After a hot 4-3 start, there was a fleeting week where it felt like the Dolphins had a slim shot at the playoffs. Then their annual losing streak kicked in, and they collapsed against against three weak opponents—the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins get one last chance this Sunday to keep their playoff hopes on life support. A few key players have been letting them down, and they need to step up against the Seattle Seahawks this weekend.
Much of the blame for Miami's struggles belongs to their 25th-ranked offense. And a great deal of that blame rests in the hands of left tackle Jake Long. A former No.1 overall pick and four-time Pro Bowler, Long is having by far the worst season of his career.
Long has been regressing all season long and has now fallen to the No. 47 overall ranking among offensive tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. He is meant to be the heart and leader of this struggling offensive line, and Miami cannot protect its rookie quarterback without solid play from Long. If he continues to play the way he has, one has to expect he will be allowed to leave in free agency in the summer.
A first-round pick in the 2010 draft, defensive end Jared Odrick has the privilege of playing across from Cameron Wake—the best player on the team. Yet this season Odrick has done nothing with that opportunity.
Ranked the worst player on the Dolphins defense, according to Pro Football Focus, Odrick has recorded only 12 quarterback pressures, compared with 33 from his teammate Wake.
Sure, he is a rookie. But as a second-round pick, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin needs to start holding his own, especially in pass blocking. He leads the team in sacks allowed and is unable to handle quality pass-rushers.
Martin has played only four snaps less than Jake Long, the team leader in snaps. He is being treated as a full-time starter, so he needs to start playing like it.
What it All Means
This Sunday's game is truly a must-win. After a cushy first-half schedule, the Dolphins have a nasty second half to deal with. Following this week, they face the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers.
A loss this week would most likely mean a 4-9 record shortly down the road and more interest in top draft picks than playoffs. If Miami is to keep its playoff hopes alive, the team absolutely must win at home against the Seahawks. To make that happen, these three guys have to play the way they are capable of rather than the way they have been.