It was another bad loss for the Miami Dolphins Sunday. Yes, they are still alive for a playoff spot, but—let’s be realistic—this team isn’t going to the playoffs. They have three teams in front of them and two of them play each other in the regular season finale. Yes, the Dolphins have two winnable games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills, but the Dolphins have been so unpredictable this year, it’s hard to trust them to win two in a row with this mash unit.
It was tough to see Frank Gore get hurt Sunday. He has been fun to watch this year in how he continues to play at a high level at age 34. He is the consummate professional and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, at least in my mind. As sad as it was to see Gore go down, it was good to see Kalen Ballage get an extended look at running back. He showed a glimpse of what he could do next year and beyond with his 75-yard touchdown run. I’m just glad he was able to get some carries in a more traditional set and not only in the Wildcat. To me, the Wildcat should be scrapped from the playbook. Just line up and run the ball. We didn’t draft Ballage to be a Wildcat back and, if we did, someone needs their head examined just like when we drafted Pat White—that was a wasted pick. Ballage is more than that. He can run between the tackles and take it the distance like he showed yesterday and catch the ball out of the backfield. The Dolphins should look to use him more in their final two games and see what they have with him going into next year.
The biggest frustration that I have had with head coach Adam Gase is he continues to keep guard Issac Asiata and tackle Zach Sterup on the inactive list for game day. The bottom line for me is Ted Larsen isn’t your left guard of the future. Yes, he had that great block on the two-lateral miracle, but he hasn’t performed well all season long and the Dolphins should move on from him after the season. The Dolphins drafted Asiata in the 5th round of the 2017 draft to be a left guard. The Dolphins haven’t activated him let alone play him in a regular season game unless injuries have forced the issue, but it’s time for the Dolphins to take stock of what they have moving forward. He is a very good run blocker and he struggles with pass protection, but the Dolphins gave up nine sacks yesterday, so what do they have to lose? Just play him and see how he does in live games. You never know, he could be a building block on this offensive line and to me the Dolphins have nothing to lose and everything to gain by playing him. Sterup was decent when given the opportunity at left tackle when Laremy Tunsil went down, but he’s always inactive. The last time Tunsil went down was against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dolphins went to Sam Young who was a train wreck replacing him because Gase was too stubborn to keep Sterup activated. Sterup can be a good backup or maybe the Dolphins could try him at right tackle in case they lose Ja’Waun James this off season, but we won’t know if we don’t try.
The Dolphins should also give Jonathan Woodard a look on the defensive line. The most disappointing unit this season has been the defensive line and Dolphins should rebuild it this off season. Robert Quinn and Andre Branch should both be released after the season as they both commit $20 million against the cap and the Dolphins aren’t getting a return on their investment. Cameron Wake is going to be 37 years old next year and is also more expensive than his level of play. Woodard has been on the inactive list all year long and, just like with Sterup and Asiata, the Dolphins need to see what they have in live games with him.
I would love to be wrong about the Dolphins not making the playoffs, but I feel I’ve seen this song and dance for the last 20 years and the Dolphins need to see what they have in these young players. If the Dolphins’ philosophy is to draft and develop, then they should be giving these players a chance to get their feet wet. If they fail, well, then they have to look elsewhere, which is what they should do anyway just in case.