Davis: Dolphins' problems run deeper than stripped down roster
For a brief moment, there were indications the Dolphins were ready to play a competitive game. Maybe even capable of it.
Josh Rosen, in his first start for Miami, was avoiding rushers, making some impressive throws right on target.
Inexplicably, considering they fell behind 10-0, the Dolphins were on the brink of taking the lead before halftime Sunday at Dallas.
An assortment of forehead-smacking dropped passes and a killing fumble by Kenyan Drake prevented it from happening.
Then in the second half the team that was outscored 102-10 in the first two weeks reverted to form and got steamrolled again, 31-6 by the Cowboys.
Better off watching Tua
For the @TankForTua (Tagovailoa) crowd, the objective remains on track.
If you’ve been watching Alabama’s Heavin’ Hawaiian, he is providing validity to the strategy of throwing away a season for the chance to draft him.
After back-to-back games with five touchdown passes, Tua said he’s still learning and can get better.
As for these 0-3 Dolphins, the lessons of catching the ball and tackling remain elusive.
So after it appeared there might be some positives to point to in Week 3, there really weren’t.
It was good to see the offense making better use of Drake. Then he fumbled.
DeVante Parker made a terrific one-handed grab 40 yards down field. Then he dropped a perfectly placed pass over the middle that could have gone for a touchdown prior to Drake’s gaffe.
Rookie receiver Preston Williams has his moments, but he couldn’t hold onto another would-be touchdown pass long enough for it to be ruled a catch.
The mistakes are mind-numbing even for a team that has been stripped down for a total rebuild.
That’s D for disaster
And the defense is like it’s playing on the down slope of the roller coaster, prompting safety Bobby McCain to say, “I am concerned with the defense. Run defense, pass defense, it doesn’t matter. We give up 31 points, we give up 49 points, whatever it was, that is what I am concerned about. It’s not one phase of the game. Defensively, we got our ass whooped.”
It could be pointed out that this team wasn’t assembled to win anything at all.
But you have to wonder about this coaching staff’s ability to put together a cohesive plan and muster a competent effort.
You think of coach Brian Flores’ TNT gimmick that has players doing punitive runs in practice after mistakes that “take no talent.” Then you see a successful onside kick nullified by an offside penalty.
You also wonder about the decisions to get rid of certain players who supposedly weren’t in step with the program.
Such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, who after a short week of practice with the Steelers had an interception and forced a fumble in his debut at safety with Pittsburgh.
Mixed bag for Rosen
The expression on owner Steve Ross’ face during the second half in Dallas was one of “What have I done?” Yes, he was the one who ordered the drastic measures that have this season on course for historic futility.
Rosen, getting his first start for Miami, provided an intriguing reason to watch, and he was 11 of 22 for 156 yards in the first half, even with the drops. The second half went nowhere, and he finished 18 for 39 for 200 yards. No interceptions, at least.
“Some good, some bad. I’d say right in the middle,” Rosen said in evaluating his performance.
Rosen had to go off for an obligatory concussion evaluation and was fortunate he was well enough to be able to return.
The offensive line, already subpar, had left tackle Jesse Davis and right guard Danny Isidora go out with injuries.
The bottom line, the Dolphins have one touchdown in three games.
Perhaps it is a mistake to try to assess these Dolphins in the context of real games. Because what we’re seeing every Sunday feels unreal.
Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns
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