Is it possible the Dolphins just aren't as talented as everyone had been led to believe? Is it as simple as the coaching staff just isn't good enough to get the most out of the team's talent? Or are there mystical forces at work that make it impossible for this team to win big games in the final weeks of the season? After Monday night's 34-27 loss to the Eagles, there certainly are more questions than answers when it comes to the Dolphins.

With Miami now at 8-6 and looking at missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season, what is left is trying to determine exactly how the Dolphins find themselves in this position.

Sure, things could get turned around in the next two weeks, the Dolphins could beat Buffalo and the Jets and Denver could lose to Indianapolis and Green Bay, and the Dolphins could sneak into the playoffs with a 10-6 record that really wouldn't be so bad after all.

But is there any reason to believe that will happen after what we saw Monday night?

And even if they do make the playoffs, do the Dolphins really have any hope of making a lot of noise in the postseason?

It obviously doesn't look good on any front after what we saw Monday night.

The Dolphins found yet another way to lose a big game, this time the defense falling apart and making wide receivers like Todd Pinkston and James Thrash look like Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison.

What happened to the vaunted defense, the one that was supposed to be different this year after the additions of Terrell Buckley, Sammy Knight and Jeff Zgonina.

Hate to say this, but Buckley and Knight both had lousy games against the Eagles. In fact, they looked just as bad as Arturo Freeman and Jamar Fletcher, the guys they were supposed to be a major upgrade over.

The offense actually had a good night against Philly, putting up almost 400 total yards and scoring 27, the second-highest output this season.

But it wasn't like there weren't bad mistakes made there, either, whether it was Chris Chambers dropping a key third-down pass late in the game or Jay Fiedler overthrowing James McKnight for an interception that basically sealed the outcome.

Again, the most optimist of fans will look at the possibility of the Dolphins winning two and the Broncos losing two — and the right team from Miami's standpoint should be favored in all four — but nothing that has happened this season or in the past couple of seasons gives you reason for optimism.

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