We have decided to take a 100% “tongue in cheek” look at how fans can perceive that the NFL hates their team because of what they did or did not schedule for the 2018 season that was released Thursday night.
And now, the Dolphins edition.
It was a disappointing 2017 for Dolphins fans. There’s no denying that 6-10 a year after having been 10-6 and making the playoffs as an AFC Wildcard team was a step back.
But this is a new year.
And, never mind that the group of Tannenbaum, Grier and Gase have jettisoned Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, and Ndamukong Suh and gotten a grand total of a third and a fourth round pick in this year’s draft to do it. (Feel the sarcasm yet?)
The schedule release is about 2018, and hope, new players acquired in March and new opponents….and, what was that last night from the NFL?
Yes, you open at home against a playoff team in the Titans with all-everything QB Marcus Mariota, but after that? You play three of the next four games on the road with two against division foes the Jets and Patriots?
“Holy Shaky Start, Batman!” Is the NFL trying to get Adam Gase fired in the first six weeks of the season?!?
Next, is the obvious. Just like Jacksonville’s gripe, where are the prime time games for what is traditionally one of the recognizable franchises in NFL history?
Ok, Nevermind that Dan Marino hasn’t suited up in 18 years, these are the Dolphins! You know, the great weather, the aqua unis with the new orange outlines around the numbers, South Beach….the Dolphins!
Meh. Guess not.
One scheduled game under the lights on national television? And, it’s against the fumbling bumbling Texans on a Thursday night on the road? No Monday nighters? No Sunday night marquee match up?
Another sign of clear spite (to hear Miami sportsradio caller tell it) is that Fins are not a cold weather team. Everyone knows this. Yet, what could be the biggest game of the year (to make the playoffs or not) will be at Buffalo.
On December 30th.
Where you will likely have sub freezing temps, 30 m.p.h. wind gusts and probably some freezing rain or snow to contend with that day.
And didn’t the Fins have to do this in Western New York last December? And, also December of 2016, too?
Who in the name of Jim Cantore is responsible for the placing the South Florida team in the icebox at the end of the year, three years in a row?
Yes, there are only two playoff teams in the first eleven match-ups on this schedule unveiled Thursday night, but “Good Grief Charlie Brown,” the last five games are all playoff teams when it matters the most. Those would be Buffalo (twice) New England, Minnesota and Jacksonville.
Does the NFL just not like the Dolphins, or did it just work out this way? (*wink*wink)
Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay
Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.
It just looks and feels that way.
Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.
Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.
Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.
The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.
Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.
Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.
It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.
Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.
The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year they got off to a 3 – 0 start.
So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.
Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.
No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.
Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field
Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)
When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Here’s what to watch:
Dolphins defensive coordinator Burke under scrutiny
It has been a tough few weeks for the Dolphins all the way around, but specifically on the defensive side of the ball, the struggles are mounting. And when you throw in a player pouting and essentially pulling a mutiny on the sidelines last Sunday, it’s not good for the defensive coordinator.
That’s what happened a week ago when Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones refused to go back in the game on two occasions during the second half of the Dolphins close 13 – 6 win over the Jets. It’s been a big topic in South Florida for the last few days, and it obviously has defensive coordinator Matt Burke having to answer for what’s going on in the defense of meeting rooms, practices, etc.
Dolphins Live: Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke meets with the media. https://t.co/2145Fq3uaU
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2018
As the press continued to poke at him about the Jones situation, you could tell that Burke is over it, as is coach Adam Gase, and they want to move on for this week. However, Jones didn’t make that any easier, when he basically refused to apologize for not wanting to play.
And, moving past it may also be easier said than done, when the opponent is All-Pro quarterback and former League MVP Aaron Rodgers at his house, Lambeau Field.
Yes, the Dolphins have some pass rushers, and that would include second-year defensive end and former number 1 pick Charles Harris returning to practice this week after a calf injury, and he may be able to play. Veteran Cam Wake came alive pressuring Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold repeatedly, and registering a couple of sacks.
However, the defensive plays have been few and far between, as the Dolphins have lost four of the last five games.
That brings us back to Burke, who was elevated after coaching the linebackers in 2016, when Vance Joseph left Miami to become Denver’s head coach. After spending his entire pro career as a linebackers coach, this is his first opportunity to be the guy in charge of the defense.
So, he and Gase can get aggravated with the questioning of what we’re seeing, but the bottom line is: if the Dolphins defense doesn’t continue to step it up, like they did last week, there is going to be much more scrutiny of him.
The oddsmakers have the Dolphins as double-digit underdogs to Rodgers and the Pack.
Now, let’s see if Burke’s unit will rally together, play solidly and give Miami a chance to win Sunday.
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