Dolphins Playoff Hopes Sink in Baltimore Harbor

Riding a six game winning streak, the Miami Dolphins came crashing down to reality in Baltimore getting trounced by the Ravens 38-6. From the opening kick, the Ravens proved much more worthy of a playoff spot than the flailing Dolphins. The middle of the Miami defense was dissected like a high school frog by Joe Flacco and whichever receiver he chose.

The Miami Dolphin linebackers were out of position the entire day as Flacco completed pass after pass to open receivers. Ryan Tannehill made bad decisions and seemed to be telegraphing his run/pass option leaving the Ravens a step ahead of the Dolphins in nearly every situation. The patchwork Miami offensive line was clearly over matched and the vaunted defensive line could not slow Flacco and the Raven’s passing game.

It was a miserable game for the Dolphins, one that showed where this team resides in the playoff picture. On the outside looking in. With four games remaining Miami’s post season hopes are still alive, but the cleanup crew after this game will be very busy. In a familiar theme, injuries on the offensive line betrayed the hopes of Miami Dolphin fans. Pro bowl tackle Brandon Albert and center Mike Pouncey watched their teammates struggle.

Adam Gase has his hands full this week as Miami begins another December looking undermanned against playoff caliber teams. Miami must get better quickly at home against the Arizona Cardinals before entering a three game AFC East season finale. At 7-5 Miami enters the final quarter of the season hanging on to playoff hopes. This team has outplayed expectations and yet the dismal performance in Baltimore rings hollow, like some know-it-all spewing, “I told you so” all over the Dolphin faithful.

Is it time to backpedal on where this team belongs in the big picture? Should Miami fans brace themselves for the inevitable December crash? This is the same team that leaped overwhelming hurdles at 1-4. Adam Gase must find a way to right a ship that nearly capsized in Baltimore harbor. Offensive line play clearly seems to be the determining factor for Ryan Tannehill, the running game and even the Miami defense.

When the Dolphins run the football, every other facet of their game plan seems to follow. Given time, Tannehill can pass the ball as well as any QB in the league. Given rest, the defense plays fast and loose, but converting only 4 of 13 on 3rd down derailed the necessity of keeping Joe Flacco off the field.

Baltimore found a soft spot in the middle of the Miami defense and Vance Joseph never found an answer. It is about this time of the season that exposes the weaknesses of inferior teams in the NFL and Miami may have been exposed. Linebackers biting on play action left gaping holes for TE seam routes that Flacco exploited at will. Kiko Alonso played the game with a cast on his wrist, leaving Mike Hull and Neville Hewitt desperately trying to fill the void when he left the field. They proved unable to keep up with Pitta and Dixon.

The Dolphins must now exit the season much as they entered, with questions on the offensive line and at linebacker. Pouncey and Albert returning to the lineup could solve the line issues, but there are no pro bowlers healing in the wings at linebacker. The Dolphin defense can expect to see this same formula for the rest of the season and must find a way to sure up the middle.

Dolphin fans must temper their expectations with the reality that healthy horses are required over the long 16 game season. Only an off-season influx of talent at linebacker can solve the weakness on defense. Decisions must be made on the offensive line where availability may become the one ability Miami must reconcile with.

It should be interesting to see if Adam Gase and “leaders” in the locker room can squeeze four more games out of a team that relies as much on emotion as talent to win. As the playoffs approach, the teams with talent and emotion begin to proliferate the playoff brackets. Miami may find a place in the race, but this team seems a few pieces short of playing in January.

7 - 4 Miami Dolphins Stake Claim over 49'ers

The DOLPHINS have (found a way) to dig themselves from three feet under at 1 - 4 to three games over 500. with their sixth successive WIN!! Not since Satan's 2005 Dolphins had Miami found victory on six consecutive weeks! (That's eleven years folks and 6 or 7 head coaches ago) including interims!

Miami's 2008 Dolphins were 5 - 5 before winning the final six which would suggest that they weren't 7 - 4 at any point. They obviously finished 6 games over 500 while everything that could go right went right in leading the league with the fewest penalties, turnovers, and having zero injuries (not even a hangnail) for that under talented teams season.

It can be recalled that many Dolphin fans wished that they hadn't done so well after the previous 1 - 15 season of 2007 while being correct in stating that particular teams era needed a few more years of high draft picks to become true contenders.

Seems as though that the Dolphins have had to scratch and claw their way to just below 500. every week and or year since 2008. Other than perhaps a fast start of 3 - 0 (that I can't recall), I don't know when the last time was that Miami was three games over 500. especially at this point of any particular season. They weren't three games over 500. until their thirteenth game of 2008, and again, it has seemed as though that they haven't been back to anywhere near such until finding their way to 7 - 4 today.

It has been a tough eleven (plus) years. It's been a tough season with five of the last six straight wins coming against top ranked defenses. The Dolphins started this current six game streak when for the first time of 2016 the intended starting offensive line actually started and played together in four victories over the Steelers, Bills, Jets, and Chargers. Miami hadn't won the next game after beating the Jets in some 31 attempts!

During the game and the practice week after the win at San Diego the Dolphins suffered the triple threat loss of starting offensive lineman Brandon Albert, Laremy Tunsil, and Mike Pouncey.

Though having one, two, or three intended starting offensive lineman not play is nothing new for Miami! The preferred starting five have played together in just 12 of the last 43 games while winning eleven of those contest. What is new! Is that over the last two games they have played with 3/5ths of their FAB-FIVE in street clothes and still found a way to victory while clearing two more hurdles beyond 500.

7 - 4!
It's been a tough eight to eleven (plus) years!
It's been a tough season for us fans to fathom!
Chasing 500. from the beginning to the end of seasons, and falling short in a multitude of critical season shifting opportunities every year. You kinda get used to expecting the worst!

I must admit (being the eternal optimist that I'm known to be).
It didn't feel right today, I didn't feel comfortable even when leading 31 - 14. Maybe due to pre game distractions that prohibited personal winning streak rituals, or even getting into the proper game attire? Maybe due to being called away during every San Francisco drive for a score? Maybe because I desired sooo baddd to be three games over 500. rather than just one, and potentially be letdown (like in years past) in yet another golden opportunity lost?

Miami executed quite a few great plays versus the 49'ers today with a few other extraordinary plays that missed by dust particles of fitting within the grid.

The San Francisco quarterback (though he threw a pick to Kiko Alonso), matched Tannehill with three touchdown passes. He also (by himself) outshined (with 113 yards rushing on 10 carries) the Dolphins entire running game of 95 yards led by Jay Ajayi's 18 attempts for 45 yards with a touchdown. Both quarterbacks were sacked twice.

Rookie receiver Leonte Carroo caught his first career touchdown, tight end Dion Sims caught his first of the season, and Kenny Stills scored again. Devante Parker made a handful of spectacular catches along with a couple that didn't quite fit inside the lines, but spectacular non the less!

Kiko's interception and a fumble recovery were his third and fourth converted turnovers in the last three games, and he finished off the San Francisco quarterback at the one yard line which kept him from scoring the tying touchdown as time expired with the scoreboard shimmering a golden Miami 31 - SF 24.

The/Your Miami Dolphins have dug their way out from a 1 - 4 bottomless pit to the AFC's six seed (as of today)! If the postseason began next week, your Dolphins would be playing!
They've been in win or go home mode for the last six games and have come out on top to earn 7 - 4, ever so slightly ahead of the wildcard pack.

It just so happens that today was not the end of the regular season. Never the less, next weeks game at Baltimore's (upper tier defense) is ever so important as both teams are in win the next game, if not playoff or bust mode!

Yeeee Haaaa, six straight DOLPHIN WINS, 7 - 4, and presently in the playoffs. Someone fill that grave we climbed out of with the nuggets we've accrued!!

Get Well Very Soon BA, MP, & Tunsil!!