No much positive out of Monday’s poor effort
This was a rough one. Miami was pounded by Carolina, 45-21, allowing the most points they’ve given up all year while losing a third consecutive game. The Dolphins (4-5) will most likely have to win five of their final seven games to be in the AFC wild-card picture. The problem remains the offense, which is last in the NFL in scoring. The offensive line got left guard Ted Larsen back from a biceps injury but it didn’t seem to help.
The story was similar on the defensive side of the ball where safety T.J. McDonald made his season debut and had a teamhigh nine tackles, but the defense had its worst performance of the year.
It was previously thought this was a defense-led team. But if Monday’s performance against the Panthers is anything more than a hiccup, the final seven weeks are going to involve the Dolphins searching for something that works.
Here is the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s report card, evaluating how the Dolphins performed against the Panthers:
Passing game: D
Quarterback Jay Cutler (22 of 37, 213 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) had an 82.4 passer rating as he often found himself throwing to green grass instead of receivers. It’s unclear whether the majority of those miscommunications were the fault of Cutler or his receivers but there were too many incidents of Cutler’s passes not being anywhere close to a receiver. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack, which was good, but wide receivers Jarvis Landry (five receptions, 42 yards, 1 TD), Kenny Stills (five receptions, 67 yards) and DeVante Parker (six receptions, 66 yards) weren’t factors, which is bad.
Running game: F
There was nothing here aside from the 66-yard touchdown run by Kenyan Drake, who totaled 82 yards on seven carries. Fellow running back Damien Williams (nine carries, 19 yards) didn’t do much, and Miami totaled 100 yards rushing on 17 carries but without Drake’s long run the Dolphins rushed for only 34 yards on 16 carries. That’s ugly.
Defending the pass: D
Quarterback Cam Newton (21 of 35, 254 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) had a sterling 120.4 passer rating and had no problem finding open receivers. Devin Funchess (five receptions, 92 yards, 2 TDs) had lots of success as did tight end Ed Dickson. Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard was called for a pass interference in the end zone for the second consecutive game and the pass rush didn’t record a sack. Miami must keep tighter coverage when playing zone and be more disciplined in man-to-man defense.
Defending the run: F
The Dolphins allowed a whopping 294 yards rushing, which approached a franchise record. The bad thing is this unit entered the game No. 10 in the NFL (94 yards allowed per game). Running back Jonathan Stewart (17 carries, 110 yards) had no problem finding holes and Newton (95 yards rushing) ripped off a 69-yard gain. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne (seven carries, 68 yards) also had no problem finding holes. This was easily the most surprising and disappointing aspect of the game for the Dolphins.
Special teams: C
There wasn’t much to see here. Kicker Cody Parkey didn’t attempt a field goal but went 3 for 3 on extra points. Punter Matt Haack (four punts, 41.8 yards per punt) struggled a bit. Kickoff returner Senorise Perry had a 29-yard return to open the game but didn’t do a whole lot to improve field position. The coverage units turned in a decent performance.
Coach Adam Gase and his staff weren’t able to make any adjustments in the second half, and things went downhill quickly early in the third quarter as the Panthers extended their 17-7 halftime lead to 31-7 to essentially seal the victory. If the defense isn’t rock solid, there’s not much hope for this team to win many more games. They must get back to playing good defense Sunday because the offense doesn’t seem as though it’ll find answers any time soon.
Stock up: Jesse Davis
No one was sure how Davis, the former starting left guard, would fare in his first start a right tackle but considering he didn’t allow a sack you’d have to say he fared relatively well. Davis wasn’t perfect but he was good enough that the coaches aren’t searching for a new right tackle today.
Stock down: Jay Cutler
This was a night when Miami needed a strong performance from its quarterback and it didn’t happen. Cutler might have sealed Miami’s fate with his interception late in the second quarter that led to Carolina taking a 17-7 halftime lead. Gase liked how Cutler played in his previous two games, but there wasn’t much to like Monday.
Jesse Davis was moved from left guard to right tackle and did a decent job against the Panthers.