Are the Miami Dolphins on the Way Out? Osweiler and the Defense

Maybe we knew it wouldn’t last. At the beginning of the season, the Miami Dolphins were leading their division thanks to three wins and two early losses by the Patriots. After Week 7, they were holding tight at second place in the AFC East with a precarious record of 4-3. So what can we expect from the Dolphins as the season progresses and their schedule gets more challenging? Well, never say never, but after that loss to the Lions at home last Sunday, it’s safe to say we have our doubts.

Here are a couple of reasons why people are losing faith in the Miami Dolphins…

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Their Quarterback Options Aren’t Great

In a league of epic offenses and spectacular, young, big-armed quarterbacks, the Dolphins are lagging behind. They don’t have that stud quarterback. In fact, it barely seems like they have a true starting quarterback at all.

Ryan Tannehill is was the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback. But if you’ve been watching lately, you’ve probably seen a lot of this guy Brock Osweiler. (Oh, you haven’t heard good things? That’s not surprising.) Tannehill blew out his knee and missed the entire 2017 season, and despite that, the Dolphins failed to draft a replacement quarterback. But now Tannehill has continued to miss games this season too.

They picked up Osweiler in the offseason, giving him a one-year contract to become their backup quarterback – it was never for a shot at the starting position. However, lots of experts argue that even a healthy Tannehill isn’t a great option for the Dolphins because he may never grow into that outstanding the Dolphins need and he doesn’t do well under pressure. Perhaps he’s just not a long-term solution for the team.

With Tannehill at the helm, the Dolphins lost two very ugly games back to back against the Patriots (38-7) and the Bengals (27-17). When the team blew a 17-point lead in the final 21 minutes in Cincinnati, Tannehill took responsibility for the Dolphins’ collapse. This prompted questions about whether he would remain the Dolphin’s starting quarterback, to which Head Coach Adam Gase responded in the affirmative.

Now, Tannehill is out again recovering from a shoulder injury. He isn’t expected back until the Dolphins play the Jets on November 4th… if then. Reports about his condition are a little fishy.

So “Brocktober” officially started his third game with the Dolphins last Thursday.

About Brock Osweiler

Osweiler had the perfect opportunity to get revenge on his former team, the Houston Texans, by simply performing. They really hate him in Houston. He played for the Texans for one year before being traded to the Cleveland Browns at the end of the season in a textbook salary dump. His former teammate, Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney, made news when he commented on Osweiler before Thursday’s game: “He ain’t here no more, so I don’t really care for him. We didn’t win a lot with him. Trying to go against him now, just trying to get after him this week up front and rattle him in the pocket and hope he throws a couple picks.”

Oh no.

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Osweiler is making $880,000 this year with the Dolphins, compared to the $21 million he made with the Texans. To be fair, he’s playing better with the Dolphins – not that that’s saying much – having completed 54 of 80 passes for 654 yards and six touchdowns this season. And he’s only thrown two interceptions so far… compared to his 16 with Houston.

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Osweiler is pretty accurate, smart, and tough. He says his mechanics have improved since he switched teams too. Supposedly, his new teammates like him because he’s positive, confident, and not Jay Cutler, the veteran quarterback who replaced Tannehill last season and stayed in a hotel during his entire stint in Miami… so there’s that.

Osweiler threw for a career-high 380 yards against the Bears in his first start, leading the team to victory in an amazing game that went into overtime. The argument is that Osweiler is simply not elite and the Dolphins need a real starting quarterback solution. He had two games with over a passer rating over 100, but that game against the Lions didn’t go as planned.

It’s not all his fault either. He has very few playmakers to work with, and things won’t be getting better on that front any time soon since wide receiver Kenny Stills strained his groin and Albert Wilson’s incurred a season-ending hip injury in that Detroit game.

Their Defense Isn’t Great

In Week 7 on Sunday against the Lions, the Dolphins defense gave up 248 rushing yards and a season-worst 12 rushing first downs and 7.1 yards per carry. In fact, the Lions had their best rushing game in 21 years. Miami has had a lot of defensive injuries they can blame it on, but that’s not the only problem.

The defense often looked like they were guessing – always a step late, failing to fill gaps, and not holding their ground against Detroit. Defensive end Robert Quinn, who was brought on from the Rams to rush the passer, has only had one sack this season. The Dolphins linebackers were slow and looked anxious as they failed to stop the run. In one instance, linebacker Raekwon McMillan was a step late blocking Kerryon Johnson, which resulted in a 71-yard run. Ouch.

And just when we were about the write off the Lions too…

According to Gase, “It was bad. We have to clean up a lot of stuff. We have to get on the same page and everybody needs to make sure they play as a group. We just did not do a good job of all three levels working together … They gutted us on defense. There were too many big holes.”

The thing is, they only had three days to “clean up a lot of stuff” before playing the Texans on Thursday.

Thursday’s Game…

The 7.5-point underdog Dolphins played the Texans at NRG Stadium and all eyes were on the Houston’s J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans came into it having won four straight games.

Miami’s defense really needed to step up if they were going to win this one, and they couldn’t do it. They basically collapsed (again) at the hands of Houston’s explosive offense and running game. Osweiler played well, but with receivers Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills out, it was hard for them to outscore an unstoppable Texans team. With a near blowout loss of 42-23, the Dolphins now stand at an even more precarious 4-4. Maybe next week?

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So what do you think? Is there hope for the Miami Dolphins this season?