DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins are now on a three-game losing streak and the offense is still a challenge. But the big surprise from Monday’s 45-21 loss at Carolina was Miami’s defense. It was almost historically bad.
Still, head coach Adam Gase isn’t ready to question his team’s effort or heart.
“Really, effort is really hard to question with this group,” Gase said Tuesday. “They’re going to play hard.”
And Gase is convinced his team will stay focused.
“This group is pretty good at moving on,” he said. “I think the coaching staff, too. That’s our job and we’ve got a lot of time left, a lot of ball left. I don’t know if you guys kind of pay attention to the rest of the league, but it’s not like anyone’s running away with anything. It’s a total disaster everywhere. There’s about two teams where everybody is all happy. Everywhere else it’s misery.”
The Dolphins, who entered the game with the league’s 7th-best run defense at 94 yards per game, allowed Carolina 294 rushing yards and fell to 20th in the league at 116.2 per game. Running back Jonathan Stewart (110 yards rushing) and quarterback Cam Newton (95 yards rushing) did the bulk of the damage, but running back Cameron Artis-Payne (68 yards rushing) also got in on the fun.
“It seemed like we had some gap integrity issues and missed tackles,” defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said.
The Panthers totaled a whopping 548 yards, a franchise record, which was just 63 yards shy of Miami’s franchise record.
“I am lost, honestly,” defensive end Cam Wake said.
Carolina’s 45 points were the most allowed by Miami this season. The Dolphins have now allowed 40 or more points in two of their last three games and are allowing an average of 35 points per game in the last four games.
“What is on paper doesn’t define who we are,” defensive end Andre Branch said.
Offensively the Dolphins didn’t fare well, either.
They scored three touchdowns, which would be considered promising under normal circumstances. But Miami’s last two touchdowns basically came in desperation mode. They trailed 31-7 when running back Kenyan Drake scored on a 66-yard run in the third quarter and trailed 45-14 when Jarvis Landry scored on a 9-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
But the defense’s performance was the story, and it was a shocking tale.
“It was just another frustrating night,” Branch said. “The coaches will figure out how to get it fixed and us players will have to execute. We just need to fix the things that need to be fixed.”
REPORT CARD VS. PANTHERS
—PASSING OFFENSE: D – QB Jay Cutler (22 of 37, 213 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 82.4 passer rating) was throwing to open spaces, not open receivers, all night. It’s unclear whether most of these throws that landed on green grass were Cutler’s fault or the receivers. WRs Jarvis Landry (five receptions, 42 yards, one touchdown) and DeVante Parker (six receptions, 66 yards) were largely non-factors. Cutler didn’t get sacked, however. That’s about the only positive here.
—RUSHING OFFENSE: F – RB Kenyan Drake (seven carries, 82 yards) had a 66-yard touchdown run that saved the day statistically. Miami ended with 100 yards on 17 carries. But aside from that run there was nothing, as the 16 other carries for 34 yards would attest. RB Damien Williams (nine carries, 19 yards) didn’t do much, and neither did the line.
—PASS DEFENSE: D – QB Cam Newton (21 of 35, 254 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, 120.4 passer rating) tore apart the Miami secondary. WR Devin Funchess (five receptions, 92 yards, two touchdowns) was part of an aerial attack that never showed a weakness as they found numerous soft spots in Miami’s zone coverage and beat the Dolphins one-on-one in man coverage. Miami had no sacks and didn’t pressure Newton consistently. A bad night.
—RUSH DEFENSE: F – Miami allowed 294 yards on the ground, including runs of 43 yards by RB Cameron Artis-Payne and 69 yards by QB Cam Newton. The revamped secondary that added FS T.J. McDonald didn’t offer much resistance. This was easily the most disappointing aspect of the game for Miami because it had been their most reliable unit.
—SPECIAL TEAMS: C – K Cody Parkey never attempted a field goal. P Matt Haack (four punts, 41.8 yards per punt) didn’t fare very well. The return game didn’t produce consistent field-position advantages. The coverage units were decent. But Miami wasn’t able to gain any sort of advantage in this area.
—COACHING: D – Miami lost its composure after allowing a touchdown shortly before halftime. In an eight-minute span from late in the second quarter to midway through the third, the Panthers scored 21 points to basically win the game. Head coach Adam Gase and his staff weren’t able to make enough adjustments to turn the tide. And they got off to another slow start with seven points in the first half.
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