The Miami Dolphins suffered a 21-11 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday in a game that showed they have improved, but still have a ways to go to be considered a contender to win the AFC East. The first and most obvious issue is the lack of offensive firepower, which was made even more clear once wide receiver DeVante Parker exited the game early in the second half with a hamstring injury.
Miami spent the offseason improving its offensive and defensive lines, but largely stood pat with the receiver and tight end rooms. Too often Sunday, Dolphins receivers struggled to get separation against Patriots defensive backs, forcing them into plenty of jump ball situations.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick forced the ball way too often, throwing three interceptions and doing little to quiet the inevitable calls to give rookie Tua Tagovailoa a shot at being the starting quarterback sooner than later. The offense totaled 269 yards.
QB Breakdown: Fitzpatrick was the easy choice to start the season for Miami given his past chemistry in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's scheme and the shortened offseason, but he didn't play well and it was a little disconcerting to see the offense out of sync. Fitzpatrick went 20-of-30 for 191 yards and three interceptions.
Fitzpatrick has 18 career games with at least three interceptions, second most in the NFL since he entered in 2005 (Eli Manning, 23). Fitzpatrick's teams are 0-18 when that happens. Fitzpatrick's 18 games with three interceptions are tied with New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees for most among active players. However, Brees has started 135 more games than Fitzpatrick.
It's too early to make a switch to Tagovailoa but a couple more games like this will make the calls get louder.
Troubling trend: The Dolphins gave up 217 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry, which put a damper on a defense that Miami spent a lot on improving this offseason. Christian Wilkins and Jerome Baker both flashed some ability, but ultimately they got pushed around too much on the defensive front. New England QB Cam Newton (75 rushing yards) added a more difficult dynamic to defend, but the Dolphins couldn't contain the Patriots' running backs, either. The challenge doesn't get any easier next week against Buffalo with quarterback Josh Allen and running back Devin Singletary coming to town.
Silver lining: The Dolphins' new-look offensive line gave up one sack -- late in the fourth quarter when Miami was in obvious passing mode. Miami's biggest weakness last season was its offensive line -- tied for a league-high in sacks in 2019 -- but four new starters held their own in their first action together. They can improve in providing more push in the run game but the pass blocking improvement is worth some silver lining love. Let's see if they can continue it.