Back To Earth: What Went Wrong in Miami’s 36-7 Loss to New England

This game was inevitable. We knew it would happen, but we all kept wishing that it would wait another week. When a team is playing good football due to motivation, it will eventually run out.

Tonight’s loss was not on Dan Campbell. It was not even on Bill Lazor or Lou Anarumo. This Miami Dolphins team is simply not good enough to compete with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots have played over a decade of football like Miami played against Tennessee and Houston. They dominate the opposition nearly every week, and are putting together one of their finest seasons. Who can we blame for this loss? Everyone.

We can sit here and ask, “Why is Lou Anarumo covering Dion Lewis with Koa Misi?” But what we need to realize is that he has no other choice. What is he going to do, put a cornerback on him and have Amendola or LaFell open? Or use a safety coming down and leave Gronkowski open? Against New England, you need linebacker play. Jelani Jenkins is the only good linebacker on this Dolphins team, and the team will need to rebuild that unit completely after the season.

(Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel)

(Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel)

Oh and by the way, I think about Dion Jordan twice a year. Both of which are when we play against the Patriots.

The team’s offensive woes cannot be placed solely on Ryan Tannehill, the offensive line, or Bill Lazor. The issues Miami has had on that side of the ball are caused by a trifecta of deficiencies that would be difficult for any team to overcome.

One of the most frustrating things I have seen this year is the miscommunication between Tannehill and his receivers. We are in Week Eight of the NFL season. Tannehill and his receivers need to be on the same page by now, and responsibility for that has to fall on Bill Lazor. He needs to make sure that he addresses whatever is going on with the connection between these groups now, otherwise possessions will continue to slip away from this team.

We once again saw the team abandon the run as well, relying entirely on the passing game for any chance at victory. Unfortunately we all know how this turns out, but that issue is not exclusive to Miami when facing New England. The Patriots jump out to early leads and force the opposition to throw in order to keep up. That is how they force turnovers and create problems for the offense.

The most devastating part of this game was Cameron Wake’s Achilles injury, which appears, upon first thought, to be season ending. If Wake did tear his Achilles he could not only be done in Miami, but also could face a tough road to returning to the NFL at his age. No confirmation has been issued as to the severity of Wake’s injury, but it would be absolutely devastating as fans to see Wake gone for a substantial amount of time. Even just as an emotional blow, it will be tough for this team to recover from losing their leader.

(Sun Sentinel)

(Sun Sentinel)

Tonight, the Miami Dolphins ran into a freight train. The New England Patriots are a machine, and they know exactly how to exploit teams’ weaknesses and force them into playing subpar football. It doesn’t matter if your head coach is Dan Campbell, Joe Philbin, Rex Ryan, or Jim Harbaugh. Bill Belichick will put his team in a position to not only win, but also to humiliate their opposition.

This was not a game that Miami was supposed to win. They were supposed to be competitive. There were some very limited bright spots, including the defensive line play. That unit was able to pressure Brady consistently all night, but the defense could not capitalize given the poor play of the linebackers. Even this silver lining seems dimmer given the bleak prognosis for Cameron Wake.

Reshad Jones was a mixed bag tonight, but overall he did everything he could to help Miami win. He gave up a few plays to Gronkowski, but honestly who doesn’t?

My biggest takeaway from tonight’s game was not even about the Dolphins. It was about the Patriots. After watching them play this football team, and understanding how Belichick seems to get better at exposing the opponent’s weaknesses every year, I am realizing that this year’s Patriots team is on another level. I don’t mean on another level from the Miami Dolphins. I mean they are on a different level than every other team in the NFL. It would be very surprising to not see this New England team representing the AFC this February.

This week was not a make-or-break game for the season. The same cannot be said for next week’s game against the Buffalo Bills. The Miami Dolphins are 0-3 in the division, and cannot be swept by the Bills if they want a shot at the wildcard. This game was the first of a three game road trip, with a matchup against the Eagles following the Bills game. If Miami wants the 2015 season to live on, they will need to beat the Buffalo Bills in Week Nine. Then, it’s likely that the Eagles game will be a must win. If they lose to Buffalo, it will not matter.

960

It is a tough pill to swallow, but tonight had to happen. This team had to come crashing back to earth. The part that hurts the most is the way that it happened. Wake’s injury is a sobering moment for fans, and should not be taken lightly. This is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, and he could have played his last snaps in aqua and orange. No diagnosis is confirmed yet, but most fear the worst for Wake.

The Miami Dolphins will have a much-needed long week to recover before their game against the Bills. The team will have to regroup before the pivotal matchup that will decide their season. It was not fair to expect Dan Campbell and his team to defeat the Patriots in Foxboro, where visitors rarely if ever win. What is fair however is to expect them to fight their way back into it against Buffalo next week. If the team drops that game, then 2015 will be written off.

Every team needs a reality check. Now it is time to see how the Miami Dolphins respond to theirs, which came in the form of a 36-7 loss to the New England Patriots.

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