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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dolphins lose to Bill's 19-14 in Thursday Night Showdown; What does future hold?

By Joel McAuliffe

The Miami Dolphins effectively ended their hopes of a successful 2012 campaign Thursday night their defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills 19-14, in the teams lone nationally televised game this season.

The Dolphins struggled from the get-go allowing a 79-yard punt return by Leodis McKelvin after the offense went three-and-out to open the game. Soon thereafter, Rian Lindell would add a 32-yard field goal making it 10-0 Buffalo in the games first ten minuets.

The Dolphins would keep it close with a return of their own.  Marcus Thigpen returned the kick-off from Lindell’s field goal 96-yards for the touchdown, marking Miami’s only points of the night until Ryan Tannehill found Davone Bess in the left corner of the endzone for the score making it 19-14 late in the fourth.

Those points ended a nine-quarter drought without an offensive touchdown for the team, dating back to Reggie Bush’s 18-yard run in the second quarter of the Colt’s game two weeks ago.

With opportunities to win the game late in the fourth quarter, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was intercepted twice by the Buffalo defense, that coming into the game was one of the worst defensive teams in football.

The loss leaves the Dolphins at a crossroads. After staying in contention for a playoff berth the first eight weeks of the season, the last three have left Miami 0-3, and outscored by opponents 79-37.

Fan’s now will undoubtedly begin to question again weather coach Joe Philbin, the fifth head coach the franchise has had since 2000, is the answer, and if Ryan Tannehill, the first quarterback the team has taken in the first round of the draft since they selected Dan Marino in 1983, is an NFL caliber quarterback.

Jeff Ireland the team’s embattled general manager is widely respected around the league as a scout who can judge talent, but his time as Miami’s general manager has been anything but successful.

Miami in his tenure has had trouble attracting manqué talent. They were rejected by Jim Harbaugh and Jeff Fisher, and rebuked by Payton Manning. There’s a growing sentiment around the league that certain players won't come to Miami solely because of Jeff Ireland.

In a move that in my opinion was one that could have finally set the franchise up for sustained long-term success, the team hired Joe Philbin to coach. He then hired his mentor Mike Sherman to serve as offensive coordinator, and with Jeff Ireland’s help the team drafted Sherman’s protege Ryan Tannehill, his quarterback while he was head coach of Texas A&M.

Tannehill was set up with what was to be the “smoothest” transition into the pro’s a college quarterback has ever seen. Drafted by a team where his college coach would be his offensive coordinator, where the playbook would essentially be the same as it was in college, and a team where he would teach veterans how to run the offense the right way, the Dolphins again somehow seemed to screw it up.

The stripped Tannehill of any playmaker on offense outside of Reggie Bush, by trading away pro-bowl receiver Brandon Marshall for draft picks. They in turn added Chad Johnson in training camp only to cut him after the first preseason game due to legal issues.

Every Sunday or in tonight’s case Thursday night, Tannehill is released to the hounds, and up until the Tennessee game he has excelled even with minimal support. These last two games have showed us just how difficult the NFL is, and without the right weapons how helpless a young QB can be.

Tannehill makes all the throws, and has the right instincts. He has all the leadership qualities you can ask for in a franchise player, he’s even got a wife that might just be more popular than him.

After Thursday nights loss to the Bill’s, this has become evident. 2012 will not be the year the Dolphins surprise anybody and make an unexpected run at the postseason. While they disguised themselves as contenders early, the lack of resources for Tannehill coupled with an embarrassing secondary has proved to be the Dolphins Achilles heal.

The lack of fielding a complete team has proven to be a problem dating back to Dan Marino's tenure with the Phins. 

Even the great Dan Marino could not bring a championship to South Florida, because for whatever reason those in charge never assembled a defense worthy to be beneficiaries of his talent.

Here’s to hoping the current hierarchy see’s what they have in front of them and commits to helping them win. Here's to hoping Ryan Tannehill is given every opportunity to succeed.

Both for their benefit and for ours.

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