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Should old acquaintance be forgot....
The Dolphins, by which I mean Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross, got a good look at Santa's leftover naughty list and fired head coach Adam Gase on New Year's Eve. Said ESPN.com:
Gase couldn't escape the mediocrity that has followed the Dolphins since 2000. He finished 23-25 [.479], with his lone playoff game being a wild-card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Miami was 7-9 this season.
To be fair, Gase's record wasn't any worse than his two immediate predecessors (Philbin, 24-28 [.461], and Sparano, 29-33 [.468]), but he wasn't any better either, which was particularly damning for someone who was supposed to be such a great offensive genius.
The biggest indictment of Gase was that he often fielded an anemic offense despite being thought of as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer when he got the job. The Dolphins finished 24th or worse in total offense in all three seasons under Gase, including 31st in 2018.
There's anemic, and then there's Adam Gase' offense. In 2018, the Dolphins weren't just the worst AFC team in total yards, they were also the worst AFC team at yards per game, first downs, third-down conversion percentage, and field goals attempted. On the positive side, they were the best in the AFC in punts attempted and total punting yards!
As surprising as it might seem in hindsight, Ross hired Gase to turn around the under-performing Ryan Tannehill in 2016 after Gase had performed a similar "miracle" with Peyton Manning. You read that right. Gase was Manning's offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013, and somehow he got credit for Peyton's record-setting comeback there, never mind that Peyton was already one of the all-time greats before the neck injury that slowed him down for the 2011-2012 seasons. The way people talk about Gase, you'd think he performed Peyton's surgery himself.
Anyway, whether or not Gase had any ability to improve his players before he came to the Dolphins is a moot point. In Miami, inability to recognize and develop talent is an infectious disease.
Frankly, I feel sorry for whoever comes to town next.
I've had a lot of bad things to say about the Miami Dolphins as of late. Enough that after today's game, friend Keith sent me this text:
Dude. Stop complaining. Ya'll won for fucks sake.
Yes, we did! With the longest play from scrimmage (69-yards) to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter by any NFL team since the 1970 merger. (I know that's a long qualifier, but I'll take what I can get.)
Watch it on YouTube.
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I think maybe I've had it with the Miami Dolphins for the season. Sure, they won today, but not really through any act of their own. The Jets were just worse. Each team managed a mere two field goals, and the Dolphins prevailed when their less-than-stellar defense returned one of the Jets' four interceptions for a touchdown. Ugh.
For reference, the Phins managed only 7 total first downs and 168 total yards. It was bad. Really bad and not remotely entertaining. I could have spent those four hours... well, doing almost anything else.
Next week, maybe I will.
Follow-up to yesterday's post: Dolphins 23, Texans 42. (The game wasn't as close as that score. I hope you had something better to do with your time than watch it.) In the Adam Gase era, the Dolphins have been outscored 23-82 on Thursday nights.
Since I talked about it at length yesterday, I should note that Brock Osweiler completed 57% of his pass attempts with 1 interception and zero touchdowns. (And the officials took away a fumble returned for a touchdown on a technicality.) His final QB rating for the game was 65.3 out of a maximum 158.3. For comparison, Texans QB Deshaun Watson finished with a 156.0.
As expected, the Dolphins are now 4-4 and on pace for another in a long string of mediocre seasons. Yawn. I'd wish them better luck next year, but we already know that isn't really going to matter.
Kicking off week 8 of the 2018 NFL season tonight, the Miami Dolphins will play the Houston Texans. Starting at quarterback for the Dolphins will be Brock Osweiler. This is notable because on March 9, 2016, the Texans paid Osweiler $72 million to be their quarterback. Exactly one year later, the Texans paid the Browns to take Osweiller off their hands. Then the Browns cut him. A QB of that calibre has to end up a Dolphin.
Osweiller gets the start for the Phins because oft-hurt Ryan Tannehill is hurt again. Tannehill has started 5 games in the past two seasons, and the writing may be on the wall. Tannehill has already started twice as many games for Miami as any other quarterback since Dan Marino, and his record isn't exactly sterling.
Tannehill's record is 40-42. The quarterback with the second-most starts is Jay Fielder — does anyone else outside Miami remember him? — at 36-23. For comparison, Marino was 147-93. *sigh* (And, since we're here, I might as well remind everyone once again that the Dolphins, under Head Coach Nick Saban, passed on signing free agent Drew Brees in 2006 because of medical questions about Brees' reconstructed shoulder. Brees has only gone 117-79 since, missing exactly 2 games over those 13 years. *double sigh*)
So with fragile Tannehill looking at the tail end of his mediocre career, why isn't there someone in the wings ready to take his place? Osweiller is obviously not a long-term solution, and the third QB on the team depth-chart, David Fales, was shown the door by the Chicago Bears who let him attempt only 2 passes during a 2017 season in which they won only 3 games. The problem here, obviously, is with whoever is in charge of player personnel for the Dolphins. According to his contract, that executive for the Dolphins isn't GM Mike Tannenbaum but Head Coach Adam Gase.
Giving this sort of power to the Head Coach might seem like a good idea after years of Jeff Ireland' blind eye for talent, but maybe Gase isn't the right man for that job, either. It was Gase's decision to trade star running back and "locker room cancer" Jay Ajayi to the Eagles (where he won a Super Bowl) for a fourth-round draft pick. It was Gase's decision to trade star receiver Jarvis Landry to the Browns for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks. And it was Gase's decision to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement to do whatever it was he did last season. If there's no quarterback of the future on Miami's roster, that's Gase's decision, too.
Yeah, I'll be watching tonight as the Dolphins struggle to stay afloat in the race to the postseason, but all I see in the team's future is more of the same old canned tuna.
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I don't want to alarm anyone, but the Georgia Bulldogs have started the season 4-0 and the Miami Dolphins are up to 3-0.
Armageddon may be closer than we thought.
The NFL has reported that today's season-opening contest between the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins was "the longest game since the 1970 [NFL/AFL] merger."
The game was 7 hours and 8 minutes long, counting weather delays, and I'm happy to say that the Dolphins won. Seven hours into most seasons, the Dolphins are already eliminated from playoff contention.
ESPN adds that it was also the first season-opening game since the merger in which both teams had kick-return touchdowns. In fact, that rare feat has only occurred only 17 times in NFL history, period. I can't imagine that this says anything about either team's chances at having a successful season, but it sure was fun, and that's not a word I usually associate with Dolphins' football.
Here's to 2018!
As if playing for the Miami Dolphins wasn't bad enough, wide receiver Jarvis Landry — the 2017 NFL leader in receptions — has been traded to the Cleveland Browns. Ouch.
Yes, Landry has a tendency to be a diva, but not more so than other players at his position. Yes, Landry has a tendency to commit penalties, but other players on the team were much worse. Yes, Landry's yards per catch were low, but his quarterback was Jay Cutler. The team's second leading receiver, Kenny Stills, had almost twice the average yards per catch on half as many receptions, but it's not Landry's fault that every-other pass to him was thrown behind the line of scrimmage.
Landry's true sin was wanting to be paid what he was worth. That's something the Dolphins' front office won't tolerate. That's why they got rid of Jay Ajayi last year. (Poor Ajayi was booted straight to the Philadelphia Eagles who only managed to go on to win the Super Bowl. What a bust!) That's why they'll soon be unloading Ndamukong Suh. Rumor has it that Ryan Tannehill — the team's highest-paid remaining player — will soon be shown the door for a similar reason. Ye gods, it's a housecleaning!
Sadly, it looks like another rebuilding year is in the cards for the 'Fins. Current GM Chris Grier must believe that when players say they love the game so much they'd play for free, they really will play for free. He certainly wasn't willing to open his wallet for either Ajayi or Landry despite both far outperforming their rookie contracts. That sets a pretty bad precedent for future rookies.
Don't get too attached to Miami, draft class of 2018. If you play well, you'll only be asked to choose between taking a pay cut or packing your bags. If you're lucky like Ajayi, maybe you'll get traded to Super Bowl-bound teams.
In 2005, I watched Super Bowl 39 between the Eagles and Patriots at my father's house in Buford, Georgia, with my father and brother on Dad's large (26") CRT TV. We were cheering for the Eagles because they were Trey's favorite team (and, so far as I know, still are).
I don't recall feeling much drama in that game. I was confident that the Patriots would find a way to repeat as Super Bowl champions. (This would be their 3rd win in 4 years.) After the game, Trey claimed that he also expected the loss to the reigning champions, and that it didn't bother him to come so close to winning a Super Bowl only to lose to a great team.
I think he was lying.
Tonight, in the Super Bowl 52 rematch, the Eagles were finally the better team. Congratulations, Trey. You don't have to lie anymore.
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I haven't dumped on the Miami Dolphins enough this year. Let me start correcting that.
Yesterday before the NFL trade dealine, the Miami Dolphins traded their starting running back, Jay Ajayi, to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round pick. (True story: they wanted to trade their best wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, but they couldn't find a taker willing to pay the asking price, presumably a 3rd round pick.) Ajayi had three 200+ yard games last year and ran for a total of 1,272 yards. For comparison, Jay Cutler passed for only 1,059 in 2016. Given that Cutler no longer has a running back to help him anymore, that number is going to have to get a lot better fast. That doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon.
You may have had the misfortune of seeing last Thursday's "game" in which the Dolphins were beaten 40-0. That wasn't because Cutler was out with broken ribs, and it wasn't because Ajayi forgot the playbook. It was because the offensive line played offensively. Who saw that coming? I mean, it's not like the offensive line coach quit two weeks earlier after being caught doing cocaine and models. Oh, wait. Yes, it was exactly like that.
But that was just one game. Otherwise, the Dolphins' offense has been great! Not. The team is last in the league in points scored. It's also last in the league in yards gained. Normally, when a team is bad in all offensive categories, they'll fire the Offensive Coordinator. But the Dolphins can't do that, because the Offensive Coordinator is also the Head Coach. So bye-bye, Ajayi.
Adding insult to insult, the Dolphins were careful to belittle Ajayi on the way out the door. "He has a bad attitude and bad work habits. And, oh yeah, bad knees, too!" Stay classy, Miami! You really fleeced Philadelphia out of that 4th round pick.
There are 9 games left in the season, but at least the team still has Cutler! How the hell am I supposed to cheer for this dumpster fire?
(On a seemingly unrelated note: the initial 2017 NCAA College Football Playoff Rankings were also released yesterday, and the Georgia Bulldogs have jumped the Alabama Crimson Tide for first place. Whoo hoo! If the price I have to pay for a great Bulldogs team is a terrible Miami team, I'm in.)