It's been pretty frustrating watching the Dolphins play it so close to the vest on offense the last couple of weeks, but the truth is they don't have much of a choice. They just need to do it better than they have and stop making those killer mistakes.

You can talk all you want about the need to open up the offense a little bit and getting Ray Lucas on the outside and let him throw the ball downfield and all that.

That's just fine and dandy, but it's a recipe for disaster when you have a quarterback playing as poorly as Lucas is playing right now.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said Lucas is making progress every game, but the truth is he easily could have been picked off four or five times by the Jets had their defenders — cornerback Donnie Abraham in particular — been able to hang on to passes.

The Dolphins went in against the Jets with the idea of doing everything they could to minimize turnovers and then let the defense win the game, and it almost worked.

The defense did its part, regardless of the fact it got no sacks and no takeaways. Those guys played great.

But the offense basically gave away 14 points with the fumble at their own 5-yard line when Lucas made a mental mistake and forgot where Robert Edwards was going to be lined up at the time he was going to hand off to him and the Ricky Williams fumble inside the Jets 2-yard line.

The sad part is those were two supposedly safe plays. But the way the Dolphins are playing right now, nothing is safe.

Here's all you need to know about the offense's inability to do anything with Lucas at quarterback.

They drove into Jets territory three times in the fourth quarter but never could put themselves in position to even try a field goal.

On the last drive, they were in great shape with a second-and-3 at the Jets 38-yard line, but Lucas then failed to pick up blitzing cornerback Ray Mickens quickly enough and he went down for a 9-yard sack. Ballgame.

That stuff doesn't happen to good quarterbacks.

The one obvious question is why is Lucas playing so poorly, considering how well he played in the preseason and how well he played in his nine starts with the Jets in 1999.

It might boil down to Lucas' personality. Let's establish first that Lucas really is a good guy.

The problem is he's too emotional, and maybe he's worked himself up too much and wants too much to show he can do the job.

The knock on him always has been that he lacks touch on his passes, and that certainly has been evident the last three weeks.

Lucas also has had a nasty habit of locking in to his receiver, which gives the defense a major advantage.

Whatever the reason, it's obvious by now that the Dolphins will need a new backup quarterback next season.

But for now, they have no choice because Sage Rosenfels isn't going to do any better than Lucas at this point, and neither is Dave Dickenson.

That means the Dolphins have to win the game in other ways than with the quarterback.

It's a formula that leaves little room for error. And the Dolphins have done nothing but make errors lately.

If they don't stop that soon, their season will go down the drain.

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