It's official. The once proud Dolphins have hit rock bottom and are in the midst of their worst season in franchise history. They dropped to 0-7 Sunday for the first time in 42 seasons after a 49-28 thrashing at the hands of the undefeated Patriots.
"You have to stick together. You have no choice. It's a Navy Seal mentality," said winless first-year coach Cam Cameron. "This is a team. ... No one has put us in this position by ourselves. ... You find a way."
Cameron seems resigned to go with younger players, as evident by the early-week trade of veteran receiver Chris Chambers to the Chargers for a second-round pick.
That said, with quarterback Trent Green placed on injured reserve on Saturday to deal with the after-effects from his second major concussion in 13 months, and Cleo Lemon not showing much in his two starts, it's time to go with rookie quarterback John Beck.
Although Lemon is the first NFL quarterback to have three rushing touchdowns in his first three starts since Daunte Culpepper did it in 2000 for the Vikings, he has been inconsistent and appears indecisive in the pocket. Lemon was a decent 24 of 37 for 236 yards, but had no touchdown passes to go with a pick and a fumble.
The interception may have cost the Dolphins their lone bright spot of the season, as running back Ronnie Brown injured his right knee while attempting to tackle Patriots cornerback Randall Gay while returning the pick.
Most observers believe that Cameron will make the move after the Giants' game next week in London, and following the ensuing bye week with Beck's debut coming at home against the struggling Bills.
Already inserted in the starting lineup is rookie receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who was off to the slowest start by a Top 10 drafted receiver in the past nine years before Chambers was traded. Ginn started Sunday and had three catches -- matching his season total -- for 37 yards.
With Brown hurt, it seems time to finally activate third-round tailback Lorenzo Booker for the first time this season against the surging Giants.
"It obviously can (get darker)," Brown said. "We have nine more games left. We got to keep a positive attitude. I know I've been saying that every week but maybe we'll turn it around next week."
Although Dolphins fans are still angry at losing receiver Wes Welker to the Patriots in the offseason, especially after Welker rubbed it in with nine catches for 138 yards for two touchdowns Sunday, they're forgetting that the Dolphins received rookie center Samson Satele, who appears to be a long-term keeper. The Dolphins gained 179 rushing yards Sunday, and their revitalized attack is largely attributed to Satele's push in the middle.
The secondary is in shambles after two more injuries to safeties Renaldo Hill and rookie Courtney Bryan. Cameron challenged 2006 first-round disappointment safety Jason Allen this week to basically make some plays or take a hike next season.
While the Dolphins' offense has steadily improved, particularly the running game, last year's fourth-ranked defense has self-destructed and has now given up 90 points in the last two games and an average of 33 points a game.
"We're just not very good right now," middle linebacker Zach Thomas said. "We haven't played well against offenses that are mediocre, so I don't know how to say it. ... They just threw it up for grabs and they were bringing it down."
The Dolphins will be approximately $20 million under the salary cap heading into the offseason, so expect the rebuilding phase to accelerate as the aging defense gets a facelift. That could mean trading Jason Taylor while he's young enough to bring in a first-day draft pick.
"There are worse situations you can be in," Taylor said. "Put on Nancy Grace any time of the night and you'll see there are people who have it worse. I could be in Iraq. I try to find somehow to make myself feel better."