Matching 4-7 records reflect that the Ravens and the Miami Dolphins have failed to live up to expectations as AFC playoff contenders this season.
But as the tough-luck Ravens have set an NFL record with their first 11 games each being decided by one possession, the Dolphins have experienced more embarrassment as six of their seven losses have come by 10 or more points and four have come by 16 or more. Only three of Miami’s 11 games have been decided by one possession, making the Dolphins the anti-Ravens in some regards.
Aside from their first two games under interim coach Dan Campbell — blowout wins over Tennesee and Houston in October — the Dolphins have rarely even been all that competitive, leading you to wonder about the future of an organization that hasn’t made the postseason since 2008. It’s one thing to lose big at New England on a Thursday night, but this is a Miami team that lost a home game to Buffalo by 27 points in late September.
You can doubt their talent, discipline, or football IQ, but the Ravens have rarely made you question their effort in a string of heartbreaking losses in 2015. Though not a good football team, Baltimore has shown up to play hard every week, which reflects a locker room not giving up on head coach John Harbaugh and the coaching staff.
The final score of the Dolphins’ 38-20 defeat to the New York Jets this past Sunday doesn’t fully illustrate how poor and listless the performance was that led to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor being fired on Monday, almost two months after head coach Joe Philbin was dismissed. Needless to say, 2015 has been a lost season for Miami like it’s been for the Ravens in this pass-fail business.
So, what exactly has gone wrong for a Miami team that ranks 27th in total offense and 28th in total defense?
We know that the Ravens’ well-documented injuries are a major factor — not the only one, but still a significant one — in one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history as 18 players currently reside on injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list. That group includes their Super Bowl XLVII MVP quarterback, their No. 1 receiver, their starting running back, the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year and six-time Pro Bowl linebacker, their starting center, and a former starting tight end.
But Miami has only two players on IR this season, though it’s important to note that one is four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. For a team with attractive pieces on both sides of the football, that level of health should typically put you in position to make a push for the postseason.
Instead, the Dolphins have floundered for most of the season due to poor coaching or a poor response to coaching — mostly likely both.
Miami has more talent than these current injury-ravaged Ravens and may show up to beat a team that’s led by veteran backup quarterback Matt Schaub on Sunday. But the Dolphins are just as likely to go through the motions and lose by double digits like they have too often in 2015.
Their records are the same and that’s all that matters in the end.
But only one team is deserving of respect.