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Dan Jamroz, PhinfeverSo much for my football hiatus. Just like Michael Corleone, when I thought I was out the Dolphins pull me back in. We are two games into a weird season and the results are not good. If you're riding the excuses train I suggest you stop reading at this point.

Plenty of teams overcome slow starts and have successful seasons. But for those trying to compare this version of the Dolphins to last year, or even Adam Gase's 2016 squad, I don't think this is the hill you want to die on by screaming "Patience!". Last year Chris Grier took a moderately priced sedan and stripped it down to the frame. He then asked Brian Flores to drive it through a 16 game season thinking Miami could secure the 1st overall pick for Tua Tagovailoa. I respected Flores giving the brass the double bird and winning five games. Those wins plus Tua's injury must have had Grier channeling Chevy Chase when he punched Wally the Moose's nose upon realizing the park was closed after a grueling odyssey in Vacation. This year Grier purchased the decent sedan and opted for a sun roof, shiny rims and a few extra bells and whistles to improve the journey. Well...

I don't need to rehash the details of the big free agent contracts. You guys can read them in any article from a local Miami paper. We all know Miami spent a pretty penny on the likes of Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah. Top 15 pick Christian Wilkins is back along with big money Xavien Howard, stat piler Jerome Baker and overachievers like Bobby McCain, Eric Rowe and Nik Needham. This isn't a defense starting UDFAs and 7th Round castoffs like last year. They are a lucky fumble away from giving up an average of 30 points per game. You cannot counter with hypotheticals about an injured player being why they lost to Buffalo. The Patriots had several key defensive players opt out of the season and Buffalo was missing two impact starters on Sunday. This defense has no excuse for looking like a dumpster fire two weeks in a row. They should at least be a top 20 unit given the money and draft picks spent to address it the last two seasons. Top 20 is not a compliment by the way.

On the offensive side of the ball you can make similar arguments. Miami drafted a 1st Round left tackle in Austin Jackson, gave big money to guard Ereck Flowers, acquired decent running backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, and have some very talented guys like Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker catching passes. Ryan Fitzpatrick is who he is and while I admire his work ethic and energy it loses its luster when he becomes the infamous Fitztragic. He'll get lucky and carve up an arrogant defense from time to time, but defensive coordinators have notes as thick as War and Peace on how to game plan for him. Why are they asking him to throw Miami to victory? History proves he cannot consistently do that. This offense needs an identity because they can no longer parade around as a merry band of misfits. There is too much talent to waste this season. Either commit to the run and grind teams out, or hand the keys to Tua and see if he can maximize the talent around him. We've watched his peers Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert exceed expectations with similar surrounding casts.

As for the coaches, I am tired of the cliches. Look, I can't call a play for a team of six year old flag football kids. I'd dial up go routes while my 4 ft tall QB gets two feet of distance on his throws. I realize Brian Flores, Chan Gailey and Josh Boyer are intelligent guys who see things none of us could decipher. But I don't want to hear "It starts with me. I need to do a better job preparing our team." Then the QB says, "It starts with me. I need to make the throws." And then we get every player saying, "It starts with us, we need to execute." We get it guys, you've mastered the art of saying nothing in interviews. You go 16-0 in that department every season. But it doesn't fly this year. You have talent to optimize. You've been through the same abbreviated offseason as every other team. You have guys logging significant snaps who played in Miami last season so spare me the not gelling argument. You have veteran additions who played at high levels on winning teams. You're going to continually say these redundant remarks and before Thanksgiving the playoffs will be out of reach.

I don't blame anyone who doesn't have a shred of excitement after what we have watched so far. We've been spoon fed hope and patience since Mike Tannenbaum made way for Grier and Brian Flores was hired. Culture, hard work, discipline, yadda yadda yadda. We've heard it before. After two weeks this looks like the same inconsistent product we have witnessed for 20 years. At it's current pace they could be staring down a 1-7 or 2-6 start. Unacceptable. Something has to improve in a timely fashion. Banking on cupcake victories over cream puff opponents or claiming moral victories only masks the true identity of a bad team. This should not be a bad team given the resources spent to assemble the roster. Miami needs quality wins in the not too distant future to change the narrative. It is not time to panic, however in my opinion this team no longer as the luxury of excuses or patience if the losses begin to pile up.

Rich Rodriguez, Phinfever, Good, Bad, and Ugly Game analysisThe Good

Ryan Fitzpatrick looked a lot better this week against a very good Bills defense. 65% completion, 328 yards and 2 TDs each week would typically mean a win if the rest of your team does its job. But they didn't so....

The running game was more productive, with Myles Gaskin continuing to lead the way. The Dolphins averaged 4.5 ypc. However, the Dolphins chose to throw 47 passes versus 22 runs in what was a close game all day. In a game like this, why not run the ball a bit more, take more time off the clock, give your defense more of a rest and keep the opposing offense off the field? Back to Gaskin, he also caught 6 passes for 36 yards.

Mike Gesicki having the breakout game! Good to see. 130 yards and a TD.

 

The Bad

This defense was designed to stop the run first. But it allowed 111 yards and 4.8 ypc. On top of that, Josh Allen had a career game with 417 yards and 4 TDs. The defense has more of a "read and react" feel, which I think is a terrible way to run a defense. I prefer "seek and destroy". The Dolphins, specifically their coaches, need to make some adjustments and soon on this side of the ball.

 

The Ugly

Despite good production on offense, the Dolphins lost. They start the season 0-2 and it is in large part because their defense still cannot stop the run. For a QB like Josh Allen, the running game sets the table. The Dolphins have to start shutting down the run, or this will be a long season.

 

Overall

Not an unexpected start against two tough AFCE opponents. I believe most reasonable people would have had us at 0-2 at this point. But the concern is how badly the defense has played thus far, with spending big bucks on a shutdown corner and adding a bunch of players that specialize in stopping the run first, so far the blueprint is a failure. Let's see if some of the issues can be addressed against the Jaguars.

Rich RodriguezThe Good

About the only positive in this game was the play of Jerome Baker, who was all over the field with 16 tackles, 1 sack and forced fumble that prevented a New England score.

I guess we can thrown in that the pass protection did not look atrocious as it has so often over the past decade. Something to keep an eye on with another revamped offensive line.

The Bad

This list will run long and deep.

Fitztragic was on full display with 3 interceptions and leading an anemic offense that only produced 11 points.

The running game struggled, although Gaskin and Breida did show some bright spots. But Jordan Howard was invisible.

Devante Parker injured again.

While the Dolphins were incapable of stopping what is essentially a college offense, the Dolphins wide outs aside from Parker were incapable of creating separation.

It is not even an exaggeration that the Patriots were running a college offense. They literally were. Most decent NFL defenses would know to penetrate and disrupt. The Dolphins defense hung back, misread plays and let Cam Newton do whatever he wanted.

The Ugly

I guess the quality of play was a symptom of the times. Shortened training camps and no preseason games due to the pandemic. The Dolphins are a young team that benefit more from that type of activity. Now they have to learn on the fly. And it may be this ugly for a couple more weeks before some players get their legs under them.

Overall

Great to have football and a little bit of normalcy back in our lives. The Dolphins are a very young team that may struggle early. Up next are the Bills, who will present another tough opponent. The Dolphins need to get their run game and run stop game going to be able to compete against these teams. If they are not able to improve in these areas, it will be another long season. The other question is, how much Fitzmagic vs Fitztragic will we get? If we keep seeing more of the latter, how quickly can we expect Tua to see the field? And how will he perform given the abridged training camp? In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before a quarterback controversy materializes.

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