Dolphins Struggles Show Promise And Concern

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

The Miami Dolphins struggles continued on Monday night in Pittsburgh as they blew an early 14-0 lead with some baffling calls, and lack of talent all around.

With the rebuild in full swing, and after the announcement of the trade of Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals, the Dolphins took to the field looking to show progress against another team suffering through a difficult start to the season.

Off To A Flyer

For the second week in a row, the Dolphins got off to a good start, taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and getting good pressure on Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. Rudolph returning from a concussion looked shaky early on and struggled to find his rhythm, and the Dolphins took full advantage.

It also showed that, particularly over the last 3 weeks, the Dolphins struggles do not extend to their game preparation. Clearly coach Flores and his team had the team well prepped, and on the same page for how to beat the Steelers.

In one of the most bizarre calls of the season, however, the Dolphins sent an eight-man blitz at Mason Rudolph on a 3rd-and-20 on the Dolphins 45 yard line. With under a minute to play in the first half, and up 14-3, it was a bizarre situation, and the Steelers capitalised to send the game to 14-10 at the half.

The Steelers made adjustments at half-time, getting Rudolph to take advantage of the Dolphins corners playing far too far off the receivers, and leaving an extra player in to nullify the impact of the Dolphins pass rush.

With the distinct lack of talent on this roster, courtesy of Chris Grier, the only way the Dolphins struggles will end is with great coaching. And, for whatever reason, the Dolphins are being outcoached at half-time in games.

Fitzpatrick Is Still Fitzpatrick

On the 10th of October Brian Flores name Josh Rosen the starter for the remainder of the season. After a very poor showing against the Redskins, Rosen was pulled in the second half, and just 3 days after being named the starter he was out, and Fitzpatrick has started both games since.

Ryan Fitzpatrick showed a microcosm of his career in this game, with two interceptions and two fumbles (one lost). In the first half, he looked stellar, in the second he struggled with accuracy as the Steelers pressure became too much to handle.

Dolphins Struggles epitomised by QB situation © Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Dolphins Struggles epitomised by QB situation © Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

This is no surprise, and no one is suggesting that he is the long term answer at quarterback.

However, his continued starting still seems contrary to the Dolphins ethos this season. Trading second and fifth-round picks for Josh Rosen, and then not playing him is head-scratching.

As it stands the Dolphins have traded away two draft picks for a player they still don’t have enough of an evaluation of to know if he’s the long-term solution.

The quarterbacks have been set-up to fail on this team, and whether you believe Rosen is the answer or not, you have to have sympathy for him for being on his second dumpster fire team in his two years in the NFL.

Dolphins Struggles Run Deep

The early game performance showed us the upside of Brian Flores. Clearly a meticulous preparer this bodes well for the Dolphins going forward. However, the inability to make adjustments in the second half is a huge concern. Injuries can be used as an excuse somewhat on defence, but this is the second week in a row the team has fallen off a cliff in the second half.

Progress has definitely been made by the coaching staff over the first 7 games of the season. When we look back to the humiliating blowout loss to the Ravens in week one, the team is almost unrecognisable.

However, real progress will only be made if the team dramatically improves its talent evaluation process, and begins drafting more consistently.

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