The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

PATRIOTS REIGN, FINS SEARCH

A season of hope that began in September with a glorious win over the New England Patriots saw all hope disappear in December thanks to a crushing 41-13 loss to those same Patriots.  Unlike the game last September, there would be no thrilling comeback in the second half as the Patriots manhandled the Fins in the second half scoring 27 points while holding the Fins scoreless.  The Patriots will head to the playoffs next month while the Fins will head home after winding up the season against the Jets on December 28.  Meanwhile, the Patriots’ reign continues as they wrapped up their 6th consecutive AFC East title.  The Fins, on the other hand, continue to search for answers.  It’s getting clearer and clearer that the Fins’ search will include a head coaching search.

The Fins actually outplayed the Patriots in the first half, outgaining the Patriots 271-102.  But they still trailed at halftime 14-13, with all 14 of the Patriots’ points coming off of turnovers.  While the Patriots’ offense got going in the second half, Tannehill and Company went ice cold.  Quite simply that is what caused this game to get so out of hand.

Ryan Tannehill had a very unusual day in certain respects.  He was 29 of 47 (61.7%) for 346 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.  This all added up to a 73.5 QB Rating.  His total yardage was considerably higher than his 234 per game average coming into the game.  His lone TD pass of 32 yards was the first TD pass of the season over 21 yards.  On the day he completed 5 passes over 20 yards.  The long completions were most unusual for Tannehill.  However, true to form, the Fins typically lose when Tannehill’s QB Rating is in the 70’s and so they did against New England.  

The difference between these two teams is easy to see.  However, that difference was most evident in their respective ability to score touchdowns when advancing the ball inside their offensive 10-yard line.  In 3 goal-to-goal situations the Patriots put up 3 TDs.  Meanwhile, the Fins could not punch the ball into the end zone in either of their 2 trips inside the 10.  The inability to score by 7s has been a consistent issue for the Fins.

December has not been kind to Joe Philbin and the Dolphins.  In his 3-year tenure with the Fins, they are 6-8 in the month of December. Good, well-coached teams play their best football in December.  In the Philbin era, the Dolphins clearly have not played well.  Sadly, they are plainly not a good, well-coached team. 

All this adds up to a team that is out of the playoff hunt with 2 games left in the regular season.  It also sets the stage for the Fins to start the search for what will assuredly be their 5th head coaching hire in the last 10 years.  If anything highlights a team’s lack of success, it’s averaging a new head coach every other year for an entire decade.  Hopefully, the coaching search that lies ahead will be more successful in finding an answer for what ails these Dolphins.

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