If the Dolphins win their next 4 games, they will be #1 seed in the AFC. Let’s start with that positive note…although it is extremely improbable.

The Dolphins have a 2-game lead on the Bills. Another positive to cling to as I have to–unfortunately–dive into this next part.

One of my favorite quotes is from the writer Dante, who was speaking about gamblers playing dice. He basically said that when the game is over, the loser stands alone, replaying all the plays in his mind, and all the “what ifs” hurt.

That’s where I begin. What if Bradley Chubb doesn’t take his helmet off? We win. What if Jason Sanders doesn’t have a routine field goal blocked? We win. Lots more. As bad as we played, we played well enough to win. Until we didn’t.

THAT’s what kept me up all night…replaying plays in my head like Dante’s gambler.

The defense had two drives they needed to stop, and they failed both times.

The offense had two drives they needed to score on, and they failed both times.

Actually, that’s not true. On our penultimate drive, we only needed to get a first down to win. 10 yards with Mike McDaniel’s genius offense, and he failed, Miserably.

McDaniel himself bears the brunt of this horrible loss. His mistakes began BEFORE the game and he did not improve during.

Before the game, you say? Yes. McDaniel has this infuriating habit of not letting players play. Yeah, I get it. I know Jevon Holland and Terron Armstead and Rob Hunt are nursing injuries. But they are not incapacitated. All three were begging to play, and McDaniel ignored all three. They were 99% healthy and they wanted in, but McDaniel wanted to save them.

Congratulations, Mike McDaniel. Now Holland and Hunt and Armstead will be safe and ready to go when we play in a January playoff game…IN BUFFALO.

My point proved correct when DeShon Elliott went down for the final two drives. We were now down BOTH starting safeties with Holland and Elliott out. We had to use Elijah Campbell, who was out of position all night long. Everyone on the D was pointing him toward where he was supposed to be. Without our defensive QBs Baker and Holland, no leader stepped up. That is McDaniel’s fault.

Why not dress Holland for emergencies only? Say, for example, you need a stop on the opponent’s final drive, and your starting safety Elliott gets hurt? There’s your emergency. There’s your need for Jevon Holland. There’s the Dolphins’ need for a smarter head coach.

Now onto McDaniel’s failures DURING the game. It’s too general to just say that his play-calling is bad. You have to look into some specifics. Such as his insistence on trying that ridiculous fade route that has only worked one time ever under McDaniel. It’s simply wasting a down, and he won’t learn a lesson, a la Adam Gase.

The head coach should NOT need a reminder that Raheem Mostert leads the league in touchdowns. The head coach should not only use Raheem in the 4th Quarter in these goal line situations, but throughout the entire game. First and goal from the 2, and McDaniel decides to run a fade route that never works, a screen that never works, and long-developing pass play where Tua faced a massive rush and had to run for his life for no gain. Mostert should walk up to McDaniel and spit in his face.

It’s nice for McDaniel to say that Liam Eichenberg is improving. But he’s not. Almost all the pressure in Tua came up the middle. He’s not fast enough to escape that middle pressure, nor strong enough to run through it. And it all starts with Eichenberg letting the man through in the first place.

Personally, I don’t blame the defense for those last two fateful drives. You could see how gassed they were. Utterly exhausted. Letting Hopkins have his way all night long only got worse at the end. All this is a direct result of McDaniel not getting enough first downs on offense to rest his defense.

But McDaniel wasn’t alone. Tua takes some blame here as well. Earlier in the game, he was doing better at finding an outlet receiver when the primary guy wasn’t there. But toward the end, he had regressed again. Every tome he had to throw on the run, he was off. He was missing. He was throwing dangerous passes and was lucky to not have any intercepted.

The worst play for me, was at the end, on 4th and 3 with the game on the line. He took a sack.

I’ve been saying this for many many years…players need to know when the last play of the game is occurring. It’s situational awareness. Tua blew this TWICE this season.

If Tua gets tackled, we lose the game. Period. He MUST understand that, and not get tackled at any cost. So when he couldn’t escape, he has to try anything. ANYTHING!!

Drop the ball on purpose and hope that a lineman picks it up and scampers three yards. Kick the ball forward and hope the ref doesn’t see it. Launch a desperate pass up the middle and hope Hill can outjump someone.

Fumbling on purpose is obviously something you never ever do…EXCEPT when you’re about to lose anyway.

Tua did the same thing at the end of the Chiefs game, when we had a bad snap and he had to go retrieve the ball. He played it as if it were in the middle of the game, instead of knowing that it was our last chance. There’s a time to play desperate, and the final play of the game is it.

So as far as my anger level goes, I’d say this:

Most mad at McDaniel and his run-refusal playcalling, plus his benching of mostly-healthy players.

Next is Bradley Chubb, who cost us the win by giving the Titans 4 extra points. (He was pissed at himself, unneccessarily…we stopped Levis short of a first down anyway on that play. Chubb assumed he got a first down but he hadn’t)

Tua, who seemed to lack competitive fire.

So as we stand now, we just took one on the chin. A horrid loss. But let’s see if we can’t get right back up. The Bills lost a game with 12 men on the field. The Eagles lost to the lowly Jets. The Chiefs lost to the 6-7 Packers. Upsets happen. How you bounce back is more important than the result of one game. Let’s just beat the Jets and see what happens.


  1. I love your posts they are so insightful and brilliant. Thanks again for this website. Let me ask you this. I never want to say this but thinking outside the box I really feel like the NFL wanted the dolphins to lose this game like it was scripted. I just can’t understand how a defense that really played well and aggressive all game could make the rookie qb look like Brady the last three minutes with a 14 point lead. It looked like they just literally layed down and gave up. Titans only scores before that were on the stupid penalty with chubb and the missed obvious pass interference call on Hopkins. Also seems like tua just slipped twice for no apparent reason none whatsoever. Maybe they just cant have the dolphins running away with the division of course. Have to make it come down to the last game vs Bills. Maybe they just dont want dolphins to have 1 seed over ravens and chiefs. Very fishy to me. Makes me wonder why I care when I see stuff like that. Defense played him great all game and had to literally lay down the last three minutes and make in my opinion a trash quarterback look like Brady or Montana. Would love to hear your thoughts

    1. Author

      Thank you. there is a lot of talk on the NFL wanting certain teams to win, but I did not see that last night. Tua falling down and our defense being gassed to death are two examples where the refs had no part in that.
      The refs also had no part in Mike McDaniel’s continuous pass-happy approach to 1st and goal.
      Also, Achane made a bunch of rookie mistakes, including slowing down for a perfect pass from Tua instead of sprinting, and also the third down play where he needs to get out of bounds OR dive ahead for the first down…he did neither. Mostert would have, Veteran awareness.
      Dolphins cost the Dolphins last night,

      1. Admin look at that play again he got hip checked running past the defender and that slowed him down. The ref right there didn’t call it although it obviously changed his angle and speed.

        1. Author

          Yeah, okay. I guess the refs did miss that.

  2. Over reaction Tuesday – Miami will not win another game the rest of the regular season (if they can lose to the Titans at home, they can lose to Jets at Home)

    1. good post, admin. thank you for highlighting the injuries on both sides of the ball. That explains the overall Dolphin effort and success.

      I agree on your blame list – McDaniel and Tua and Chubb.

      the play selection (all passes) on that 1st and goal were befuddling. we have a running attack! The fade route call – it as if the goal of the offense was only to get Tyreek a TD as opposed to scoring a TD however possible.

      also, Tyreek got hurt on a wide receiver screen play which ended up with negative yardage. Stop calling that play!!! it is more prone to injury (last night) and turnovers (Chiefs game, strip fumble TD).

      1. Author

        Do you remember Ttans’ 2-pt conversion. One of those plays where the guy was brutally wide open. We see that around the NFL a lot…except for the Dolphins. Other teams run plays to get a man wide open. We run plays to give our WR a 1% chance on a fade route. McDaniel’s fault

        1. yeah, that 2-pt play is a common offensive play where outside receiver turns left into the other defender and creates I/F for the inside receiver to break free to the outside. our defenders did not switch and fell for it completely. perhaps the defenders were the second stringers. At that point, the sinking pit of my stomach feeling turned up to 11

    2. Author

      I’m holding onto hope because of the way we lost last night was NOTHING compared to the way the Bills lost with 12 men on the field on a Monday Night at home. If they can swipe that from their memories and get right back out there, then we can too. Although we have about 47 injured players now.

    3. Unfortunately if they don’t beat the jets it is possible they lose all the rest of the games and go 9-8 as usual. Jets are better than the titans to in my opinion. They beat a good Texans team so they will beat riding high. Hopefully it will be like the Patriots beating Buffalo and everyone thought the world of Mac Jones because he had a good game against them and came back to earth. Either way must win or I see them losing the rest of their games and if they do and go 9-8 again with all this talent to have a window to be a Superbowl team which wont last long they are truly cursed

  3. Try not to buy into conspiracies too much, but when I saw the sad news about Frank Wycheck I had a feeling NFL would push the “jump ball” calls in Titans favor.

    No call on defenseless receiver on Waddle
    No call on the Hill horse collar
    No call on roughing passer in 3rd for Tua
    Delay of game on defense with 2 minutes left

    Don’t get me wrong, offense was horrible and but I gotta wonder about those calls…

    1. Author

      “Delay of game on defense with 2 minutes left.” Can someone explain what Seiler did wrong? Obviously an obscure rule I didn’t know about.

      1. He did absolutely nothing wrong, let alone a defensive delay of game.

        It’s what it sounds like, the defensive delays the game, holding ball after play etc

        How is a sudden line shift a delay of game? Announcers questioned it as well, then came up with some BS that movement was too sudden?!?! What?!?

        Watch the Titans reaction, they know they screwed up immediately when flag was throw.

        The refs made it up. Fins didn’t do enough to win the game, but refs were working against them.

      2. They said that he moved to quickly. Look at the play the OL man jumped early and the DL men ran across the line so the refs would have to call false start only to get flagged for some BS. That call was atrocious because it moved the titans from the 3rd and 5 and an obvious passing situation to 2.5 and goal and they ran it in on us. Total BS jus like all the other no calls mentioned above

        1. Found this in reddit. Makes no sense its not like Seiler jerked and the TE wasn’t lined up in front of him he actually slid away from him. How many times a game do we see dlines slide over….yes many times. Seems like a BS call. Chiefs argument was that they never call offensive offside all game just on the last drive when they scored which I can understand is a piss off but this call I’ve never seen in my entire life. Bills won on both counts….
          I have never seen it called before in the NFL, but it is a grey area rule:


          Other examples of action or inaction that are to be construed as delay of the game include, but are not limited to: …

          (d) a defensive player aligned in a stationary position within one yard of the line of scrimmage makes quick and abrupt actions that are not a part of normal defensive player movement and are an obvious attempt to cause an offensive player(s) to foul (false start). (The officials shall blow their whistles immediately.) If the defender is walking or running toward the line of scrimmage in an effort to time the snap, but stops abruptly because the snap is not made, it is not a foul for delay of game;”


          1. Thank you, FFF. At least we now know what the letter of the law says. It’s still a ridiculous call and the first time any of us have ever seen it. Defensive guys adjust their gaps on every single play. They are clearly not trying to for the offenses, but rather adjusting themselves. Sealer was not trying to move them back 5 yards, because they were already at the 10 yard line and there’s no big difference. It’s just a stupid call by some referee trying to be cute. The Kansas City game was similar, because it was another car that you rarely see. I think Tony was slightly over the line but some people are acting like he was 10 feet across the line.

            1. Titans were actually moving back thinking it was a false start that’s how bad that call was. Where its similar to KC was that they ran the same formation 6-8 times earlier in that same game and no call but as soon as KC scored flag. That’s why Mahomes went nuts. You wait until under 2 minutes and a big play to finally make the call? Very fishy stuff going on and it favored Buf in both games they virtually won twice this past weekend. Really want Allen in the playoffs!

  4. Let’s be honest. Every year, there is that one brutal gut punch game where not only is the result a loss, but we lose some key pieces for the year. This year it was the TN game. It seems like the last 4 games we have lost a key contributor for the year. Some of this is just bad luck.

    I can’t be too critical of the offense on Monday night when you consider FOUR of our five starters on the O-Line were out. There’s gonna be some serious leakage if you are playing almost entirely with your 2nd string line. I felt we lost the game on Defense. Up 2 touchdowns with less than 4 minutes to go, the only way you lose that game is giving up 2 long drives to a rookie QB…and the only way a rookie QB beats you is if you play the exact same defense he has seen all night again. I love Fangio and what he’s done this year, but if we blitzed at all on the last 2 drives and trusted our pro bowl CBs in man-to-man coverage, I am certain we win that game. Fangio held off on blitzing the chargers in game #1 all game and then hit Herbert with a few exotic blitzes in the last few minutes to completely confuse him. I was expecting the same thing on Monday night…instead of the same 4-man rush and zone coverage which their QB had figured out by the 4th quarter.

    If this Dolphin team is truly different from the others of the last 20+ years, then this will just be a blip on the season and we will move on to a great playoff run. If however, this is the same ol’ Dolphins, then we will look to this game as the one that derailed the entire season. Only time will tell. We will know a lot about the leadership and mental make up of this team on Sunday vs. the Jets and even more against the red-hot Cowboys the following week.

    1. Author

      Very good take on the last two drives. I think perhaps Fangio was concerned about something over the middle, with our 3rd and 4th strong safeties both out there. Maybe that’s why he wouldn’t blitz…I don’t know.
      But you are certainly right about the lack of anything on those drives. We ran our base defense like 15 plays in a row, and didn’t get one single stop. I truly think the guys were just drained and had NOTHING in the tank when we needed them most.

      1. Yes, the defense was bad on the last two drives, but remember, the defense was also very good, essentially responsible for 21 of the dolphins 27 points (pick-six and two fumble recoveries within 10 yard line). Our offense essentially scored only 6 points.

        So our offense (McDaniel and Tua) are really to blame. Tyreek & OL injuries don’t help either.

        But McDaniel is to blame as duly noted in this post by admin and others. he did not seem to make many adjustments. As Chris Sims noted, Tua missed a wide-open Waddle, on the week side (see image), many times. Waddle was often left open underneath because of the way the Titans were defending against Tyreek

        And…How many quarterbacks slip & fall untouched on 3rd down? or stand up after a snapped fumble in middle of a scrum to try and throw the ball (which resulted in goal line fumble) instead of falling on the ball and securing it? Tua seems to have a certain knack for those clumsy plays. Tua also showed no fire and seems almost indifferent, like a disinterested teenager. I finally understand why Brian Flores had issues with Tua’s attitude.

        Gosh I hope we beat the Jets. But I do not have a good feeling. As I mentioned earlier, the Titan game revealed a lot (structural problems) that probably won’t get fixed within a week, especially with a patchwork O-line.

        222Upload Attached

        1. Author

          As a Tua supporter, even I lay into him at times. I’m not a casual observer who simply gives him a free pass on some plays. That bobbled fumble was a huge mental gaffe. Clumsy is not an unfair word to use, as you said. 3 yard line and you fumble the ball? POUNCE on that thing like it was your baby. Don’t try to pick it up and make something happen…and especially don’t fumble it a SECOND TIME on the same play. We got lucky on the next play that Zach Seiler is a better ball handler than Tua. As far as Tua missing Waddle, that is my main knock on Tua this year. The best QB in the NFL right now in finding that first open guy and throwing a gorgeous dart. But among the worst QBs at quickly finding outlet #2. He was better in the first half on Monday night, as far as finding an outlet receiver for a few yards when Hill was hurt. But in the second half, he was running for his life without poise. He was throwing across his body into dangerous situations. Him and McDaniel have to stop this fantasy that “I will have 10 seconds to fade back and enjoy a clean pocket” IT AIN’T HAPPENING! The Titans(and other teams we lose to) are in our backfield every play, and our pass routes (and maybe Tua himself) aren’t built for that. Where the hell are the quick SLANTS? You must have quick slants in your arsenal for when your QB is under duress and he can just get rid of the ball. Looking 20 yards downfield on every single play is not the way to avoid the rush.
          I too have noticed the lack fire in Tua and especially McDaniel. I was dejected watching the Titans’ offense on the last two drives, because they kept showing Tua and Hill and our offense sitting down. Get them standing up and pumping up the crowd!!
          About to take the field down only one point with two minutes left?? Let’s see some damn fire in that huddle from our leader. Tua looked defeated in that last drive. Achane wasn’t ready. I love the kid, but the 2-minute drill takes smarts and leadership, and Mostert is the better option. 2nd to last drive…we needed one lousy first down. 10 yards. We got two runs that the Titans knew were coming, and then Tua ran on third down, coming up short. And ugly sequence followed by another 30-yard punt. (Bailey has to go. I have no problem with Sanders’ occasional gaffes, but Bailey has no leg and never flips the field.)
          I can see why McDaniel called this a team loss, but I think it starts with McD himself. Leadership is more than just “rah-rah-rah, Look at my cool white sneakers and my sarcastic wit.”

          1. “…Zach Seiler is a better ball handler than Tua.”. 😂

  5. And I’m not sure that McD’s style of coaching – (that buddy-buddy style) with his players – really works on a professional – you’re getting paid in this business – level.
    Example : Imagine if Chubb had tried to pull that shit with Shula as his HC. Almost guaranteed Shula would have sit Chubbs ass on the bench for at least a half, if not the entire game, and make him think about what a senseless, needless, penalty – that should never happen, No excuses whatsoever – that really hurt the team, and might have cost them the game.
    Not Sure that the way McD handled that situation, doing basically Nothing about it at all, is doing what is best for the team ….

    1. AJ,

      I totally agree with you.

      I remember Eisen saying that McD revealed his most influential person is his mom (that’s very touching and honest & beautiful).

      But I think this is why McD’s style is mostly good-cop (love), made-up of a very millennial/Gen-z flavor. What is missing is X- gen, bad-cop (tough-love). Flores had this quality. I don’t think McD has it in him to deliver the required tough-love and discipline. But we shall see…

      I do admit he has exceeded my expectations and I am very pleased with his results so far. So it goes without saying, I hope he will continue to exceed my expectations

      Go Phins!

      1. Author

        I agree, in general, and I’m a stickler for discipline and anger when it’s needed to be shown. However, in today’s game, you have to walk a fine line. Old-school discipline and screaming at guys doesn’t have the same effect it used to. Coach gets mad at me for blowing a game? Oh, well. I go home to my mansion and play Xbox with my buddies. My contract is guaranteed, and he cannot fine me one dime. Even more…the coacgh will be the one who gets lambasted. “How dare that evil coach treats his player like a child! He should take him aside and pat him on the back instead.” The world has changed.
        Although….did you see Mike Vrabel scream at the dude who fumbled the punt?? Vrabel’s tantrum inspired the entire team, and they went on to win. If only McDaniel cared more about winning than his sneakers, watch, and wardrobe.

        1. I’d like to mention that look what’s happening in patsieland. Belicheat is going no where fast without Brady and his my way or the highway attitude. None of his coaches have turned out elsewhere right Josh? I actually like MM’s approach as the players fight for him if anything he has to instill more of the do it for your teammates joke around when its game over not during. Have simple rules in place you fumble you miss a series or quarter but same rules apply for everyone. This way you get peer pressure on your side. Overall I’m only pissed at our HC for not running it enough especially in redzone situations but to be fair he did do that on the last two trips there.

          Looks like cinci about to lose I know helps the jills Admin but also even if the Fins lose a down the stretch few keeps them in the playoffs. Those oline injuries are worrisome had to bring in two guys hanging out at 7/11 ouch.

          1. Author

            Yeah, I know… But I still see the Bills as the only team we can’t bet in the playoffs. Even at home, they will whip us. If we get lucky and face the Bengals or Colts or Browns or Texans, we win and move on. We face the Bills? Our season is over. Sorry, but I want ALL those AFC teams to stay on top of the Bills, and the Bengals win today hels Miami in a backhanded way

            1. Admin don’t be so pessimistic the past is the past the Jill’s are not the same team. I believe the Fins only concern are injuries and play calling.

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