Last week, Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase called his offense “garbage.” It will be interesting to see what Gase thinks of his group this Sunday after Miami’s 20-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints in London.
The Dolphins were shut out for the first time since Dec. 22, 2013. The offense is averaging an anemic 8.3 points per game and making it very tough for the Dolphins (1-2) to win. The $10 million acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler (163 yards, no touchdowns, one interception against the Saints) also is not paying dividends early.
Miami's offense was expected to produce much better results. There are two Pro Bowlers in running back Jay Ajayi and receiver Jarvis Landry, in addition to other talented skill players such as tight end Julius Thomas and receivers DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. This group, however, has looked lethargic and sloppy through three games.
The Dolphins’ slow start offensively is a major sticking point for Gase, who calls the plays. Expect this to be a focal point this week.
What I liked: Despite the offensive struggles, Miami’s defense continues to play hard. The Dolphins held the Saints’ high-powered offense to three points in the first half, and the defense did enough to keep them in the game. But it was just a matter of time before Saints future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees (268 yards, two touchdowns) made plays. Brees often tested Dolphins rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, who made his first career start, and beat Tankersley with a touchdown throw to receiver Michael Thomas in the third quarter. Otherwise, the Dolphins didn’t make many bad plays defensively.
What I didn’t like: Miami’s offense lacks imagination. The Dolphins look lost this season when the running game isn’t the catalyst. The change from injured quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Cutler was expected to make Miami more aggressive. Instead, the Dolphins are still playing conservatively and making short throws, which is not Cutler’s strength. Cutler didn’t test the Saints' secondary deep until an incompletion to Parker at the 11:35 mark of the fourth quarter. At that point, the Dolphins trailed 13-0 and were forced to open things up. The Dolphins are 2-for-20 on third-down conversions in their past two games.
Fantasy fallout: Ajayi's return to London, his hometown, was a major storyline heading into the game. Many fantasy owners expected a big performance from the local product, but Ajayi had just 46 rushing yards on 12 carries. Between the offense’s struggles and the Dolphins falling behind early, Ajayi wasn’t able to get in a groove. He even expressed frustration with coaches on the sideline in the first half after he was taken out of the game on third down.
Protest watch: Three Dolphins protested during the national anthem this week, as Stills, Julius Thomas and safety Michael Thomas took a knee. Stills and Julius Thomas did the same last week.
What’s next: The Dolphins will be the last NFL team to play a home game this season when they host the Tennessee Titans next week. The Dolphins asked the league this offseason not to give them a bye after the London game because they preferred it later in the season. However, unplanned circumstances gave Miami its bye in Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma.