The Miami Dolphins entered the season with huge expectations after a massive spending spree this summer that was expected to catapult them into contention.
The Dolphins biggest move was giving Ndamukong Suh a record-breaking six-year, $114 million contract. They also chose to extend quarterback Ryan Tannehill, giving him four years, $77 million. Alongside contracts for players like tight end Jordan Cameron (two years, $15 million), wide receiving Greg Jennings (two years, $8 million), and cornerback Brian McCain (two years, $5.5 million), and the Dolphins offseason added up to massive amounts.
Through four weeks, the Dolphins have been perhaps the most disappointing team in the NFL. At 1-3, nearly everything has gone wrong, from their highly anticipated defense ranking 27th through three weeks, to their offense falling flat, to their coaching staff suddenly finding themselves on the hot seat.
As ESPN’s James Walker notes, the Dolphins have been outscored 91-48 in their last three games and 31-3 in first quarters this season, reflecting poorly on their coaching staff – they’re starting games slowly.
After their loss to the Jets, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he met with owner Stephen Ross, and while Philbin denied it was anything serious or “contentious,” it’s not a good sign that the owner is calling for meetings four weeks into the season. Philbin already had to tell reporters he’s not worried about his job security.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle also finds himself on shaky ground. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, it is actually Coyle who is most likely to be fired at this point.
“Part of that discussion will be the job status of both the Miami head coach and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. And I’m told Ross is more inclined to ask Philbin to dismiss Coyle than he is to dismiss Philbin himself at this time.”
In Week 2, there were already reports that Suh was ignoring play calls and working under his own direction. While the Dolphins and Suh denied it, Ian Rapoport reported after the loss to the Jets that during the week players held a meeting with Coyle and expressed frustration with his schemes, which he refused to change. After the Dolphins have given up 428 yards to opposing offenses in back-to-back weeks, the Dolphins look like they need big changes on defense.
Suh has been unimpressive to start his tenure as a Dolphin. He’s yet to register a sack, and he has just seven tackles on the year. While Suh has been double- and triple-teamed by opposing linemen, he hasn’t been the transformative defensive force that everyone expected to make the Dolphins an elite defense.
The Dolphins offense has been similarly unimpressive. While Tannehill can’t be blamed for their many woes, he hasn’t had the type of breakout season expected after a big extension. Tannehill has thrown for 1,080 yards with a 57% completion rate and seven touchdowns, but his numbers have been inflated by a strong Week 2 showing. Without the 359-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Jaguars (who still beat the Dolphins), Tannehill would have just 721 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 54% completion rate. Through three weeks, he ranks 26th in Football Outsider’s DYAR, 26th in DVOA, and 28th in QBR.
And given that the Dolphins have trailed in so many games, they haven’t been able to commit to the run game. This has hurt fourth-year running back Lamar Miller, who after cracking 1,000 rushing yards last year with eight touchdowns, has just 105 yards, which somehow leads the team, and no touchdowns this season.
Collectively, this has the makings of a team that’s going to have to undergo serious changes midseason, or somehow find a way to do a complete 180. In a competitive division that they thought they could potentially win, the Dolphins suddenly look like the fourth-best team in a division with the Patriots, Jets, and Bills.