EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—It’s going to take some dissecting to figure out exactly what happened here today as the Dolphins fell to one of the worst teams in the league.
Miami did pretty much everything wrong in its 20-6 loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, producing a staggering collection of miscues considering how much promise it showed in the season opener a week before.
Here are five instant takeaways from the debacle:
1. This could be their most costly loss of the season.
If the Dolphins are on the fringe of playoff contention toward the end of the year, this game will stick in everyone’s mind as a big problem. Regardless of Miami’s strenuous September schedule and having to serve as the opponent for a home opener Sunday, there’s no excuse for losing to a Jets team that’s actively tanking the season. When it’s Week 17 and some other game doesn’t break the Dolphins’ way to get them in the postseason, remember they threw this one away.
2. The story of Jay Cutler riding in as hero just ended.
There’s been nothing but glowing praise for Cutler since his arrival, with good cause considering the predicament the Dolphins faced when Ryan Tannehill went down, but that run skidded to a stop against the Jets. Cutler didn’t make any massive errors prior to a late interception, but he was off target all afternoon. He’s fought inconsistency throughout his career, so this harsh dose of reality was always lurking.
3. Cornerback was supposed to be a strength. So far, it’s not.
Byron Maxwell and Alterraun Verner went down to the wire competing for a starting cornerback job, and the Dolphins presented that as a sign of depth. Neither of them played well Sunday. Maxwell got beat so frequently that the Dolphins pulled him. On his first series replacing him, Verner got scorched for a 69-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Robby Anderson.
4. Penalties aren’t a big deal—unless you lose.
Coaches often brush off penalties as not a crucial factor, but Adam Gase can’t do that today. The Dolphins handed New York 90 yards on nine flags, which was something they couldn’t afford on a day like this. Rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, starting in place of the injured Jordan Phillips, got himself benched after two consecutive encroachments penalties.
5. Miami was a mess on third downs.
A big part of the Dolphins’ win over the Chargers last weekend was their third-down success on both sides of the ball. This week, they did well defensively but couldn’t get anything on offense. Miami failed to convert 11 of 12 third downs and punted seven times. There weren’t many glaring mistakes by the offense, but all those little stumbles added up to a nightmare afternoon.
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