What happened to the Dolphins?

Last year the fish were a dark horse playoff competitor. They were going through some growing pains as such young teams often do, but it felt like everything was on the right track and they just needed another year to coalesce and congeal into themselves and genuinely compete instead of stay right on the fringes. This was a team coming up from the depths of Adam Gase despair. Brian Flores looked like the first apple to fall from Belichick’s tree that actually sorta got it. They were wheeling and dealing players for young talent. Some of those moves looked good, some looked questionable, but there seemed to be a plan. With the team actually causing some heads to turn, you could look at Miami and trust the process.

Looking back now it all seems more baffling than planned. Tua has been controversial since being drafted. The fans seemed beyond hyped about him and I think the Dolphins fan positivity during that draft pick was stronger than any other pick, including Burrow. But since taking over the job from Fitz, who was playing well at the time, Tua has been under exceptional scrutiny and many fans have straight up turned against him and want him dumped or traded. Tua himself has been struggling with injuries for much of his time in the league. He recently returned nursing cracked ribs from earlier this year. Reports that Flores wanted to draft Justin Herbert but got overruled have percolated through the NFL rumorsphere. That might be an easy rumor to spread considering Herbert looks like the best QB of the class in retrospect but he seemed like the guy everyone thought would bust at the time.

But other problems have caught up with the fish too. The team seemed almost allergic to keeping talent. The defense looks miserable despite being one of the highlights last year. They had a corner safety once and they sent him to the Steelers for some reason, and boy could they use him now. Injuries have hurt them a bit, notably with Tua this year, but every team deals with injuries every year and you can only blame the pains for so much. The Ravens have done a great job overcoming worse injury luck than Miami. They also haven’t faced a brick wall schedule that might account for the failures. They just squeaked by a conservative and generally crap Patriots team led by a rookie QB in his first game. They got nuked off the face of the earth by the Bills. They lost to a mediocre Raiders team in OT (a game they were leading by 14 pts at one time), got their ass kicked by Carson Wentz and the Colts, got their sore asses kicked even harder by the good yet very injured Bucs, and then embarrassed themselves against the Jaguars, one of the worst teams in the league currently rocked by scandal.

The fish have a game against the pathetic Falcons this week, which gives them a chance to get things back on track (before facing the mighty Bills again). The rest of their schedule isn’t particularly frightening either, with upcoming games against the Giants, Jets (2x), Texans, Patriots, and a mystery Panthers squad that might suck. The Ravens, Saints and Titans are probably losses, but that’s pretty low overall. There isn’t an unreasonable chance the team could at least right the ship enough to finish the season in respectful mediocrity and this comic could age like milk. But if they lose to the Falcons this weekend, that’s a 6 game skid, probably 7 game skid, before they can beat up the small half-dead child that is the Texans for an easy win. I glanced in Dolphins online circles this weekend after the loss and the morale is not high.