Brian Hartline: Dolphins 'not a dead team'

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are on a season-high three-game losing streak and confidence in the team is at an all-time low. Coming off a bye, Miami just lost a home game to a 2-4 team down to its third quarterback. That doesn't necessarily scream "playoffs."

But the Dolphins returned to work Monday with the mentality of maintaining their confidence heading into Sunday's game against the first-place New England Patriots. The Dolphins will be a sizable underdog and earned that label with sloppy and ineffective play the past few weeks.

"We're realistic with where we're at and the drop off that we've had," Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline said Monday. "But we're still alive. We're not a dead team. The division is very much for the taking of any team at this point."

The Dolphins (3-3) have gone from first place to third place in just a matter of weeks. They trail the Patriots (5-2) and New York Jets (4-3). Miami is a half game ahead of Buffalo (3-4) but lost to the Bills at home on Sunday.

The vibe from Dolphins fans in South Florida hasn't been good the past 24 hours. This was an embarrassing loss for Miami that has the potential to deflate the locker room. Although things can happen on any given Sunday in the NFL, there isn't much reason to believe the Dolphins can go up to Foxborough and upset the Patriots.

Miami will play two first-place teams – New England (5-2) and the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) – in a span of five days. The Dolphins could be 3-5 quickly if they do not turn things around.

“It’s tough, but it’s motivating at the same time,” Miami defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “We have another opportunity for a division opponent the following week after we feel we played a hard-fought game and came up with an ‘L.’ You can’t really erase the first game, but you can definitely make up for it.”

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin believes he has the answer.

“Faith in the process, faith in the coaches, faith in the players and good old-fashion hard work,” Philbin explained. “[We’ll] put our nose to the grindstone and stick together. We’ll come in here to work every single day to get better and improve.”

Miami, in an effort to improve, made a trade for veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. Once McKinnie learns the system, he will replace the struggling Tyson Clabo, and Jonathan Martin presumably will be moved to the right side.