in the third quarter.  It was clearly a pass he should have caught.  Unfortunately, on the very next play Wallace was targeted once again, but this time he fell  while the ball was in the air allowing Jets’ rookie Dee Milliner to intercept Tannehill’s pass.  Amazingly, the Fins’ $60 million free agent cost the team dearly on consecutive plays.  For the day, Wallace was targeted 12 times and managed a mere 25 yards receiving (on 5 catches).  Not the kind of production a team needs from its number one receiver in such a big game.

In this season-ending game, the Fins were outgained on the ground (154 to 92), in the air (220 to 204) and in the all-important turnover category (3 to 0).  It was the first time this season the Fins did not get a single turnover.  No NFL team had ever gone an entire season with at least 1 turnover in every game.  The 2013 missed their chance to make some history.

And so, the Fins go yet another season without making the playoffs.  At 8-8 they are once again mired in mediocrity.  With all the free agent signings last off-season, in the final analysis it did not get them anywhere.  It will now be another off-season trying to figure out how to right the ship.  Quite frankly, when the battle for the 2014 NFL Playoffs comes down to the nitty gritty, Dolfans would be well advised not to hold their breath!

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