If reality bothers you, then turn away now.
Catch you in the next column.
But if you embrace the truth and facts because reality is important, then this is for you.
This, by the way, is about the Miami Dolphins’ offense.
It’s not a bad offense. It has it’s good moments. It’s trying to get better and has delivered signs that’s possible.
But is it inconsistent? Lost at times?
This unit is inconsistent beyond mere production. It’s so inconsistent at its core that it’s author struggles to identify what it does best.
“I think it’s week by week,” offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said Tuesday. “We’re one of those offenses that tries to take what the defense gives us. I don’t want to pigeonhole who we are offensively.
“I think we try to run the ball effectively, we throw it when we need to throw it. We’ve got to be more consistent with what we’re doing. If people are going to stack the box and we have to throw it, then we’re going to throw it.
“If they play soft and let us run it, we’ve got to be able to run it effectively. It gets back to execution and being consistent with the things we’re trying to get done. I don’t like to worry too much about identity. I just want to make sure we’re being consistent and moving the ball on a consistent bases.”
It’s good Gailey isn’t too worried about identity. Because 10 games into the season, this offense doesn’t have one.
What that means is there is no one thing the Dolphins can do game-in and game-out that coaches know, and players know, and everyone knows they know will work.
Not running the football.
Not passing the football.
Not being physical to the point of seeming violent.
Not being high-flying and explosive.
Yes, the Miami offense tries to do all of those things. And at times it has had success with some of them.
But a go-to that Gailey and his players can rely on when nothing else seems to work?
So let’s be specific …
The running game: None of the pertinent statistics are kind to the Dolphins in this category. They are last in the NFL, averaging 3.6 yards per rush. They are 30th in the NFL, averaging 95.3 rushing yards per game. They’re tied for 30th in the NFL, with three fumbles lost.
The Dolphins are also tied for 30th on longest run from scrimmage — 29 yards — and that was by a wide receiver.
Those are the statistics of the Dolphins running game. These are the factors:
The offseason acquisitions of Jordan Howard and Matt Breida have not panned out as hoped. Howard struggled so much he was eventually cut. And Breida has only managed to be a change-of-pace back who so far hasn’t performed at any high level.
Breida came to the Dolphins in a trade for a fifth-round draft pick with a 5-yard per rush career average. He’s averaging 3.6 yards per rush now.
The Dolphins believed they had a solid back in Myles Gaskin early in the season. But he suffered a knee injury and is working his way back to health. Salvon Ahmed replaced Gaskin and showed signs he might help, but he also got injured and is working his way back to health.
So now the Dolphins aren’t always certain who’s going to carry the ball, and what plays that runner is most effective running — because the player changes week to week.
This week is no different as Gailey said Tuesday he still wasn’t certain what his backfield would look like against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
“I think it depends on everybody’s health,” Gailey said. “I can’t answer that question today. I think we’ve got to see how healthy everybody is. Somebody like Myles who has missed three weeks, what’s his conditioning level? There are just so many things up in the air right now to try to answer that question.
“I think that’s a question for maybe even all the way until Sunday before we really know what’s going to happen on that.”
This would be a manageable situation if the Dolphins were a prolific passing team. But they’re not.
At least not consistently to the point that it’s their identity.
The specifics …
The passing game: The Dolphins are the NFL’s 25th ranked passing team, averaging 216.6 yards per game. For perspective, the Kansas City Chiefs, which play Miami in two weeks, lead the NFL, averaging 314.5 passing yards per game.
So, the Chiefs have a certain identity of being explosive and pass centered on offense.
Those are the facts of Miami’s passing prowess. These are the factors:
The Dolphins are breaking in a rookie quarterback. So there are challenges with that because, simply, rookie Tua Tagovailoa does not and cannot not be expected to know as much as veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“Not to the level of Fitz,” Gailey said. “Very few people have that ability. He’s an amazingly smart guy and Tua hasn’t been in the offense six games yet. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.
“Is he where Fitz is? No, he is not. But has he come a long way and is he making progress? Yes, very definitely.”
But it’s not all about the quarterbacks. The offensive line that seemed solid earlier this season suddenly is showing some warts.
Rookie right guard Solomon Kindley struggled for a couple of games before and after he injured his foot. Rookie left tackle Austin Jackson was better before an ankle injury that forced him onto the injured reserve list than he’s been in the games since his return.
And at the wide receivers spot, the Dolphins have clearly missed second-year starter Preston Williams.
Williams injured his foot and hasn’t played since Nov. 8. The Dolphins have had to lean heavily on DeVante Parker since that time while the players trying to fill the Williams void have not yet factored to any great degree.
So where does that leave us?
The fix must start at the top. Gailey is embracing the idea that his unit will do whatever the defense gives him and that sounds acceptable but it’s actually capitulating to the will of the opponent.
Because given the choice, defenses are rarely going to choose to let the Dolphins do what they do best.
So the very idea of running if the defense is trying to stop the pass, and passing if they’re trying to stop the run is flawed.
The Chiefs pass and I’m quite certain everyone would rather they run. But they pass anyway.
The New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens — offenses that score with varying degrees of success — all run the football no matter what. Because that’s what their talent is best suited to do.
So that’s what they do.
They have found an identity and are sticking with that regardless of what the defense is giving them.