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NFL 2017/18: Examining Miami Dolphins' recurrent struggles

Delving deep into the reasons behind Miami's inconsistent showing thus far.

Feature 28 Nov 2017, 01:05 IST

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots

In a nutshell, Miami Dolphins' tryst with the 2017/18 NFL season has been a roller coaster and a major disappointment. Week one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was postponed because of Hurricane Irma in Miami. As a consequence, the Dolphins started week one on a bye. They started the season with two successive defeats before proceeding to win four straight games.

Ever since they lost 0-40 to the Baltimore Ravens, the wheels have fallen off for the Dolphins. Miami decided to trade running back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round pick. The decision has turned out to be a major mistake in judgement.

Also Read: NFL 2017/18 - Top 10 teams entering week 12

The running backs for the Dolphins now are Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. Williams has 181 rushing yards on 46 carries. He also has caught 20 passes for 155 yards receiving and a touchdown in the season thus far. Due to a stifling shoulder injury, Williams is expected to be out next week and maybe the week after as well.

As a result, Drake will probably be the every down back. He has rushed for 200 yards on 42 carries and a touchdown. Drake also caught 15 passes for 89 yards receiving and a touchdown so far this season.

The running game has taken a hit but the quarterback play has not been very good. Jay Cutler was signed to a one-year deal because of the torn ACL to Ryan Tannehill. Cutler has completed 175-of-271 passes for 1,602 yards 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. It looks like Cutler has mentally checked out for the foreseeable future.

Matt Moore has completed 78 out of 127 passes spanning across 861 yards including four touchdowns and five interceptions. It is more than likely that the Miami Dolphins will draft a quarterback in the first round. If the season were to end now, they would be picking eigthth overall. It is possible that they could draft Mason Rudoplh (Oklahoma State), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) or Josh Allen (Wyoming).

Weak defense adding to Miami's woes

The Dolphins have a very good receiving core with Jarvis Landry (75 catches, 637 yards and 6 touchdowns), Kenny Stills (43 catches, 635 yards 5 touchdowns) and DeVante Parker (35 catches, 409 yards 1 touchdown). With as many as 34 catches for 342 yards receiving and two touchdowns, Julius Thomas has been a good tight end.

Miami's biggest problem might be their defense. They are ranked 21st in the NFL in total team defense. Cameron Wake has 8.0 sacks this season and the rest of the team have 10 between them. The Dolphins need another pass rusher to go with Wake as he is not getting any younger.

Reshad Jones is a good player in the secondary with 80 tackles and two interceptions. The Dolphins have only four interceptions as a team, so far in this season. They have given up 289 points which is joint-second worst in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns.

Extra Cover: Is it time for Patrick Mahomes to start in Kansas City?

The funny thing is that if Miami Dolphins were able to run the table which appears to be quite improbable, they could make the playoffs with a 9-7 record in a weak AFC. Miami's final five games are as follows - versus Denver (3-8), versus New England (9-2), at Buffalo (6-5), at Kansas City (6-5) and versus Buffalo (6-5).

Realistically, the Dolphins could finish the season with either a 4-12, 5-11, or a 6-10 record. The blame game for inconsistent run cannot be placed on Adam Gase. Chris Grier, the general manager, deserves most of the blame for the team's dismal showing. It is imperative that he finds a franchise quarterback and a few pass rushers in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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