- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Miami Dolphins are on a season-high four-game losing streak.
Let’s take a look at whose stock is up and down in Miami.
1. Jeff Ireland, general manager: Right or wrong, when a team loses four consecutive games, the blame starts at the top. Ireland spent more than $200 million in total contracts in free agency, which included more than $100 million guaranteed. Yet, the Dolphins (3-4) are just as inconsistent as they were last year during their 7-9 campaign. Ireland is responsible for putting this team together, which has several major holes and depth issues. Ireland quietly received an extension in the offseason. But If the Dolphins do not turn things around quickly and continue to spiral, you wonder if that impacts his future with Miami owner Stephen Ross, who surely wants answers.
2. Joe Philbin, head coach: Ireland put the team together, but it’s Philbin’s job to game plan and get the Dolphins ready to play. Miami came out fast with a 17-3 lead at halftime. However, Patriots coach Bill Belichick made several adjustments in the second half and completely outcoached Philbin in the second half by scoring 24 unanswered points. Philbin did a solid job with the team in his first year by getting seven wins. But more was expected in Year 2 coaching a better team. Thursday at home against the Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) will be a good test to see if Philbin can get the most out of his team and end the four-game losing skid.
3. Ryan Tannehill, quarterback: It’s been a rough month for Tannehill. He had 10 turnovers -- seven interceptions and three lost fumbles -- during Miami’s four-game losing streak. Tannehill added another three turnovers against the Patriots. Tannehill started fast during Miami’s 3-0 start. But opponents have adjusted and are starting to expose several of Tannehill’s weaknesses, especially with ball security. The Dolphins aren’t going to win a lot of games if Tannehill continues to turn over the ball at the current pace.
1. Dolphins running game: Miami’s running game has quietly made a resurgence. The Dolphins rushed for a season-high 156 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry against New England. Lamar Miller rushed for a career-high 89 yards and backup tailback Daniel Thomas added 47 rushing yards. The Dolphins did a good job of controlling the clock, but turnovers did Miami in.
2. Bryant McKinnie, left tackle: It would have been completely understandable if McKinnie struggled in his first game with Miami. He was acquired last week in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens and had just three practices before being thrown in the starting lineup. In addition, McKinnie didn’t draw an easy assignment playing the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. But McKinnie held his own and kept New England pass-rusher Chandler Jones to zero sacks. The Patriots had six sacks total, but McKinnie did his job. He should improve with more practice time.
3. Rishard Matthews, wide receiver: Matthews is now the next man up. Miami slot receiver Brandon Gibson is expected to miss the rest of the year with a significant knee injury he suffered against New England. That puts Matthews in a big role as Miami’s third receiver. Matthews caught three passes for 30 yards filling in for Gibson. He will get a chance to prove he can become Miami’s new slot option for the remainder of the year.