By Abraham Gutierrez
Traveling across the pond did very little to fix the Miami Dolphins’ woes, dropping them to 1-2 on the 2017 NFL season with an ugly 20-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday in London.
“Every time I get something fixed something else pops up,” said Fins head coach Adam Gase. “We gotta kind of figure out what’s going on and we’ve gotta do it quick.”
Offensively, Miami tallied 11 first downs and an anemic 187 yards of total offense. Much like last week’s loss to the Jets, the Dolphins struggled to move the sticks, going just 1-for-8 on third down situations. They also failed to keep the Saints offense off the field, being dominated in the time-of-possession battle to the tune of 25 minutes and 28 seconds to the Saints’ 34:23.
For quarterback Jay Cutler (20-28, 164 yards, INT, 71.1 QBR), the afternoon got off to a very promising start, as Miami marched down the field determined to get on the board in the early going. However, after a series of penalties, Miami would turn the ball over in the end zone, as Cutler was picked off by cornerback Ken Crawley on a poorly thrown ball.
“I got a little pressure, hung it inside for Julius [Thomas] so I just gotta put that ball a little more outside, a little deeper for him,” Cutler explained. “The first drive was clean. Like you said, we overcame some penalties. We didn’t have a headset, so we were working off the sidelines… it’s frustrating. I think we’re all on offense a little humble, a little embarrassed.”
Much like last week, Miami’s defense played well enough to keep the team in the game, but would eventually break. The Fins defense pitched a shutout in the first quarter and allowed just a field goal in the second stanza. After the break, however, the Saints made their adjustments and scored seven points in the third quarter before putting things out of reach with a 10-spot in the fourth quarter.
Defensive end Cameron Wake had three tackles and the only sack of the game for Miami’s defense, while cornerback Bobby McCain led the way with 7 tackles (6 solo, 1 assist). As a unit, Miami’s “D” surrendered a whopping 22 first downs and 347 yards of total offense (261 passing yards, 86 rushing yards).
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was unstoppable on the afternoon, competing 29-of-41 pass attempts for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns to earn a quarterback rating of 104.5. Brees’ favorites targets were wide receivers Michael Thomas (8 receptions, 89 yards, TD) and Alvin Kamara (10 receptions 71 yards, TD).
“There’s only one proven solution that I know of, and that’s hard work, perseverance and dedication,” Wake said after the game. “You gotta be honest with yourself, be honest with the men around you and take a long look at what’s going on. The film doesn’t lie.”
Special Teams: A
With Miami’s offense becoming stagnant, the field position battle was critical in order to keep things close. For what it’s worth, punter Matt Haack did a solid job in making Brees and the Saints drive the length of the field. The undrafted rookie from Arizona State finished the game with 6 punts for an average of 44 yards per boot and a pair of nicely placed kicks inside New Orleans 20-yard line.
Not only was Miami’s offense bad against one of the worse defenses in the National Football League, but penalties were a big and unnecessary hurdle to overcome. The Dolphins closed out the game with 11 penalties for 90 yards, failed to get on the scoreboard and allowed the Saints to do as they pleased on both sides of the football.
“We’re gonna have to watch this and then kind of try and put these first three games together and figure out where our issues are coming from,” Gase added. “Just talking after the game, we’re all just trying to figure out, like, is it one thing we’re kind of slowing us up, is it multiple guys, is it play-calls, is it scheme?”
Next up: Dolphins ready for 2017 NFL Home Opener
After three weeks on the road, Gase & Co. return to South Florida for the team’s first home game of the 2017 NFL campaign in Week 5. Scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET will be a contest between Miami and the (2-2) Tennessee Titans. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida will be the site and CBS will be handling broadcasting duties.