Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores once fired a brand new offensive line coach the first week of training camp. So when he knows something’s wrong, he’s not one to sit on his hands.
Which means changes could — and probably should — be coming after four very ugly weeks for Miami. The Dolphins lost for the third straight time Sunday, 27-17 to the Indianapolis Colts, because they can’t move the ball, and they can’t score.
Miami Dolphins’ season on the brink at 1-3
The offense’s sickness is now infecting the entire franchise, with at least one key starter who’s in the prime of his career mulling if he even wants to play beyond this season. Not for the Dolphins. Football in general.
“I think we have to take a look at everything,” Flores Sunday said after his team gained all of 203 yards and 13 first downs.
“We will take a look at everything, but I would say it’s really across the board. Offense, defense, special teams starts with me, coaching. I got to do a better job. I know I say that every week.
“I don’t want to come up here and say that every week, but I got to do a better job of figuring out a way to help us play better than that. But we also got to play better, and we’re out there taking turns making mistakes in all three phases, and it’s not enough. It’s not good enough.”
If Flores is indeed committed to looking at everything, he should start with who’s calling the plays on offense.
Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly who deserves blame because Flores won’t tell us who calls those plays. George Godsey, the team’s tight ends coach in 2020, and Eric Studesville, a career position coach, share the offensive coordinator title. But Bill Belichick and Jon Gruden have both said bluntly that Godsey is calling the plays, so we’ll believe them.
Perhaps Sunday’s showing against the Colts will be enough for Flores to make a switch and give Studesville — or even quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye — a crack at it. It can’t be any worse than what we’ve seen the last three weeks.
Sunday was brutal. But it wasn’t anything new. The Dolphins in Week 2 were shut out by the Bills — and lost their quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, to a rib injury in the process — and had 7 points from their offense through 51 minutes in Week 3.
“Really hard to watch,” Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka tweeted while Miami’s Week 3 loss to the Raiders was in progress. “#Dolphins have so many weaknesses.”
Deshaun Watson to Dolphins trade brewing?
Offensive play-calling is one of those weaknesses. Opposing players since Week 1 have privately marveled at how rudimentary Miami’s system is. Yes, Jacoby Brissett — who started his second straight game Sunday and has needed 119 passing attempts to manage 583 passing yards — is an inferior player to Tagovailoa. But it’s not like Tua was exactly lighting it up before he got hurt. Tua’s QBR this season is a garish 22.5 after an ugly 44.8 rating as a rookie.
Here’s the part of the column where we bring up the name Deshaun Watson. The Dolphins remain very much interested in the Houston Texans quarterback. However, they aren’t yet willing to part with what the Texans say it will take to acquire him. Will that change after Sunday’s loss? Perhaps. But it would be a sign of desperation.
Now, back to the players actually on the roster. The offensive line is one of the league’s worst despite GM Chris Grier using a ton of draft capital on the position in the last three years. Their running backs scare no one. Yet, there are weapons on the outside. Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Will Fuller, and DeVante Parker all have big-play ability. They just have not been put in a position to make big plays.
Waddle’s usage has been embarrassing. Keep in mind he was one of college football’s most dynamic players, and the Dolphins used two first-round selections to take him No. 6 overall. And yet, he’s averaging 8 yards per catch through four NFL games. And even that figure is skewed by one 36-yard play.
Miami’s offense hasn’t been explosive in decades, but they’ve been more than competent in the recent past. The offense absolutely hummed in comparison when Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center last year. The Dolphins have been lifeless the last two weeks until they’re in a rally mode. Why not open the offense up sooner?
Godsey and Studesville are the Dolphins’ third and fourth offensive coordinators in three years. Flores fired longtime friend Chad O’Shea after one season. Chan Gailey quit after 12 months after Flores — who can be tough to work for and doesn’t have a ton of connections outside of the Patriots’ coaching tree — talked him into coming out of retirement. The Dolphins conducted a real search for Gailey’s replacement but decided that the combination of Godsey and Studesville was the right way forward.
After yet another ugly day on offense, it would be strange if he isn’t having second thoughts.
The fallout from the 1-3 start
Flores cannot afford to wait too long to get this figured out. Stephen Ross fired Adam Gase and Mike Tannenbaum three years into a reclamation process. It’s Year 3 of the Miami Dolphins’ latest rebuild, and there’s an argument to be made that the franchise is in worse shape now than it was then.