NFL Wire News

Dolphins’ 2014 Analysis: Another December slide


DAVIE, Fla. — Somehow Dolphins coach Joe Philbin saw progress in his team despite its 8-8 record.

“I do think we were better until (Sunday’s 37-24 loss to the New York Jets),” Philbin said. “I don’t think we had lost to a team with a losing record (this season).

“Obviously that’s not the case anymore, but I thought that was a positive thing that things were headed in the right direction. We have to finish the season better.”

Clearly, Philbin knows his weakness.

The Dolphins were 2-3 in December this year, and 1-3 in their last four games, a time in which they allowed an average of 35.3 points per game.

December has been a problem for the Dolphins for much of the last six years, which helps explain why they haven’t made the playoffs during that span.

In 2009 and 2010, under former coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins lost their final three games to finish 7-9.

In 2012, Philbin’s first season, the Dolphins went 2-3 in December and finished 7-9.

Last year, the Dolphins went 3-2 in December, but they lost their last two games and missed the playoffs.

This year’s late-season swoon was thorough, and certainly indicates Miami took a step backward.

The offense had a three-game December stretch against the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in which it scored a total of three touchdowns.

The defense, the unit most responsible for winning games, produced eight sacks and five turnovers in December’s five games. The Dolphins were even in takeaway/giveaway in December.

Getting off to a good start is important in the NFL. But finishing strong is even more important, and the failure to win in December told the story of Miami’s season for the second consecutive year.

Although Philbin said he saw improvement in his team, he also told his team he “failed” owner Steve Ross.

“Going 8-8 again, obviously I failed my obligation of responsibility I made to Mr. Ross,” Philbin said. “I didn’t do well enough coaching this football team to get them better. I started with that. Then I said we are all in this thing together.

“It’s certainly not about Joe Philbin. It’s not the Joe Philbin show here. It’s about the Miami Dolphins winning championships and playing up to our potential. We have to find ways to improve and do that quickly. That was really the message, the main message.”

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