Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills didn't do much for optics, but everything for the 2021 Miami Dolphins remains right in front of the team. Despite the defeat, with a long season and 15 more games to go, Miami are currently off to their best start (1-1) since 2018.
The natural fan reaction coming off a lopsided loss is to request change. That might be the case for the lineup, but with regards to day-to-day, even hour-to-hour approach, that's not the way, according to several Miami assistants. Cornerbacks Coach Charles Burks' comments Tuesday were consistent with other assistants; a message of...consistency.
"Leaders have to keep an even-keeled mindset," Burks said. "If I panic, then that tells the players to panic."
The work of the coaches this week could provide them with the intel that suggests lineup changes are necessary, however. Head Coach Brian Flores said on Monday that the early portions of the aftermath assessment provided the staff with an opportunity to evaluate the personnel.
"We've got a lot of things that we need to improve on..." Flores said. "We'll do a better job of getting them prepared and ready to play. And yes, we'll take a look at personnel and see if we need to make any changes to play better than we did [Sunday]."
Lineup changes are a possibility, but that's not a guaranteed solution. Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre addressed the idea of a shakeup and the flexibility of several of the players in the group.[use a different quote not singling out one guy]
Every player from the starting lineup Sunday has played with this Dolphins team in the past and been a part of successful offensive performances and winning outcomes -- more often than not, in fact, over the last year. It'll be imperative for the group to make the corrections and afford the quarterback, whoever is up and starting on Sunday, more time to survey and make plays.
Sunday provides Miami with an opportunity to respond, not just on the offensive line, but across the board. Last year, under Flores, the Dolphins were 4-1 coming off a loss. Execution will be paramount to correcting course and getting back in the winner's circle, and that can be boiled down to the fundamentals and basics of the game.
Last season, Miami was charged with 32 dropped passes by Pro Football Focus, two per game. They dropped five on Sunday.
The Dolphins were 0-for-4 on fourth-down attempts against Buffalo, a far cry from the 80 percent (8-for-10) conversion rate of 2020. That's an area of opportunity for the team.
Last, and certainly not least, the penalties. Miami's nine penalties and 83 yards assessed on those infractions were the most for the team under Flores since Week 12 of 2019 in Cleveland.
Merely showing up doesn't fix these basic mistakes as focus and a consistent approach are required. And if history is any indication, this team and this coach will work tirelessly to make sure those statistics -- and coinciding results -- were an anomaly.