SAME OLD STORY

So it turns out the Thanksgiving Day breakout performance at Dallas indeed was an aberration. And it appears, until proven otherwise, that these are the same old Dolphins with the same old problems. And that, once again, is an offense that can't be counted on to deliver in big games.

If anyone complains about the defense after the effort it turned in Sunday at snowy Foxboro, check the football knowledge because it ain't there.

Yes, the Dolphins allowed New England to control the ball in the first quarter and gave up a little too much yardage on the ground at times.

But guess what? That was a championship-caliber effort on defense.

On offense, it was putrid from A to Z.

You couldn't find anybody on the starting offense who had a good game, and we'll throw the coaching staff into the mix as well.

Why did it look like the Dolphins were totally unprepared for New England's variety of blitzes. Was it that shocking that the Patriots would send linebacker Mike Vrabel or safety Rodney Harrison after Jay Fiedler?

Some of the play-calling also left a lot to be desired. Such as running the ball three straight times on the drive that followed Tedy Bruschi's interception return for a touchdown. Such as a couple of deep sideline passes with Fiedler going against the wind in the fourth quarter. Fiedler isn't a good deep passer in good conditions, why are you asking him to throw deep in bad ones.

But the ugly truth is it might not have made a difference was play was being called on this day.

Fiedler wasn't sharp in the least, the offensive line got smoked all day and the receivers didn't do anything to help.

Randy McMichael can talk smack with Harrison all he wants, but Harrison played a great game on Sunday and McMichael didn't do a thing. Also, what was Chris Chambers thinking when he failed to look back or make a cut on a pass that wound up right into the hands of Pats cornerback Ty Law in the fourth quarter?

Ugh. Those are just the ugly details. The question is, what can be done about it? And how soon?

Unfortunately, what can be done about it is easy to answer but no easy to implement.

The Dolphins, first and foremost, need better quarterbacking play. As in a new quarterback. That will have to come in the offseason.

For the time being, the Dolphins can win with Fiedler, but they will never win consistently because of Fiedler the way Indy wins with Peyton Manning and Tennessee wins with Steve McNair.

So the Dolphins have to hope Fiedler can get on a roll, even though it's not likely to last that long because his history is against it.

Second, the offensive line needs to get it together. It played very well at Dallas, which made Sunday's performance at New England all the more disappointing.

It looked like everybody struggled, but Wade Smith again was exposed.

We've said it before, he looks like he's got a nice future, but he's a rookie and will be inconsistent because of it. That's not a position you want to be in at left tackle.

Unfortunately, the Dolphins left themselves in this predicament by not signing a veteran left tackle in the offseason and hoping Mark Dixon would make it through the season healthy.

As with Fiedler, the Dolphins have to hope Smith gets on a roll. But it also doesn't look great at this point.

What all of this means is the Dolphins, barring a turnaround, are looking at once again spoiling a strong defense with an offense that just doesn't measure up.

At the very least, this season will have proven that there can be no more neglecting the offseason in the offense.


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