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Now, there are only questions.
How could this happen? How could the Dolphins lose to the Jets on Sunday and Buffalo the week before? How could they let their season end this way? How could they fail to produce when the stakes were so high? How? Why?
Indeed, these Dolphins have a lot of explaining to do. That’s what happens when your season is filled with so much promise and then, just two weeks later, filled with so much despair. That’s what happens when the mistakes pile up, when the offense can’t produce important first downs and when the defense can’t come up with game-defining moments.
You look at the entire body of work, you analyze a final record that screams average, and the conclusion you draw is really very simple: The Dolphins don’t deserve a spot in the postseason. Not the way they finished the season. Not the way they played against the Jets.
Through the first three weeks of December, the Dolphins looked like a playoff team. Played like a playoff team. And then, just as quickly, it all disappeared. The important plays. The confidence. The execution. Everything. The Dolphins scored a total of seven points in the final two games and that probably tells you everything you need to know.
“You have to earn your way into the playoffs,” said coach Joe Philbin. “We didn’t do that.”
No, instead they regressed. Instead they saved their worst for last. Instead they simply did not respond the way quality teams do.
“There are no words to describe how I feel right now,” said veteran defensive tackle Jared Odrick, his head down, his voice barely audible. “I just don’t know what to say.”
What needs to be said is this: This team underperformed. Yes, even when you consider the problems on the offensive line. You look at the roster and they are clearly better than both the Bills and Jets. Now the tough part is trying to figure out why they didn’t play like it.
How could Ryan Tannehill get outplayed by both Thad Lewis and Geno Smith over these last two Sundays after out-dueling Tom Brady the Sunday before that? It just doesn’t make sense.
How could the running game struggle so badly? How could the defense be so porous against the run? How could a fourth-and-one handoff to Charles Clay produce minus yardage when all he needed was a couple of inches?
Yes, so many players failed to step up. Rishard Matthews drops a huge third down pass. Tannehill throws a pick deep in Jets territory. Why, even Brandon Fields shanked his first punt of the season. The list goes on and on.
And then there was that long pass to Mike Wallace. The Dolphins were up 7-0 thanks to a short Wallace touchdown catch a few minutes before. Momentum was theirs for the taking; the Jets seemed ready to go down. So Wallace runs a takeoff and like so many times this season he has a clear step on the defender. But, like so many times this season, Tannehill fails to connect, his pass sailing a few precious inches beyond Wallace’s reach.
“We make that play and we are up 14-0 and it’s a different game,” Wallace said. “We play differently up 14-0 and the Jets play differently.”
The bright lights make Wallace squint. You could tell, like so many of his teammates, he has run out of reasons. “I’ve got to do more,” he said. “We all have to do more. We have to play with more hunger. We have too much talent to be 8-8.”
Too much talent to be 8-8. That may be the one line that best sums up the 2013 Dolphins. You look at what happened against the Bills and then the Jets and you try to make sense of it all. You try to understand how a team with so much on the line, a team playing at home, a team with an early 7-0 lead, can let it all slip away.
“The responsibility starts with the head coach,” said Philbin.
And Philbin, no doubt, will have plenty on his plate during the months ahead. You can’t stand pat when you finish 8-8. You’ve got to make changes. You’ve got to adjust. You’ve got to do plenty of soul-searching. You’ve got to get a feel for why this team had nothing left at the finish.
Right now all we have are questions. So many questions and, sadly, so few answers.
- Dolphins Season Comes To An End With Loss To Jets
- Dolphins-Jets Postgame Notes
- Three Observations From The Loss To The Jets
- 2014 Opponents And Locations Now Set For Miami
- Photo Gallery: Top Action Photos: Dolphins-Jets Game
- Video: Game Highlights: Jets At Dolphins
- Video: HIGHLIGHT: Wallace 5YD TD Catch
- Video: Philbin’s Postgame Comments
- Video: Tannehill Speaks After Jets Game
- Video: Wallace Speaks After Jets Game
- Video: Wake Recaps 2013 Season
- Video: Odrick Discusses 8-8 Year
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.