Finding ways to lose
The Dolphins haven’t played like the worst team in the league. I can name six that have looked worse overall — Indy, Kansas City, Seattle, Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Denver.
Miami never takes advantage of opportunities and finds ways to lose in the fourth quarter. They outplayed the Browns but couldn’t put them away. They played tough against Houston, New England, and San Diego but couldn’t make the big plays.
This has been a theme of the Tony Sparano era. The Dolphins often “looks” better than their record. Sparano is 14-22 since 2009. At some point competing isn’t enough.
Firing Sparano doesn’t make sense during the season because the Dolphins don’t have a logical replacement. Miami has poured resources into a talented defense that looked like a potential top-five group heading into the season. While the schedule has been tough, Miami has been one of the worst defenses in the league.
The cornerbacks were supposed to stand out; they have been average. Cameron Wake is doing his thing, but the rest of the linebacker group including Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett have struggled. The deep defensive line has been ordinary.
The Dolphins defense was built to carry the team and it’s brought the team down instead.
Sparano’s biggest embarrassment
Tony Sparano is supposed to be an offensive line guy. Despite the presence of Jake Long, Miami’s line has been a rotating mess for years. It hasn’t improved this year and even Long is struggling. One bright spot: center Mike Pouncey has been a strong addition.
Bush is a bust
Reggie Bush is a disappointment for the money they are paying, although it’s hardly a surprise. He’s moderately helpful as a receiver, but a disaster as a runner and blocker. Don’t expect him to last more than a year in Miami.
Sucking for Luck is realistic
I wrote earlier the Dolphins have played better than their record indicates. But the loss of starting quarterback Chad Henne and a brutal schedule makes Miami a strong candidate for the No. 1 overall pick next year. They would be lucky to go 4-8 the rest of the way.
Perhaps bottoming out (again) is what the Dolphins need.