Miami’s Destiny Defeated

For the second season in a row, the Dolphins went into week 17 in pole position for the final AFC Wildcard playoff spot with their destiny in their own hands. Granted this season has an extra game and an expanded format which created an extra playoff spot, but still, all they had to do was win out and they were in. It sounds so easy when people say it that way: “Win and they’re in,” as if winning in the NFL is easy or a given. The odds are not in your favor no matter how much of your own destiny you think you control when you have to go on the road in a cold bad weather game against arguably one of the best teams in the conference. The odds are not in your favor when Dolphins teams historically always play horribly in cold bad weather games with a playoff berth on the line. Just flashback to week 17 of last season when the Phins went up to Western New York with everything to play for and got destroyed by a Buffalo Bills team that should have been resting their starters.

The odds were not in the Dolphins’ favor when it became apparent that because of earlier heartbreaking field goal at the buzzer losses to the Raiders, Jaguars, and the Falcons that meant that the Dolphins would have to go undefeated in their final ten games to have a chance. Ten wins in a row after losing seven of your first eight including a seven-game losing streak…who does that? No one does that. The Dolphins were not going to do that. We all knew that. We all knew that they were not going up to Nashville and knocking off the now #1 seeded Titans, but we dared to hope in our hearts against what our heads already knew to be true: the 2021-2022 Miami Dolphins were not a playoff team and they did not deserve to be.

It hurts to say but it has to be said, and that was a condition of our own making. Coming into the season the Dolphins had all of the ingredients to be a playoff team if not more. They were returning a bend don’t break defense that gave teams fits by creating chaos and turnovers. They had a defensive identity of getting after the quarterback that was disruptive and very effective. This team was bringing back arguably one of the best receiving corps and a young developing quarterback who thrived on his accuracy and intelligence. The front office invested more draft capital in the offensive line to see if this season they could protect their young trigger man and get a respectable running game going. All of that blew up in week 2 when Tua got his ribs cracked due to poor offensive line play and we inexplicably were not playing to our defensive identity. Instead of pressuring the quarterback, we were trying to confuse quarterbacks with complex zone coverages, and it simply was not working.

The Dolphin defense was adrift for much of September and October as we watched them get uncharacteristically torched by Tom Brady for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns. Carson Wentz and Jonathan Taylor came down to Hard Rock and took all our cookies. Miami went to London and gave Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence their first NFL win. Miami lost to a bad Atlanta Falcons team and gave the previously winless Colts their first win. Yet still, Brian Flores stubbornly waited until his team was 1-7 before he decided to get back to the philosophy that made everyone so bullish on Miami to begin with. Tyrod Taylor and Lamar Jackson got destroyed and suddenly we recognized this Dolphin defense again. But was it too little too late? The margin for error was literally 0 percent, and while the 7-game winning streak was fun- we all knew that it had to come to an end eventually and that it would hurt when it did.


Tua Tagovailoa was not put in the best situation to win after being drafted #5 by the Miami Dolphins. He plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and has no complimentary running game to speak of. The icing on the cake is the receiving corps which was overly hyped in the offseason. Now that receiving corps has ended up being elite in dropping passes and missing games due to injury. Tua has played through pain, injuries, defensive pressure, constant pressure of being replaced by trade, and plays for a coach that he knows frankly wanted to draft a different guy. It’s not ideal by any stretch. With that said, after the trade deadline came and went, Tua knew he was on an extended audition to see if he could be the guy and stifle all of the smoke around Watson trade rumors. Tua doesn’t have a lot of toys on offense, but he does play opposite a very good defensive unit, and for two seasons in a row Tua was given the chance to show his worth at the end of the season and get his team into the playoffs and in both instances, he has played the worst football of his life.

Against the Titans, Tua was woefully inaccurate. It gave me flashbacks of that debacle in Buffalo last season. It was the first time I have witnessed Tua’s receivers become visibly frustrated with him for missing them when they were wide open. There’s no excuse for a left-handed quarterback who is rolling to his left to throw the ball at the feet of his big bodied wide receiver who is wide open and only 12 yards up the field on a 3rd and 9. It wasn’t a fluke either, it happened all game. He missed throws high. He missed throws low. He threw passes behind guys that should have been a score when he had good protection. He put the ball in harm’s way and gave the defense no break by completing them with an extended drive or momentum building score. Tua even earned himself a severe tongue lashing from his head coach for taking a silly sack that knocked his team out of field goal range when he had two receivers open on double slants but simply didn’t trust it enough to grip it and rip it.

I usually take liberties with my criticisms of the offensive line because they do make a lot of mistakes, but today was all on Tua. He was not ready for primetime today and it may eventually cost him his roster spot in Miami. I fully expect the Dolphins to kick every tire and turn over every stone to try and find a replacement for Tagovailoa next season. The franchise is convinced that he is not their franchise QB of the future and I frankly can’t blame B Flo for feeling that way. If I was this team’s head coach going into a season where it’s probably a make the playoffs or else kind of year, I don’t know that I would want to leave my career in the hands of Tagovailoa either at this point. Tua needs more time to grow, develop, and heal. Unfortunately, time is not a commodity that Dolphins executives have right now. Thanks to the Chargers victory over the Broncos, the Dolphins are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Now all the Dolphins have to play for is being spoilers for New England’s playoff hopes. This is definitely not the ending to this season we all envisioned for this team. Everyone likes to say that controlling your own destiny is a great thing because you don’t have to depend on anyone else to make your dreams happen. But when you still have to win to get in and it’s all in your hands, then you are unequivocally the reason for your own destiny’s defeat.

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