The Dolphins have been playing hard every game, and were it not for some costly mistakes at the end of a couple games, they would be atop the AFC East standings.
Miami has won its games playing solid and efficient offense while dominating the line of scrimmage on defense. There have certainly been some players that have stood out during the early season by making plays in key situations and being reliable when called on.
There have also been those players that came into the season with high expectations, not only for themselves, but expectations placed upon them by the fans and the media.
If these players had been able to contribute at a higher level, Miami may be looking at a record above .500, instead of below.
These are the players that have been most disappointing so far this season.
When the Dolphins signed Richard Marshall in free agency, they believed they had signed a cornerback that would help strengthen the still young, but highly-talented, duo of cornerbacks the Dolphins had (talking about Sean Smith and Vontae Davis).
Marshall was as good as anyone during training camp, and he allowed the trade that would send Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts to make more sense. However, the expectations the coaches had for him and the expectations that he created for himself have not been reached. Not even close.
Against the Houston Texans, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, Marshall was a constant liability in the passing game. Against the Jets, Santonio Holmes took him to school, and Marshall allowed big plays down the stretch that ultimately allowed the Jets to win the game.
Even though Marshall has been dealing with a back injury, his productivity has not been there. He has not helped reshape a Dolphins secondary that is still one of the worst in the league at giving up yards through the air. Marshall's impact on the team was seen against the Cincinnati Bengals, when his presence was not missed.
Where do I begin with Dan Carpenter?
Not long ago, Carpenter was a Pro Bowl kicker and one of the most reliable kickers in the entire league.
Today, he is but a mere shade of himself. He hasn't been able to be counted on in late game situations through five games.
Against the Jets, Carpenter missed two field goals that would have given the Dolphins the victory. One week later against the Cardinals, Carpenter disappointed again as he missed another field goal that would have giving the Dolphins another victory. Against the Bengals this past week, Carpenter missed a late field goal that would have sealed the victory for the Dolphins. Even though they won that game, Carpenter's mishaps didn't go unnoticed.
Miami will probably stick to Carpenter for the remainder of the season, but for a kicker that makes $2.5 million, these misses are unacceptable. Carpenter has lost the coaches' confidence in him, and he may have lost some confidence in himself. If he doesn't begin making kicks real soon, it's going to be a long offseason for him.
Once again, Miami went fishing in the free agent market—this time not for help at cornerback, but for help at wide receiver.
When Miami picked up Anthony Armstrong, many believed he would be a key contributor to this offense. He had a semi-successful, two-year stint with the Washington Redskins, which allowed Miami to feel confident in picking him up.
Armstrong has been just a tad better than the former Dolphin, Legedu Naanee, was during his four games (I say this because Armstrong has three receptions and hasn't fumbled).
He hasn't lived up to the somewhat high expectations the media and the coaches had for him. He has been a ghost and hasn't provided a reliable target for Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins' wide receivers are not the most talented in the league, and to be the worst of the bunch doesn't say too much about how good you are.
Like Armstrong, Clay was expected to help boost the passing game and provide a reliable target for Tannehill. Many had high expectations for the second year man out of Tulsa. He is listed as a fullback, but he is used mainly as a pass catcher.
Clay creates mismatches against linebackers using his speed, and against cornerbacks using his size and strength.
Against the Bengals, Clay had his most productive game of the season and showed why there are high expectations for him. However, he managed to take a step back by dropping passes on key situations, and running out of bounds when the clock was inside two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
For the season, Clay has amassed an amazing four catches for 37 yards. These are not numbers you would like to see from someone expected to be highly-utilized in this offense.
After an under-performing rookie season, second-year running back Daniel Thomas was expected to make long strides this season. Everyone knew Reggie Bush would be the feature back, but Thomas was expected to contribute heavily in short yardage situations and relieve Bush when he came out for a few plays.
Even though Thomas has scored a couple touchdowns, his performance has been underwhelming. He has carried the ball 36 times and gained only 113 yards.
The most concerning aspect of Thomas' game has been that he has fumbled the ball twice in the four games he has played. The fumbles have come when the Dolphins are in their own territory and are trying to put a drive together. With the lack of offensive weapons Ryan Tannehill has, the QB has to be able to count on the running game to be consistent and efficient. Thomas has certainly not helped.
With Lamar Miller showing what he is capable of in the limited carries he has had, the Dolphins may be keeping a close eye on Thomas' performance this year. They may very well be thinking about what they will do with him next year.
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