The Miami Dolphins' home woes continued against the Chicago Bears as they were shut out at home for just the second time in 40 years.
Miami's offense was uninspiring, while the defense was doing all it could to keep the game close. Eventually, Chicago pulled ahead by 16 after a rushing touchdown by Matt Forte late in the 3rd quarter.
This game was supposed to be the coming out party for Miami's third starting quarterback this season, however, Tyler Thigpen was unable to put points on the board as Miami's offense sputtered through penalties and the lack of a rushing offense.
What can be taken from this game, positive or negative, that will help Miami in the long run?
For whatever reason, the Dolphins are not playing with a fire at home. They lack a true leader on the offensive side of the ball, which turns into a lack of execution.
There isn't a sense of confidence or urgency when the offense has the ball. Miami plays smart football, and is one of the least penalized teams in the NFL, but that still doesn't account for the lack of playmaking ability from players like Brandon Marshall and Ronnie Brown.
The offensive line doesn't play like the unit they should. An injured Jake Long is better than any of the other four starters Miami has on the line.
This is one of the most dismal Dolphins offenses that has been seen in years.
Two weeks in a row Brandon Marshall has committed a stupid penalty. Last week against Tennessee, he threw the football to the sidelines after making a catch, and was called on a delay of game.
Against Chicago, he was flagged for a 15-yard taunting penalty after catching a pass along the Bears sideline, and tossing the ball to Jay Cutler, who was Marshall's former teammate in Denver.
The phrase "Do as I say, and not as I do" can apply directly to Marshall. He came to this Dolphins franchise as a "rejuvenated" player who was ready to put the team first.
Marshall has yet to make the grand, spectacular impact that he was supposed to on this Dolphins offense. He has also let his attitude get the best of him as of late, which makes you wonder when things are going to go from OK to bad.
Marshall used his words to get fans on his side when he came to Miami, but he has yet to show his uncanny maturity this season.
Nobody likes a diva wide receiver, and lately, that is all that Marshall has accounted for.
Chad Henne was benched in favor of Chad Pennington, who can undoubtedly run this offense better than Henne.
However, the offensive gameplan that is in effect does not suit the strengths of Chad Henne. Chad Henne has a Godly cannon for an arm, and Miami has one of the worst offenses in terms of calling plays down the field.
Chad Henne is not the quarterback for Miami's current system. If and when (hopefully) Miami lets go of Dan Henning as offensive coordinator, Chad Henne will be able to grow as a player and quarterback.
Chad Henne cannot succeed in this offense, especially when the coordinator's philosophy is explained like this: "I never concerned myself about how much my quarterback could hurt the other team, I concerned myself with how much he could hurt my team."
This is a congratulations to Chad Henne for being reasonably successful in an offense that couldn't score anything more than field goals on a defense filled with premature babies.
Miami's offensive line is inexplicably inconsistent this season, apart from Jake Long. Tony Sparano and staff decided it was in the best interest of this team to change three starters from the interior offensive line (Guard-Center-Guard).
Thus, Miami let go of Donald Thomas, Justin Smiley, and Jake Grove. The three new starters, in Richie Incognito, Joe Berger, and John Jerry, have yet to play to their potential, or to the level that the line played last year.
The offensive line struggles are evident, as Miami has yet to run the ball effectively this season.
For a group of players that was supposed to be one of the best in the league at the start of the season, Miami has several holes to fill in that unit alone.
Vernon Carey is also underachieving this season.
How is this man still an offensive coordinator in this league? It is evident that he doesn't know how to run an offense that puts up enough points to win games, even with an above average defense.
Henning was a suitable coordinator for a conservative, low-risk player like Chad Pennington. He was a great coordinator for a player like Pennington. Henning almost has the perfect offense for Chad Pennington.
Chad Henne, on the other hand, needs a confident offensive coordinator that allows him to use his arm to gain chunk yardage. Giving Henne an innovative coordinator, who trusts in his quarterback's arm, will allow Henne to show his true potential as a quarterback.
If Miami wants to have a pulse, an identity, and a clue on offense, it starts with getting rid of the coordinator that is holding back this potentially dangerous team.
Miami is still a few years away from contending for the AFC East title, and a Super Bowl. They have a good team, but there are still pieces that need to be filled in order to propel Miami from an average team to an above average, or even a great football team.
This is not the time to call out players, but Miami still needs a better skillset for a lot of positions on both sides of the ball.
Miami is still living in the wake of their 11-5 season in 2008, and they need to forget about that year because it was a fluke season. Miami is better than they were last year, but not much better.
Miami is a solid draft or two away from really taking off as a franchise.
Also remember that Miami will have Jared Odrick and A.J. Edds back next season, who were both drafted this year. Both of those players were also supposed to receive regular playing time, until they were injured and placed in injured reserve.
At 5-5, Miami is on the outside looking in. Unless they win out, and receive help from the other high-caliber teams in the AFC, they will not be playing in the playoffs.
At this point, the best thing for Miami to do is give reserve players more playing time. Players like Tony McDaniel, Reshad Jones, Micah Johnson, Austin Spitler, Lex Hiliard, Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace, Ike Alama-Francis, and Nolan Carroll need more playing time so they are more prepared for next season.
This also gives Miami an early lead in scouting, as they will see what depth they need for other positions.
Miami also needs to push Jake Long into having surgery on his injured labrum. Long played injured against Chicago, and if surgery is necessary for him to be healthy, he should have it done sooner than later.
It is another long season for Dolphins fans, but there is hope on the horizon. Barring more setbacks, Miami will be a contending team in a season or two.