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Dolphins’ 0-2 start familiar, ‘baffling’

September 20, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

DAVIE (AP) - The Miami Dolphins are frustrated, embarrassed and baffled. Worse yet, they're winless.

So far there's no sign of improvement over 2010, when Miami was awful at home and missed the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.

Instead, the Dolphins have regressed. A 23-13 loss Sunday to Houston left them at 0-2, just like in 2006, '07, '08 and '09.

With two defeats at home in seven days, the Dolphins have lost 11 of the past 12 games in their own stadium.

"Baffling," coach Tony Sparano said.

"It's not a good feeling," running back Reggie Bush said. "I always believed that you have to defend home at all cost, no matter what. I look at it as an intruder coming into your home to rob you. You have to defend home at all cost."

Otherwise you could wind up in the basement. The Dolphins are alone in last place in the AFC East, while the other three teams are 2-0.

A sputtering offense, defensive breakdowns and special teams lapses are just some of the Dolphins' problems. There's renewed speculation about Sparano, who was nearly fired after a late-season fade to 7-9 in 2010.

Seeking reasons for optimism, the Dolphins might have to settle for this: Their next three games are on the road, and they play only once at home in the next seven weeks. They are at Cleveland (1-1) on Sunday.

"Us being in an 0-2 hole, it's kind of like a must win," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "We've got to turn this thing around. It's on the players."

Most teams wouldn't view a succession of road games as advantageous, but since Christmas 2009, the Dolphins have lost 11 times at home and only twice on the road. Last year their 6-2 road record included victories against the Jets, who reached the AFC championship game, and the Green Bay Packers, who won the Super Bowl.

"We may be a better road team," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "It hurts when you can't perform in front of your home crowd, because they deserve it. Every day I run into fans telling me they have been season-ticket holders since like '72, 30-something years. You want to play for those people. It's frustrating when you come up short. It's embarrassing."

Sparano conceded he has no explanation for the home-away disparity, but he's not counting on a change of scenery to salvage the season.

"It doesn't matter where we're playing. We could be playing in the middle of the street this week," he said. "We need to find a win."

There's already a sense of desperation. Linebacker Jason Taylor said lineup changes might be in order because he wasn't sure everyone was taking his job seriously enough.

"I'm glad he did say it," cornerback Nolan Carroll said Monday. "He has been around for 15 years. For him to say that to us is like a wake-up call."

Taylor, 37, had one of the Miami's better performances against Houston. He made one sack to increase his career total to 133 1/2, most among active players. He also had a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hurries.

Also encouraging was the performance of rookie Daniel Thomas, who became Miami's first 100-yard rusher in 21 games when he ran for 107 yards in his NFL debut.

Blocking again was spotty, Marshall dropped a potential touchdown pass and Bush totaled just 21 yards in seven touches. Chad Henne went only 12-for-30, the third time in his past six games that he has completed 40 percent of his throws or less.

"Definitely tough sledding out there," Henne said. "Obviously there was some throws out there that I wish I had back."

The defense showed improvement, mainly because it was so hideous in the opener against New England, but once Houston took an early lead, Miami couldn't come up with the stops needed to allow a comeback.

Cornerback Vontae Davis (hamstring) and linebacker Karlos Dansby (groin) were sidelined by injuries. Both were seen walking without a limp in the team complex Monday, but Sparano shed no light on their availability for the Cleveland game.

 
 
 

 

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