MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- We have officially entered the dog days of the Miami Dolphins' 2015 season. The last remnants of hope were blown to dozens of pieces in Monday's 31-24 loss to the New York Giants.
The defeat mathematically eliminated the Dolphins (5-8) from postseason contention, although in reality the team was out of it a couple weeks ago. The loss also guaranteed Miami will have its seventh consecutive non-winning season and likely a new coaching staff and front office once the regular season is complete.
But what happens in the meantime?
The Dolphins still have three meaningless games remaining against the San Diego Chargers (3-10), Indianapolis Colts (6-7) and New England Patriots (11-2). The best they can finish is .500, which is what the team's record was the past two seasons.
“I hate to be in this situation again, but it seems like it’s the same thing every year,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said. “We’ll see what kind of character we got on this football team. We’ll see what guys really like football and find the ones that don’t and we’ll get them out of here.”
Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s 84-yard touchdown catch was a fitting exclamation point to a disastrous season once filled with promise. Miami safety Reshad Jones and cornerback Jamar Taylor mixed up their assignments and allowed Beckham to run free for the game-winning touchdown.
I asked Jones after the game to explain what went wrong on the play. According to Jones, Taylor misplayed his assignment.
“It was probably a miscommunication,” Jones said. “I was doing my job and doing what I was supposed to do. The corner [Taylor] was supposed to follow up and go over the top, which he didn’t.”
The coaching staff also had their bevy of errors. The defensive staff played one-on-one coverage with Beckham, who had seven receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns, way too much. The offensive staff gave Dolphins running back Lamar Miller, who had two touchdowns and averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, one carry in the fourth quarter in a close game. Miller said afterwards he was healthy and nothing was wrong with him down the stretch.
Finally interim head coach Dan Campbell, at midfield and down seven points, decided to punt the ball back to Giants quarterback Eli Manning with 4:52 left in the game -- the same Manning who only had four incompletions on Monday. Of course, Manning leads New York to a couple first downs and Miami's offense never got the ball back.
The Dolphins have issues in a lot of areas, which sums up their 5-8 season. Major changes are coming because that is the only way to get the team better in the future. The clock is ticking with three weeks remaining.
“We’re going to find out who really loves the game and who really plays for each other and not as individuals,” Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry said. “So we’re going to come out here and go to work and finish these last three strong.”