The Miami Dolphins' losing streak reached three games with their 27-17 loss against the Indianapolis Colts, an ugly affair where the score wasn't really reflective of how the game played out.
The Dolphins now find themselves with a 1-3 record and while we'll maintain that this wasn't a must-win game, it's pretty clear the 2021 season is fast approaching a crossroads, especially with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next on the schedule.
Several things seemed clear after watching a really, really rough game:
-- Dolphins players and coaches can talk all they want about execution and mistakes, but it also should be pretty clear that all those mistakes are magnified because the team maybe isn't as good as everybody thought heading into the 2021 season and this is a team that simply doesn't have much of a margin for error.
-- The streak of games with at least one takeaway is great and all, but it didn't come from the defense in the game against the Colts but rather from the special teams. The defense still doesn't look as good as it did in 2020, though it's fair to wonder how much of it has to do with just how poor the offense has been and having to carry the day on a weekly basis.
-- Speaking of the offense, here's a great example of how stats can lie: Jacoby Brissett finished the game with a 107.5 passer rating. That came as a result of him completing 66.7 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and no picks. But Brissett clearly didn't perform like a 107.5 passer rating because there clearly were some off-target throws and everything was short in the first three quarters. To be fair, Brissett didn't necessarily have great pass protection and there were a couple of drops, notably by DeVante Parker, who seemed to make all the contested catches but failed to come up with the easy ones.
-- Brissett has now gone two complete games without an interception, which is good but also understandable since he throws short so often, but he needs to get rid of his nasty habit of trying to make something happen at all cost to avoid a sack. It's what produced his fumble against the Colts.
-- Where Tua Tagovailoa should make the biggest difference once he returns to the lineup — now expected to be in Week 6 — is the ability to get rid of the ball quickly. That will lessen the pressure on the offensive line and should at least get the offense pointed in the right direction.
-- Malcolm Brown again starting at running back seems odd because Myles Gaskin clearly looks like the better player, but maybe that speaks about the lack of confidence in the offensive line to open holes for the running game and also the need for backs to help out in protection. Then again, it doesn't really matter who the Dolphins are using because the running game remains largely ineffective and becomes a non-factor rather quickly.
-- While it wasn't a great day for the defense, it was encouraging to see Jaelan Phillips really be a factor for the first time this season. And his performance shouldn't be tarnished by the facemask penalty for which he was called in the fourth quarter because that was a flat-out bad call.
-- Finally, and this is a sobering way to end, maybe expectations were just too high for this Dolphins team. Maybe producing a 10-6 record in 2020 wasn't a proper reflection of the talent on the roster and maybe expecting the team to be able to take the next step was overly optimistic. It's obviously easy to say that after the disappointing effort against the Colts, but, yes, there is a lot of football left to be played in 2021. It's just not looking very good right now.