After winning the Stupor Bowl, is Miami on its way to making sad NFL history?
When it counted most, the Miami Dolphins came through last weekend, “winning’’ Stupor Bowl I the only way they could – by losing. They didn’t award them the Hue Jackson Trophy, but if it existed they would have earned it.
You get the Lombardi Trophy for winning the Super Bowl. You’re handed the Jackson Trophy for winning the No. 1 draft choice next season. That's something Miami likely accomplished by dropping a potential two-point conversion pass at the end of a 17-16 loss to the lowly (but not lowliest) Washington Redskins, thus ensuring Miami remained the worst excuse for a football team this season.
Jackson is one of the losingest coaches in NFL history to ever manage anything resembling longevity. In the three years he led the Cleveland Browns, his team went a remarkable 3-36-1, including a stretch where it was 1-31.
Keeping a head coaching job for three years with that kind of record should make you a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Miami’s rookie head coach Brian Flores now finds himself in position to run the table himself. With a little bad luck and some consistency the Dolphins could easily go 0-16 after dodging a bullet against the Redskins. For that, they would receive the draft’s first pick, and likely their third new quarterback in as many years.
Whether that helps remains to be seen because they already have a quarterback they acquired in the offseason who was the draft’s 10th overall pick a year ago. And just seven years ago they drafted now departed Ryan Tannehill with the eighth pick in the first round.
Past performance may not signify future success, as they say in the investment trade, but the Dolphins' track record acquiring young quarterbacks makes it likely that the guy they take next has a good chance not to be The Man.
Just ask Josh Rosen. Three weeks ago Flores replaced veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick with Rosen and declared the job was his. Just a week ago Flores assured Rosen was “settled’’ as the starter despite two straight losses. Even after replacing him in the second half of the Stupor Bowl with Fitzpatrick, he insisted Rosen would still be his starter this week even though the Amish Rifle led Miami from a 14-point deficit to a one-point loss.
Three days later, Flores announces Fitzpatrick would start on Sunday while adding, “We have a lot of confidence in Josh.’’
You do? Based on what?
Rosen ranks last in the league in completion percentage, average yards- per-pass-attempt and quarterback rating. He is a career 3-13 as an NFL starter. You just took his job away for a guy who is 50-77-1 as a starter over 15 NFL seasons. So a lot of confidence about what? That Rosen can be relied upon to keep this party rolling to its inevitable 0-16 conclusion if Fitzpatrick proves untrustworthy?
There have been only two teams in NFL history to stagger to 0-16 finishes: Jackson’s 2017 Cleveland Browns and the trailblazing 2008 Detroit Lions, who were the first to pull it off.
The Lions were the worst of the two, averaging two more points per game than the Brownies but allowing just under a touchdown more. To allow 32.3 points a game ON AVERAGE takes some doing, but the Dolphins are on track to beat that number unless something changes, which Miami’s brain trust hopes it won’t.
How bad are these Dolphins? Well let’s judge them by their peers, of which there are potentially only two.
Jackson’s 2017 Browns went 0-16 by averaging 14.6 points a game while allowing 25.6. By the 2008 Lions’ standards, Cleveland was a juggernaut. Detroit scored an average of 16.8 points a game but allowed a whopping 32.3. Gloomy as those numbers may appear, they ain’t got nothing on this year’s Dolphins.
Admittedly, Miami has a long way to go to pull off this bottom-feeding form of NFL history, but at 0-5 the Dolphins have a good jump on it. They have been outscored by 138 points, which Pro Football Reference says is the third-most through five games since 1940. At their present rate of ineptitude, the Dolphins could end up allowing the most points and scoring the fewest since the league went to the 16-game schedule in 1978.
Not only did they manage to lose last weekend to a team that had yet to win; they thus far are averaging only 8.4 points a game while allowing a ridiculous 36. Both are record-breaking numbers.
Miami’s present point differential of -138 is more than double the next worst in the AFC. Only the 1-5 Redskins, at -77, are more than half as bad.
So the one remaining question for the Miami Dolphins this season is this: Beyond whether they become the first team in NFL history to have no fans in attendance at a regular-season game, can they keep up this record pace? Can they replace those 2008 Lions as the worst team since the era of the 16-game season began?
I have more confidence in that than Brian Flores has in Josh Rosen. Or Ryan Fitzpatrick.