Miami Dolphins: 2013 Week 4 MIA at NOR

Miami Dolphins learn a harsh lesson

October, 1, 2013
Ryan Tannehill Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsRyan Tannehill's fumble was just one of four turnovers for the young quarterback.
NEW ORLEANS -- Some lessons can only be learned the hard way. For the Miami Dolphins, the harshest of NFL lessons came Monday against the undefeated New Orleans Saints.

The Saints and quarterback Drew Brees were the main performers and the Dolphins the obvious understudies. The stage was the rowdy Mercedes Benz Superdome, and the result was a 38-17 loss for the Dolphins that can only be classified as a disaster on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

Miami entered the game with a perfect record, but the Dolphins learned they are far from perfect.

There was not much the Dolphins did right in this game. And with each passing quarter, the gap between Miami and an elite title contender like New Orleans got wider and wider.

This loss was not a fluke -- it was an old-fashion beatdown. Miami's coaches and players know where they stand after this game and realize there is still plenty of work to do.

"You watched the game like everybody did -- and we played it," Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes said. "We saw that they were the better team. They were a better team today."

The Dolphins thought they were ready for prime time after their 3-0 start. Miami has not played on Monday night since its 38-24 loss to the New England Patriots more than two years ago. This loss to New Orleans was worse. It was, by far, Miami's sloppiest performance of the season. They played careless football for four quarters with little attention to detail. Miami turned the football over four times.

The Dolphins did not look like the same efficient and effective football team that we saw during the first three weeks. Neither did Ryan Tannehill. Miami's second-year quarterback threw for 249 yards and one touchdown but had the third three-interception game of his career. Tannehill also had a big fumble in the first half that started Miami's downhill slide.

Tannehill's protection also was not very good. Once the Saints got the lead, they unleashed the pass rush on Miami's one-dimensional offense and recorded four sacks. Tannehill has been sacked 18 times, which is tied for the most of any NFL quarterback after four games this season. About the only thing Miami did well offensively was run the football. But that was rendered obsolete after the Dolphins fell behind big in the second half.

The Dolphins will only go as far as Tannehill's arm takes them. This was a good lesson for Miami's starting quarterback, who fell to 10-10 in his young career as a starter.

"It doesn't matter if we lose by one or we lose by whatever we lost by, it's still counts as a loss and nothing more," Tannehill said. "We're not happy with it. We need to correct the mistakes."

Miami's ability was tested on Monday. But next week is when we truly learn about the Dolphins' character.

Coming off a short week of preparation, Miami will host the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Sun Life Stadium. Not only are the Dolphins coming off their first loss, but they will be trying to recover from a three-touchdown pounding that could potentially shake their confidence. Miami has a much-needed bye the following week.

The Dolphins have a chance to go into the bye with a 4-1 record if they are able to quickly rebound from this embarrassing loss.

"I feel like we're going to learn and see about our character and what kind of guys we have in our locker room," Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. "I haven't been here long, but I feel like we have guys who are going to fight, we have guys who are going to compete and go back to work.

"I know tomorrow [Tuesday] when we get back to work, we're still going to compete like we're 4-0."

The Dolphins looked far from a 4-0 team Monday in New Orleans. But a 3-1 start in the first month of the season is pretty good for this young group, especially considering Miami's tough schedule.

Will the Dolphins bounce back?

"Honestly, I'm not [worried]," Grimes said. "It sucks. Nobody wants to lose like that. But I have full confidence in this locker room and this organization that can come back to the next game.

"We got a home [game], and just come back to playing Miami Dolphins-style football against the Ravens. That's what we're all thinking about right now."

Questions about the Dolphins might not linger if they had played a more competitive game. But being throttled by the Saints on national television shows there are a lot of flaws that need to be addressed.

"How you respond to the loss is more important than the loss," Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo said. "I think nobody is going to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We obviously have a lot of work to do."

Locker Room Buzz: Miami Dolphins

October, 1, 2013
NEW ORLEANS -- Observed in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints:

Somber room: It was the first loss for Miami (3-1), so this was as quiet as the locker room has been all season. This game wasn’t a fluke. The Dolphins knew afterward they were beaten by a better team. Miami players and coaches admitted they were outplayed for four quarters.

Protection issues: Miami’s pass protection -- or lack thereof -- was a major topic during the postgame news conference and locker room interviews. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times. He continues to take a beating and is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL after four weeks with 18. Tannehill needs to stay upright and healthy if the Dolphins want to have a successful season. “We have to be better,” Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo said. “Obviously, [Tannehill’s] health is of the utmost importance to us.”

Looking ahead: Several players in the locker room said they’re already looking ahead to the next game. Coming off a short week, the Dolphins will host the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Sun Life Stadium. Miami’s character will be tested after suffering a blowout loss. Can the Dolphins bounce back from defeat? “We can’t dwell on what happened,” Miami cornerback Brent Grimes said. “Nobody is happy with it, from the players, down to the coaches. You just have to move on to the next game.”

Rapid Reaction: Saints 38, Dolphins 17

September, 30, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 38-17 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints:

What it means: The Dolphins were handed their first loss of the season and fell to 3-1. Miami simply was not ready for the big stage of "Monday Night Football" and the rowdy crowd in the Superdome. Miami needed to play a near-perfect game to beat the undefeated Saints (4-0) and was not close to reaching that goal. However, the Dolphins were playing with house money after their perfect start. The biggest key for the Dolphins is getting over the embarrassment and disappointment and avoiding a losing streak.

Stock watch: The Dolphins did a couple of things well. The defensive line was strong against the run. Miami held the Saints to 69 rushing yards, and defensive tackle Jared Odrick played well. Miami’s running game also improved, although the team didn’t use it much in the second half after falling behind.

There is a lot more on the downside. This was, by far, Miami’s sloppiest performance of the season. The Dolphins’ attention to detail was not there. Miami had poor ball security and pass protection and too many blown coverages and missed assignments on defense. That usually leads to a blowout on the road, especially against a good team like New Orleans.

Tannehill’s troubles: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was stellar in his first three games but finally fell on hard times in front of a rowdy crowd in New Orleans. Tannehill had four turnovers. The first turnover was a careless fumble when he didn’t protect the ball while fighting for extra yards. The last three turnovers were interceptions thrown into coverage. Games like this provide a good lesson for a young quarterback.

What’s next: The big games do not stop for Miami. Coming off a short week of preparation, the Dolphins will host the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Miami is 1-0 at home this year. The Dolphins had a brutal schedule to start the season but still have a chance to finish with a 4-1 record before the bye week.
NEW ORLEANS – The Miami Dolphins are trailing the New Orleans Saints, 21-10, at intermission.

Here are some notes at halftime:
  • The Dolphins are playing hard in the first half. But they are not doing the little things, and the Saints are taking advantage. For example, Miami failed to convert on third-and-short and also gave up a third-and-20 to the Saints. The latter led to New Orleans continuing a drive that was capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll also was a step late on another touchdown throw to Darren Sproles before the half.
  • Miami's offense is moving the ball well. But two big mistakes by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the difference. Tannehill had a big fumble that killed a potential scoring drive and threw a pick in the second quarter. Miami had no trouble moving the ball and gained 224 total yards, but costly turnovers helped the Saints take the lead at halftime.
  • Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick also is having a stellar first half. Odrick recorded three tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss in the first two quarter. Both Odrick, Paul Soliai and Randy Starks have combined inside to hold New Orleans’ running game to just 10 total yards.
  • The Dolphins have been a good second-half team all season. Miami has outscored opponents 41-16 in the third and fourth quarters during its 3-0 start. Let’s see what the Dolphins have in store for the second half against the Saints.