Dolphins a Work in Progress

OK, so maybe those high expectations placed on the Dolphins were a little unrealistic. Thursday night's game was to provide a good gauge of where they stood at this point going against the defending Super Bowl champions, albeit a team playing without its starting quarterback. It was the type of game where the Dolphins really could have made a statement. Instead, they made a question mark.

The 28-17 loss to the Steelers clearly showed the Dolphins still have a ways to go before we can start thinking about going deep into the playoffs or start talking Super Bowl.

The reality is this game was closer than the final score indicated, but the Steelers looked like they had control for a good 45 of the 60 minutes in the game.

And the way the Dolphins folded down the stretch was nothing short of alarming.

I mean, allowing an 87-yard touchdown to a tight end? Are you kidding me?

And, by the way, NBC folks, get over the angle of Nick Saban not doing a good job of getting his replay challenge. Yes, that was a mess-up, but even had the play been reviewed, the ball would have been placed at the 1 or 2, and Pittsburgh likely would have scored a touchdown anyway.

So the ball spot by the ref had little to do with the outcome.

Rather, it was the Dolphins' inability to execute down the stretch.

On that long touchdown pass, it sure looked like some miscommunication between Zach Thomas and safety Travares Tillman as to who was supposed to keep Miller from getting behind the defense.

But there were other problems on defense as well.

The secondary had a tough night, and that was very discouraging considering there was hope things would be better.

Andre Goodman had a tough night, this after having a very good preseason. Michael Lehan had a horrible hands-to-the-face penalty to give Pittsburgh a first down on a third-and-16, and the Steelers proceeded to hold the ball for eight minutes.

The defensive line is supposed to be the strength of the defense, but it was very quiet against a good Steelers O-line.

Offensively, we figured it would be difficult to run against the Steelers and it was.

But it shouldn't have been THAT difficult if the Dolphins are to be considered playoff contenders. Really, the Dolphins stopped bothering with the run in the second half, but they tried again when they needed a key first down holding a 17-14 lead and Ronnie Brown was stopped for a 2-yard loss. That's not good.

All was not bad in this game, though.

The one obvious bright spot was the play of Wes Welker, who was nothing short of sensational.

He clearly was Super Bowl caliber on this night, but not enough of his teammates were.

And that kind of talk really needs to stop until we see this team get better in a few key areas, notably the running game and the secondary.

As Nick Saban always says, what matters most is the process. So look at Game 1 as part of the process.

The truth is, though, many of us were looking at that game as much more, as maybe a declaration that the Dolphins had arrived.

They haven't arrived. They still might get there, but it's clear there's plenty of work that needs to be done.

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