(CBS Miami)–The Miami Dolphins are the worst team in the NFL. Anybody following the NFL season has seen or heard this phrase entirely too many times since September. And while Miami is certainly bad, there are a few other truly terrible teams going into Week 9. The Cincinnati Bengals are still winless and just benched longtime starting quarterback Andy Dalton. The Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins are each 1-7 and adrift without direction going into the second half of the season.
The Dolphins’ opponent this Sunday, the AFC East rival New York Jets, are an abysmal 1-6 so far. The team placed high hopes in second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, only to be derailed by injuries and poor play. Now it has to salvage what’s left of a season they thought possessed some promise. A matchup with the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium may present them with that opportunity.
“For the Jets it’s really truly about getting back on the winning side of the ledger here,” according to NFL On CBS analyst Boomer Esiason. “Especially with their schedule over the next five or six weeks, playing teams they will be able to compete against, and it all starts with Miami.”
But the Dolphins aren’t going to just roll over and die for the Jets, even if the end goal of the season is high 2020 draft picks. As Esiason sees it, “they’re facing a Miami team that has been competitive, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.” The NFL veteran, replacing then-starter Josh Rosen, almost pulled out the team’s first win of the season with a last-minute touchdown drive in Week 6.
The flip-side of Fitzpatrick’s modest success is the failure of Rosen to live up to even low expectations. Esiason acknowledges as much. “I think they’re probably doing this because of the performance of Josh Rosen. I think they were hoping that he would take the mantle and he would be the leader and he would actually play reasonably well. Two games ago, he essentially gave the game away with throwing interceptions, so I think Brian Flores had no choice but to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick. While Ryan is a very competent NFL quarterback and has lasted in the league for a long time, he does have a penchant for turning the football over because he can be reckless with it. That is why teams that he plays for end up losing more than they win.”
The Dolphins have problems up and down the roster, so short-term quarterback moves still serve the long-term rebuilding strategy. “I’m not saying they have a great roster here, this is a team in total rebuild mode,” Esiason points out. “They have 14 draft choices in the 2020 upcoming draft at the moment. They have three first-round picks. I think it is conventional wisdom that we all think one of those higher picks is going to be used on a quarterback coming out in the draft. This is a team that is obviously looking to retain their high draft status. And, I think that is one of the reasons why they have traded so many players away and one of the reasons why they’re trying to hang on with Fitzpatrick.”
The Dolphins play the Jets Sunday @ 1:00 on CBS.