No much pos­i­tive out of Mon­day’s poor ef­fort

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS -

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.

Coach­ing: D

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.

Chris Perkins

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