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Tennessee Titans Feed Miami Dolphins A Dose Of Reality

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Welcome back to reality, Miami Dolphins.

They forged a seven-game winning streak against the likes of the New York Giants, New York Jets (twice) and Houston Texans. The Dolphins got back in the playoff race against teams with a combined 31-59 record.

But on Sunday the Dolphins ran into a legitimately good team and the reality of it all was ugly and sobering for Brian Flores’s team.

Tennessee Titans 34.

Dolphins 3.

Only Antonio Brown had a worse day this early part of the NFL day.

“Look, anytime you don’t have the performance you’re looking for, you’re disappointed,” Flores said.

The Dolphins, the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoff race when the day began, are now 8-8 and their playoff hopes are really of a secondary concern because this team has unmasked itself for what it truly is: Mediocre.

That’s the very definition of an 8-8 record.

Even if Miami were to make it into the postseason because this season adds an extra team in the tournament and a 17th game that presents a chance to rise above .500, this team is clearly not good enough to do damage against the league’s better teams.

The Dolphins, you see, are an incomplete team. In Year 3 of the Brian Flores-Chris Grier tenure this team still has not figured out how to be consistent on offense

Yes, their defense is good — maybe even very good against some teams.

But the offense is — looking for a diplomatic way to say this — horrible.

The Dolphins offense was unable to mount any consistency against the Titans. Their inability to do any damage on the ground was surpassed only by the passing game’s ineptitude against a good Tennessee defense.

The Titans, you should know, got 2 TD passes and 127.1 efficiency rating from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. It was a solid but not amazing 120-yard passing performance for the former Dolphin starter.

But the Tennessee run game made Miami’s recent use of zero blitzes a non-factor.

And yet Miami’s former quarterback made Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa seem overmatched by comparison.

Tagovailoa, meanwhile, threw an interception that the Titans converted into a touchdown. He threw a couple of other passes into the hands of Tennessee defenders as his passes sailed in the rain and sleet.

And he fumbled a couple of times, with one of those costing the Dolphins 3 points because the Titans turned the field position into a field goal.

Tagovailoa had one good throw all game — a 45-yard connection to rookie Jaylen Waddle — that otherwise belied his inability to complete even half his passes.

Said another way: In the Dolphins biggest game of the season, Tua Tagovailoa turned in one of his worst games.

The Miami running game was equally absent, managing only 74 yards. Afterward a reporter asked running back Duke Johnson if the field condition was perhaps the reason for the struggle.

Nope.

“It was a field,” Johnson said, seemingly dismissing the idea the elements on the field were an excuse.

“They had the same elements we had,” Flores said.

The lack of offensive support, which showed itself even during the winning streak, eventually led to the Dolphins’ defense collapsing.

D’Onta Foreman gained 132 yards on 26 carries. Dontrell Hilliard contributed 45 yards on 8 carries. Both scored on long TD runs.

“We got to tip our hats off to Tennessee,” linebacker Elandon Roberts said.

The Dolphins season is not over. But they cannot get into the playoffs without beating the New England Patriots in the season-finale and having other teams also lose.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

3 Comments

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  1. Armando: Remember the last time you decided that a Dolphins QB was not good enough?
    The year was 2013. The QB was named Ryan Tannehill.
    The Dolphins did not take your advice until 2018. But every time the Dolphins lost a game your blamed the loss on Tannehill. For four freaking years.
    Tannehill might not ever be a SB QB. But he was not one of the top five problems Miami was having.
    Tannehill has a 29-13 record and two division titles since the Dolphins took your advice.
    Tua had a really bad game today. No excuses.
    But let’s get him an OL and an OC before you write him off.

    • I agree. Asking any QB to do well in this junk horrible offense is a fool’s errand. I’m not sure Tua is the answer, but he’s not the problem in that offense. I don’t see any decent QB out there wanting to play in Miami for good reason. The offense is a half step above Jacksonville’s and has no continuity or creativity. When all you do with Jaylen Waddle is run 5 yard outs and WR screens something is wrong with the scheme. That dude runs a sub 4.4 and they’re using him as a possession receiver? That alone tells me they don’t know what they’re doing.

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