1) Fast start, but lacked consistency
The first thirty minutes had it’s ups and downs, but overall the Miami Dolphins went toe-to-toe with the Los Angeles Chargers. They answered the Chargers opening drive with a score of their own when quarterback Josh Rosen found DeVante Parker on a wheel route for an uncontested 34-yard touchdown. Looking like he was in command of the offense, Rosen went four-for-four, throwing for 75 yards on the first drive that resulted in a touchdown. With the score at 7-3, it marked the first lead the Dolphins have had through the first four weeks of the season. The Dolphins also responded when placekicker Jason Sanders hit from 30 yards out to tie the score at 10 in the second quarter. It’s at this point of the game where things started to change in a negative fashion for Miami. After a defensive stop, the Miami offense took over around midfield. A drop over the middle by Preston Williams led to an incompletion on third down. A miss wide right from Sanders from 50 yards should have been from shorter distance if the drop doesn’t occur on earlier in the series. It gave a veteran quarterback a short field and Philip Rivers took advantage of the situation. Rivers didn’t waste any time. He went eight plays and eventually found Austin Ekeler for an 18-yard touchdown and a 17-10 lead. The Dolphins had another chance to tack on three points just before halftime, but another Sanders miss from 52 took more momentum away from a team looking for better overall execution. Miami was only down seven at this point heading to halftime, but it just felt like more after leaving points and opportunities on the field.
2) Third quarter struggles
The Dolphins deferred the opening coin toss, so they were getting the football first to open the second half. It was a chance to take the ball on offense and after making some subtle adjustments at halftime, come out and try to tie the score at 17. However, Miami’s offense only managed five plays on the opening drive of the second half, only to punt the ball back to Rivers, who now started the drive on his own 10-yard line. It seemed like a prime position for the defense to get a three-and-out, flip the field and keep the pressure on the Chargers. What transpired next didn’t officially end the game, but it started the downward spiral for the Dolphins. The Chargers controlled the ball for the next 10 minutes and 33 seconds, converting three third-down conversions and ending with a field goal to take a 10-point lead. Miami could only hold the ball for three plays when they took the field on the next position, and being backed up inside their own five-yard line, gave Rivers and company excellent field position. After a Matt Haack punt, the LA offense only needed to travel 56 yards for six points, and that would be all the points needed to officially put the Dolphins away. Miami must find a way to play with better execution and consistency in the second half. They’ve been out-scored 81-0 through the first four games in the second half alone and you’re not going to win at all this season if that issue isn’t corrected after the bye week.
3) Zero pressure applied
Let's start with the good news: defensive end Taco Charlton recorded his second sack in two weeks since being acquired from the Dallas Cowboys. Charlton’s new surroundings could turn around his young career and hopefully be a consistent force up front for the Dolphins defense now and in the near future. Yet, overall, the Miami defense hasn’t been able to disrupt the timing or even harass the opposing quarterback in the first four weeks of the season. Against the Chargers, quarterback Philip Rivers looked like he was participating in a seven-on-seven contest, never feeling any pressure that impacted the timing of his pass offense. The lack of pressure makes the secondary stay in coverage for a couple of seconds too long. Players like Rivers eventually will take advantage those situations, as he did this Sunday, throwing for 309 yards on 24 completions and two touchdowns.