Well, let’s hope it gets better from here.
After all, the opening act of the 2019 season couldn’t have gone much worse for the Miami Dolphins, losing 59-10 to the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium.
They fell behind 28-0. And it was still early in the second quarter. They finally forced the Ravens to punt. And they fumbled the punt return. They forced another punt. And the Ravens went 60 yards on a fake. It was that kind of day.
Nobody is interested in excuses. Nobody wants to hear that you have the youngest team in the league by far, that 14 players have been added to the roster since the final preseason game, that the offensive line has one rookie starter at left guard, a first time starter at left tackle and a right guard and right tackle who are among those 14 new additions. In fact, 12 of the 14 players added following the preseason games were active Sunday against the Ravens. That’s more than a quarter of the team.
It would be easy to point to any and all of those things as the main reason for such a Sour Sunday. But the bottom line in this league is always the final score and on this day the Dolphins simply didn’t measure up. Didn’t really come close. Not in any phase. Not in any way.
You could see the disappointment on the face of first-year head coach Brian Flores as he addressed the media afterward. But you could also see the determination. See, Flores is a proud man and he refuses to let one game, one poor game, define his team or the journey it is undertaking. This was one step in that journey. Yes, one faulty step. Nonetheless, just one step.
“It starts with me,” Flores said. “I’ve got to do a better job coaching this team. We’ve got problems on offense, defense and special teams. Now we’ve got to try to fix them all. We’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”
Look at the offensive line, which I alluded to earlier. With Jesse Davis moving from right tackle to left tackle, with Danny Isidora and Julién Davenport starting less than 10 days after arriving and with rookie left guard Michael Deiter in his first NFL game, did you really expect a well-polished product?
Certainly not, but I never saw this type of performance coming. I mean it’s one thing that the offensive line struggled, but how about a defense that sure looked like the strength of this team during the preseason? How about giving up 643 total yards and 265 on the ground? How about the first play of the game when Ravens running back Mark Ingram ran through the heart of that defense for 49 yards or later in the first quarter when Lamar Jackson — who was near perfect in the game — found Marquise Brown on touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards?
Special teams? Up 35-3, the Ravens ran a fake punt for a 60-yards, setting up yet another touchdown. Did that rile Flores just a little?
“It’s our job to stop them,” he said.
Positives? You have to search hard to find them. So we searched.
- Undrafted rookie receiver Preston Williams got the start, an accomplishment by itself, and caught an 6-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick. He showed real promise, exactly what we saw in the preseason.
- Fellow receiver DeVante Parker, who also got the start, had one of the most gorgeous catches of his career, a 49-yarder in the second quarter that saw him out-jump a pair of Ravens defenders for the ball. Typical of the day, the play could only lead to a field goal.
- Tight end Mike Gesicki continues to make progress with 2 catches, one a leaping 26-yarder.
- Deon Lacey, one of the recently acquired 14, played well on special teams and Jason Sanders nailed a 54-yard field goal.
And that’s about it. You lose by 49 points and you’re fortunate to find that.
“Good thing we have practice tomorrow,” Flores said.
Good thing indeed. I’m not sure there’s enough time in the day to hit on everything that went wrong.
And it was just Thursday of last week when second-year linebacker Jerome Baker, now a team captain, was sitting at his locker speaking candidly about this team, his words then filled with so much promise.
“I’m excited to show people who we really are,” Baker said.
We can only hope it wasn’t what we saw on Sunday.