The Miami Dolphin Psyche in Trouble

The Miami Dolphins were trashed again in front of a national audience in a game that highlighted the team’s fragile psyche. Emotion and passion can disguise many warts, but as the season wears on, holes in the Dolphin roster open like the running lanes in Carolina on Monday night. Down 10-7 with 47 seconds left in the half, Jay Cutler fluttered an ill-advised pass toward Julius Thomas that was intercepted by wonder boy Luke Kuechly. The play led to a humiliating Carolina touchdown, exposing the difference between Miami and teams that will be playing in January.

The only word that can accurately describe the Miami Dolphin linebackers is, horrendous. The film on Kiko Alonso must be brutal to watch. His coverage deficiencies are so glaring, team’s relish getting to third down to exploit it. Rookie Christian McCaffrey left Alonso searching for his jockstrap twice, including a touchdown run. Timmons was out of position the entire night, caught in traps, over pursuing and missing tackles. Not to mention, he can’t cover anybody. The only sighting of Rey Maualuga came as a lead blocker on offense, and he can’t cover anybody.

The Miami defensive line will be called out for lacking pressure, but this hideous defense is not on the line or the secondary. The entire night was spent trying to figure out how to protect the middle of the field. A territory where linebackers should roam, but in Miami, they’re missing tackles, trailing receivers or getting caught out of position. After three quarters, the Panthers were 9-for-14 on third downs, throwing dinky passes to wide open receivers with linebackers trailing two yards behind.

The Cutler interception seemed to open the flood gates in a very fragile Miami psyche. Following the half, Carolina pranced for four consecutive touchdowns on the first four drives. Cam Newton humiliated the Miami defense and coordinator Matt Burke with antics that disgust opposing fans, but presumably excite the home crowd. The Dolphin defense was gashed for 214 rushing yards after three quarters for a whopping of 8.6 yard average! While desperately attempting to hide coverage deficiencies, Miami forgot about the running game.

On offense, Jay Cutler had that jittery look. He could not settle his feet and his throws sailed off target or were rushed when there really wasn’t a rush. On one third down play Cutler flushed from the pocket, had a clear path to run for the first down but chose to throw to a wide open Jarvis Landry. The pass was so poorly thrown it landed nowhere in the vicinity of Landry and was nearly intercepted.

Julius Thomas is nothing like the tight end who played for the Denver Broncos, those days are long gone. His plodding routes down the field are like watching paint dry. Cutler actually threw a nice pass down the sideline that a receiver with any form of body control could have caught for a long gain. Thomas could not get his body around and stumbled out of bounds, looking tired and old.

The Miami running game is a curious thing to watch, if it’s first down, Miami runs up the middle. First down, Miami runs up the middle. First down, Miami runs up the middle. It seemed Miami kept the backs in most other downs to protect Cutler after losing right tackle Ja’Wuan James to a season ending hamstring injury. The short passes to the backs were taken away by Luke Kuechly who showed the Dolphin brass how a great middle linebacker can make a defense. Cutler was in “Smoking Jay” form and the passing offense was anemic. With a nonexistent running game, the contest quickly turned into a 45-21 blowout that was not close in the 2nd half.

This was a season defining game for the Miami Dolphins. If Miami was going to make a run, it was going to start against Carolina and clearly this Miami team is not complete. It is hard to fathom the season being over with seven games remaining, but the holes at linebacker will not allow Miami to compete for a playoff spot in the NFL. Even getting there would be an exercise in futility as this team is not ready for prime time.

The big picture problem for Miami is difficult to manage. No team in the NFL can rightfully expect to compete for a title with all the adversity the team has suffered through this season. At the same time, humiliating defeats injure that delicate psyche, many times beyond repair.

It was once said, “winning begets winning, begets winning, but there’s a dark side… Losing begets losing, begets losing. Miami is a flawed team, extremely weak at the linebacker position, jittery at QB, perpetually injured on the offensive line and without a decent tight end.

The coaching staff, the fans and the
players remaining when this torturous season is over must somehow keep the faith. Do not lose the winning attitude and passion that brought the Dolphins this far on such a shaky platform. Look forward to fixing the platform, not losing the passion.

Losing grabs ahold and tries to pull that fragile psyche down the black hole of defeat.

Hang in there Miami…