Collapse ensures another idle January for Dolphins
Cleaning out his locker Monday, Miami Dolphins receiver Mike
Wallace briefly examined a pair of gloves and took a whiff before
tossing them in the trash.
The aroma of the Dolphins’ late-season collapse will linger,
To make the postseason for the first time in five years, all
Miami needed was to win one of its final two games against the
Buffalo Bills or the New York Jets, two teams out of the playoff
chase. Instead, the Dolphins lost to both by a combined score of
39-7 to finish 8-8, ensuring another idle January.
”Definitely a bad feeling, one we’ve got to make sure we don’t
feel again,” Wallace said.
The holiday-season swoon raises questions about the future of
sixth-year general manager Jeff Ireland and second-year coach Joe
Philbin. A midseason bullying scandal still under NFL investigation
might also weigh in any decision by owner Stephen Ross.
Philbin said he was already looking toward 2014.
”I have a lot of faith and confidence in myself and the staff
and in our players that we can make the corrections necessary to
lead this team to play up to its potential and consistently compete
for championships,” Philbin said. ”That’s what I said the day I
got here. I stand by what I said the day I got here, and I’m
confident I can do that.”
When asked if he had received assurances from Ross that he would
return next season, Philbin said, ”We haven’t even talked about
any of that stuff.”
One option for Ross is to order changes in Philbin’s staff,
starting with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, whose unit ranked
27th in the NFL in yards. The Dolphins scored once in their final
Ross spent more than $100 million in guaranteed money last
offseason to upgrade the roster, and the investment delivered only
slight improvement from a 7-9 record in 2012. The Dolphins were
outgained this season by 743 yards and were wildly
They had four wins over teams that will be in the playoffs, the
most for any non-playoff team since 2009, according to STATS LLC.
They also lost three games to last-place teams. They went 4-4 at
home, 0-2 against the woeful Bills and 2-4 within the AFC East.
Philbin said his team is close to contending for titles.
”It was Week 17, and we had an opportunity to get into the
playoffs,” he said. ”We’re not there yet, but we’re close. …
We’re not that far away.”
The Dolphins did receive one bit of good news Monday: Receiver
Brian Hartline was diagnosed with a torn posterior cruciate
ligament in his left knee that will not require surgery, a person
familiar with the situation said. The person confirmed the
diagnosis to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because
the Dolphins don’t comment on injuries.
In the wake of a franchise-record 58 sacks allowed, offseason
upgrades will focus on the offensive line, which was depleted by
the bullying scandal when tackle Jonathan Martin left the team and
guard Richie Incognito was suspended. Neither is expected back with
The Dolphins might be in the market for a running back, too.
Lamar Miller scored two touchdowns, the lowest total for a player
leading the Dolphins in rushing since 1980.
There will also be changes on defense, where the Dolphins ranked
a disappointing 21st. Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes, cornerback
Nolan Carroll, defensive tackles Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, and
safety Chris Clemons become free agents this offseason.
For the Dolphins, the offseason began Monday. Defensive end
Olivier Vernon surveyed the scene as players quietly packed up and
slipped out of the locker room.
”Horrible, man. Miserable,” Vernon said. ”We expected to be
game-planning for a team this weekend. I don’t think anybody was
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and
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