The Miami Dolphins once promising season came to a sputtering end on Saturday night in a 26-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at a frozen Arrowhead Stadium.
After seemingly having the AFC East all but locked up with a 27-13 lead over the Tennessee Titans in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Dolphins now find themselves preparing for a very long offseason of questions upon their return to south Florida.
The first starts on the offensive side of the ball, and it begins with their supposed star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who completed 17 of 35 attempts for 171 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Tagovailoa once again struggled against a high-quality defense in a hostile and freezing environment, misfiring repeatedly on short passes all over the field, including short swing passes. Miami certainly has a big decision on what to do with him long term.
The team exercised their fifth-year option, so he’s coming back in 2024, but how much does the team invest to keep him in town beyond that? The last two months of the season have sewn doubt about his ability to handle adversity.
The offensive line, which couldn’t get a push in the running game to help sustain drives on Saturday, is a complete mystery between the tackles. All three Week 1 starters in Isaiah Wynn, Connor Williams, and Robert Hunt are all unrestricted free agents. Pro Bowler Raheem Mostert is also a free agent.
On defense, Miami wasn’t close to good enough when they needed to be, although a rash of injuries certainly had a fair bit to do with it. It’ll be curious to see what Mike McDaniel chooses to do with his defense moving forward. Stick with the plan and gear up with some quality depth signings? Do they shake it up with a new coordinator and some new pieces? Do they pay Christian Wilkins the dollars he’s earned this season?
And goodness gracious, perhaps the biggest question of the franchise needs to be figured out: why can’t this team stay healthy? Injuries certainly are a thing every team has to deal with, but Miami has been decimated the last two seasons. Injuries are a large part about luck, but is there something else to the Dolphins getting absolutely devastated this way?
And where is the leadership on this team? Why can’t this group – in dogfights against the best teams in the league – find a way to rally and play tough and with some pride? Losing is one thing. Losing by getting dominated as they did against Buffalo, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Kansas City is hard to figure out. This team has too much talent to lose in the rudderless way they did on those occasions.
Regardless, the offseason begins, and McDaniel, Chris Grier, and company must find a way to begin to address and solve some of these questions and issues over what will be a dreary remainder of the winter until free agency and the draft arrive.