The Miami Dolphins suffered another tough loss and their 7th in a row. This time it was to the Buffalo Bills, and it was their 7th straight loss to the divisional foe and their 7th straight defeat. Unlike the last game, the Dolphins put up a good effort and hung in with the Bills, but they didn’t capitalize on some scoring opportunities in the first half, and the Bills imposed their will in the 2nd half in a 26-11 win.

As a fan, I’m very disappointed with the way the season has gone and even depressed in some ways how a season filled with optimism going in has spiraled out of control. This has been as disappointing season of a season as I can ever remember especially coming off a 10-win season in which the team was a win away from making the playoffs and with a lot of promising young players. However, this team has regressed, and some of the young players expected to take a step forward have gone backwards to the point of is this rebuild from 3 years ago going to ever turned the corner, or is it time to hit the reset button again? The way I look at it is the Dolphins are 1-7 and should use the last nine games of the season; they should use it as a time to evaluate who is worth keeping moving forward and who should they cut their losses with and look to upgrade.

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The biggest position is obviously quarterback, whether it’s fair or not. Tua Tagovailoa has played in now 14 games, which is a small sample size, but fans, teams, and front offices expect to know right off the bat whether a young quarterback is ready to be their franchise quarterback or they move on after a short period. On top of that, the two other quarterbacks in the same class as Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, are both playing at a high level and showing their teams they are going to be franchise quarterbacks for years to come. The Herbert comparison is mainly under the microscope because he was drafted one pick after the Dolphins chose to take Tagovailoa. Quarterback classes are always judged year in and year out. Tagovailoa has been going through the motions for a lot of reasons, such as overcoming his fractured hip he suffered his junior year at Alabama, as well as missing time this year with broken ribs and a questionable supporting cast. Fans don’t want to hear excuses. They want results, and while Tagovailoa has played well this season in the four games played and improved from a year ago, the team isn’t winning, and whether it’s fair or not, the quarterback gets the blame if the team isn’t winning. Burrow, after missing most of last year with a knee injury, has his team, the Cincinnati Bengals at 5-3 poised for a potential playoff run. Herbert has the Los Angeles Chargers 4-3 and on top of the AFC West. The Dolphins, since the off-season has been rumored to be in discussions trying to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson, but with his legal issues, it will probably prevent any team from acquiring him until those issues are resolved, and with the trading deadline November 2nd, it looks unlikely. Tagovailoa has had to endure a lot of questions about it and it’s unfair to him to have to answer those questions, but it’s the NFL, and it’s a business, and there will be rumors out there. ESPN analyst Louis Riddick has said the Dolphins have failed Tagovailoa because they haven’t put good personnel around him on offense as compared to Burrow and Herbert. He’s right because Burrow has a top receiver in Jamar Chase and Tyler Boyd, as well as a cast of others. Herbert has all-pro receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. While Tagovailoa has had a receiving core decimated by injuries and the players the Dolphins have, the front office knew those players had durability issues. It’s been part of the reason the Dolphins haven’t prospered on offense with big plays.

The Dolphins’ top 4 receivers in DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Preston Williams, and Albert Wilson haven’t been on the field together at all this season or in training camp, so in a sense, this problem should have been seen coming. Tagovailoa is doing the best he can with his other receivers, but the Dolphins should take a long look at finding other receivers next year who can make big plays and don’t have durability concerns. Parker has had durability concerns ever since he was drafted in the first round in 2015. He is a very talented receiver, but he always has some nagging injuries like a hamstring or a groin. Parker had a good first half today, but in the second half had a key drop on a pass that was right on the money. Parker has had one good season since being drafted. I think now it’s time to move on either at the trade deadline or after the season because he isn’t reliable on a consistent basis. Fuller only signed a one-year contract and can stretch the field, but he had never played a full season since coming into the league. He’s only played in 2 games this season and was hurt all of training camp. It’s fair to say this was a bad signing, and after the season, he can walk. Williams has had his previous two seasons cut short by injury, and this year was brought along slowly, but he isn’t having an impact really other than the game against Tampa Bay hasn’t done much and didn’t make the trip to Buffalo for disciplinary actions. Just like Parker, he has the talent, but hasn’t been reliable. Then there’s Wilson, who had a great start to training camp and then got hurt, and he hasn’t had any impact this year at all. His contract expires after the season, and he can walk just like Fuller. The best playmakers the Dolphins have is Mike Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle. Waddle, I don’t believe, is being used to his talents, but that’s another story, and Gesicki has been getting better each week with Tagovailoa. The Dolphins need to look to add for playmakers that don’t have durability issues.

The other area that has failed the Dolphins has been the offensive line. I don’t know why but the Dolphins for the past decade hasn’t gotten it right no matter what they try. These signs of bad play were there all training camp and, in the preseason, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Austin Jackson has clearly been out-matched at left tackle, and while moving him inside to left guard has been better, it’s not ideal. Other guys like Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt, Solomon Kindley, and Michael Deiter were all drafted by this regime have struggled and haven’t developed into good players. Maybe some are playing out of position because Hunt played well at right tackle and the team felt he would be better at guard. The problem is veteran Jesse Davis is playing at right guard, and it’s clearly not his position. I think the Dolphins should move Davis inside to right guard and Hunt back to tackle. The other thing is after the season; the Dolphins should move on from Davis. He’s been with the team for five years, and he’s more a rotational player to and the Dolphins need more. The Dolphins also have to reevaluate everyone they have drafted on their line to see who’s worth keeping. I think the Dolphins should also take a long look into free agency and find some players on the offensive line that are leaders and solid players that can help lift this group because it’s been a problem for years.

The area of this team that has really regressed is the defense. Last year they were one of the top defenses in the league. This year it’s the complete offense. How does a defense go from 1st to worst in one year? Obviously, the Dolphins forced a lot of turnovers last year and maybe that had a lot to do with it, but the Dolphins had areas they were good in. Maybe the Dolphins got too cute to save some money under the cap by releasing leaders Bobby McCain and Kyle Van Knoy. The Dolphins are missing in action on defense. They aren’t getting off the field on 3rd down, tackling is poor at times, and other things. Their run defense is bad even though it’s been better in recent weeks. My biggest concern has been their lack of a pass rush. Last year they relied too much on their blitzing to get to the quarterback, and this year it looks like opponents have figured them out. With the lack of a pass rush, the secondary has been susceptible to big plays. I don’t care how good your secondary is if you don’t have a consistent pass rush at some point, your corners will give up plays. There have been some bright spots. Christian Wilkins is very quietly having a very good season and seems to be coming into his own after being drafted in the first round a few years ago. Emmanuel Ogbah, who led the team in sacks last year, might not have the sacks this year, but he is playing his tail off. Raekwon Davis has been solid, and his return has probably been a reason behind the run defense playing better. Rookie Jevon Holland has played well at safety. He might have a lapse here and there, but I’ve been encouraged by his play. Outside of that, players have regressed. Jerome Baker is struggling especially in coverage which is supposed to be a strong suit. He should be used more as a blitzer with his speed. Byron Jones and Xavien Howard have been bad, but their play needs to be better especially Howard since he wants his contract redone and I see him getting beat it seems like week in and week out. Eric Rowe the last few years has been solid covering the tight ends, but this year his play has fallen off, and teams are picking on him. The Dolphins have some good players on defense, but something is clearly missing. The Dolphins after the season need to find a middle linebacker that can run sideline to sideline and diagnose plays and can also cover. The Dolphins don’t have that. Elandon Roberts is a fine player, but the Dolphins need more from him. The Dolphins traded for Bernardrick McKinney and he is a good run defender, but a liability in pass coverage, and the team decided to move on from him before the season. Why I don’t know, but it would have been nice to see what he could do before cutting your loses with him. The Dolphins also need to continue to find pass rushers. Jaelen Phillips is a rookie with potential, and hopefully he continues to improve, but the Dolphins need to continue to add more. The Dolphins also may need to move on from Rowe since his play is slipping. The Dolphins also have not gotten the same play from linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. Last year he seemed to be in on every play and was the reason the team moved on from Van Knoy, but his play has fallen off. The Dolphins also haven’t gotten anything out of former first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene. He can’t even get on the field this year, and I don’t know why. Is it possible the coaches aren’t using him, right? Or is he just a good player? Either way, the Dolphins have to figure that out and, after the season, see if they should invest another season in him or not, but this regime drafted him, and they have to figure it out.

This season has been a disaster and a huge disappointment for the team and also the fans. The trade deadline is Tues, and the Dolphins should look into the possibility of trading some of their players, like Parker, and see what they can get in return. The Dolphins need to, more importantly, use the rest of the season to see who is worth keeping on this roster going forward. Two of their biggest free agents are Gesicki and Ogbah, both of whom I would try to keep. They also should reassess the quarterback situation, but I think the Dolphins’ problems are deeper than quarterback, and if they do decide to stick with Tagovailoa, they have to give him help so he can prosper. With nine games to go, the Dolphins need to use it to see who should stay or go and that includes coaching and the general manager.