Biggest Takeaways from Miami Dolphins' Week 3 Loss
Everyone affiliated with the Miami Dolphins football operations should have a crick in their neck from looking over their shoulder.
After another embarrassing loss, this time in a 41-14 beatdown by the Buffalo Bills in the Dolphins' home opener, no one's job should be safe.
Not the general manager. Not the head coach or his staff. Not the players.
The Dolphins are searching for answers in a season that appears to be headed for another record of .500 or worse, which would be the fourth such season in four years under head coach Joe Philbin. You can debate whether the problems start there—though three years of evidence suggests the coaching is the main problem—but you can't debate that the problems do not end with Philbin.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the Dolphins' atrocious loss to the Bills.
Time to Drop the Use of the Word 'Vaunted' in Reference to the Defensive Line
Three games. One sack.
The Dolphins' so-called "vaunted" defensive line has been anything but vaunted through the first three weeks of the season. The lone sack so far was contributed by rookie defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who wasn't even active on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins have two All-Pro defensive linemen on their roster in Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Against the Bills, those two combined for two quarterback hurries and one quarterback hit according to Pro Football Focus. On the season, they have combined for seven hurries and one hit.
According to Over The Cap, Wake and Suh combine for a cap hit of $16.55 million in 2015 and $38.4 million in 2016. That's a lot of money invested in two players who haven't done much for the Dolphins this season.
Wake is dealing with a hamstring injury and needs to get healthy quick. Suh is struggling and must also find his footing, but he's not the only one. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and defensive end Olivier Vernon have not been much better, as the Dolphins have yielded 145 rushing yards per game and 4.2 rushing yards per carry through three games, both of which rank in the bottom 10 in the NFL.
None of the Dolphins Major Additions Are Doing Much of Anything
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh may be the most notable Dolphins player under the spotlight for his failure to live up to the hype that surrounded his arrival in Miami, but he's far from the only one who has underachieved since joining the team.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills has caught just three passes for 20 yards and did not record a single catch against the Buffalo Bills. Last year at this time, he already had nine receptions for 125 yards—not No. 1 receiver stats, but not too shabby at all.
Rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker has caught just four passes for 49 yards. Tight end Jordan Cameron has 10 catches for 151 yards. He's the only new Dolphin even close to "living up to the hype," but he still hasn't caught a single touchdown pass.
Cornerback Brice McCain was supposed to be a galvanizing piece for the secondary, but he's allowed 14 receptions on 22 passes thrown in his direction for 232 yards and one touchdown, grabbing one interception and breaking up two passes and allowing a passer rating of 95.3, according to Pro Football Focus.
Are the players simply not executing? Are the coaches failing to maximize the potential of their players? The problem is probably a combination of both, but either way, it's not a good look for the Dolphins' personnel department—another group that could be under some heavy scrutiny in the weeks to come.
Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews Are Carrying the Dolphins Offense
It's hard to imagine the Dolphins relying even more on wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews. After all, the two pass-catchers lead the team in receptions through the first three weeks of the season: Landry has 24, Matthews has 16.
That being said, the Dolphins offense only seems to be successful when those two are at the center of the attack.
There needs to be a more concerted effort by the Dolphins coaches to get other players involved, to play off the success of Landry and Matthews by forcing defenses to adjust their game plan to stop those two. If defenses are going to crowd the middle of the field and take away Matthews and Landry, the Dolphins need to be willing to go downfield.
Yeah, good luck with that.
Thus far through three games, Ryan Tannehill has completed just seven of his 18 pass attempts that traveled 20 yards or more downfield, according to Pro Football Focus. It's not that the Dolphins aren't trying—18 deep attempts is the fourth-most in the NFL right now—but they just haven't been successful enough to stick with it.
Tannehill needs to start completing more of those downfield throws, or the Dolphins offense may never get out of its rut.
Penalties Are Suddenly an Issue
Joe Philbin's teams have been mediocre in his four-year Dolphins tenure, but one area they've excelled in is penalties. They have annually been among the league's least-flagged teams, but that streak appears to be coming to a close this year.
Through three games, the Dolphins have been flagged for 25 accepted penalties for 187 yards. That's the ninth-most penalties in the NFL, according to NFLPenalties.com. In 2014, the Dolphins committed just 81 penalties (third-fewest in the NFL) for 635 yards on the season, and you can see why the sudden lack of discipline is a problem.
If the Dolphins want to start winning consistently, they must first stop beating themselves. Only then will they realize their full potential in 2015.
This Game Could Still Be a Springboard for the Dolphins
Just 12 months ago, the Dolphins entered Week 4 at 1-2 as they prepared to travel to London with hopes of turning their season around. There were questions about the coaching staff, the players and the entire organization.
The Dolphins won that game against the Oakland Raiders but lost again out of the bye before they got on a roll again with a three-game winning streak. There's no room for mediocrity and more uphill battles to even get back to .500.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross laid out the expectations for his team very clearly this summer: playoffs or bust. If the Dolphins are going to make noise in the hunt for a playoff spot this winter, this game needs to be the turning point of their season.
The New York Jets are on the ropes after a 24-17 loss to the previously winless Philadelphia Eagles. Wide receivers Eric Decker and Chris Owusu and running back Chris Ivory are all battling injuries they've suffered through the first three weeks of the season. So are cornerback Darrelle Revis and right guard Willie Colon, who suffered injuries against the Eagles.
The Jets are ripe for the picking. The Dolphins need to pounce on this opportunity to turn their season around.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained via team news release.