As the Dolphins were busy dropping their ninth game in 11 tries Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, it was blatantly noticeable again, that pieces that were in place for their franchise we’re helping other teams succeed all over the NFL.
For example, former Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill has led a rebirth of Tennessee’s offense and saved their season, as the Titans flattened the Jaguars 42 – 20 in their latest win Sunday. Tannehill showed mobility scrambling for a 21-yard touchdown run and added another rushing score. He also threw two touchdown passes, including one to an offensive lineman on the goal line.
There is no disputing the Tannehill’s insertion into the starting role in place of Marcus Mariota has resulted in Tennessee winning four of the last five games. And, the Titans being firmly in the hunt for the AFC South and potentially an AFC wild-card spot.
Regardless of the salary cap savings, GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores have seen the Dolphins quarterback play has for the most part be poor. And, that includes trading for former Cardinals first round pick Josh Rosen. Rosen who began they year on the bench behind veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, but came in to start few games. However, he has now we’re going back into the deep freeze.
The argument is that Miami could have kept Tannehill by finding a creative way contractually for the cap and have a solution at QB for the near future. Instead, Tennessee is winning and Miami, with no long term QB, is floundering.
Moving on. Another key contributor for several years in South Florida was on display on the other sideline at the “Dog Pound” Sunday. Receiver Jarvis Landry had been waiting for two seasons for a shot to play against the Fins, and made the most of it Sunday with 10 catcces for 148 yards receiving and two scores.
While the argument can be made that when Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase decided they no longer needed Landry’s combustible personality and did not want to pay him a massive contract, there’s also no disputing that the Dolphins haven’t had a receiver anywhere near his caliber the last two years and are still searching for one.
By the way, owner Stephen Ross fired Tannenbaum and Gase for their bad personnel decisions and losing over the last two years.
Again, they are searching to replace someone who will be really good at catching the ball and impacting defenses for the next few years at least.
And then there’s number one pick from 2018, defensive back, Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins decided he did not fit into the long-term plans, even though he’s very talented player and was salary cap friendly.
The Steelers gladly grabbed him before the trade deadline for a first-round selection and all Fitzpatrick has done is collect 8 takeaways, since coming to Pittsburgh, which leads the entire NFL. And, it also includes Fitzpatrick’s two interceptions of his last name-sake, Fitzpatrick in Pittsburgh’s Monday night win back in October.
You include, Grier and Flores wanting to get rid of left tackle, Laremy Tunsil, to Houston for a #1 pick, when he could have theoretically locked down that important position for the next 8 – 10 years in South Florida, you have to be shaking your head.
Plus, you can include dumping running back Kenyan Drake, who has quickly blossomed in Kliff Kingsbury’s Arizona offense in his three games there since he was traded free late round pick. Miami has no suitable every down running back, as this year is winding down, and will have to sign or draft one.
No, the Dolphins were not going to contend for the Super Bowl this year under first-year coach Flores, but they got rid of numerous pieces that they will need still to replace to in free agency and the draft. And, Miami won’t be able to do that in just one year.
Dolphins look to win in familiar road place
Forgive the Dolphins is they are feeling like they’re having a little “Deja Vu.” That’s because for the second straight week, they will be right back at the Meadowlands, as the visitors. This time, against the Giants.
However, we’ll further forgive the Fins, coach Brian Flores and the fans, if they aren’t quite over last weekend’s trip to “the Big Apple.”
Questionable calls and decisions by the coaching staff have plagued the Dolphins all season. And in the 4th quarter, just when it seemed like they were going to make another one that could cost them the game, they called time out and ended up making the right call.
That’s when Miami, trailing the Jets 16 to 15 and sitting around the 28-yard line, was about to go for it on 4th and one after just hitting a 53-yard field goal earlier. But, after thinking about it, they sent Jason Sanders and the field goal unit on, yet again, with him kicking a 37-yarder… That made it six field goals on the day for the Dolphins, and they finished with an amazing seven made field goals, setting a new Miami Dolphins record.
Going into Week 14, the Dolphins were scoring 16.67 points per game. Prior to their showdown with the Jets this weekend where they covered the spread at SBR best sportsbook, the Fins were putting up 16 points on the road, but now they have managed to increase that number to exactly 17 points per game on the highway.
They did everything they wanted and needed, made the Jets use all three of their time outs and then put up that last field goal to take the lead… but still blew it on defense on first down of the next possession when Darnold threw the ball from the 20-yard line to Smith and coverage went for the deflection instead of a solid tackle in-bounds and the Smith ended up getting a long reception with a chunk of yards after the catch.
Then, a big and controversial pass interference that we wrote about Monday that wasn’t called on the field to keep the drive alive. Then with nothing left on the clock, Jets kicker Sam Ficken boots a field goal to win the game 22-21. Miami lost, but again, they didn’t get beaten by the Jets, they beat themselves with silly mistakes on the final drive.
The Giants have struggled all season. They had a brief moment of hope early in the year when Daniel Jones had a couple of good games. But since then, they have been tail-spinning in a downward spiral. They went back veteran Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning on Monday night, and looked good for 17-3 third quarter lead. Alas, they allowed the Eagles to tie them late and beat them with a TD in overtime.
That pretty well sums up the sad state of the Giants, who may be parting with coach Pat Shurmur soon.
The G-men are putting up 19 points per game overall, but they fall to 16.66 points per game while at home and allow almost 26 (25.66) per game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow 27.33 per game on the road.
So we have what amounts to a less than 1-point scoring differential. This one could be another battle just like we saw last weekend against the Jets.
As we mentioned, the plus side for the Dolphins is it’s the same stadium. It isn’t like they have to go to a different venue on their back-to-back road games, and they should be familiar.
Now, let’s see if Miami can put the ball in the endzone this week.
Pass interference overrule in Jets win over Dolphins shows flaws
The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.
And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.
Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.
From last nite…The afternoon for Brian Flores and Adam Gase: Emotions decided by an unseen strangerhttps://t.co/XkUmph2hWK
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 9, 2019
To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.
Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.
But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.
Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.
Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored and won the game 30 – 27.
Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.
However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.
Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.
Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.
The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.