It has been 35 years since the Dolphins visited this dreary place, the season before Don Shula took the odd team from Miami and elevated it to greatness.
No one saw this coming. After all, who could have predicted such an unabated plummet from playoff contender to NFL patsy?
Is there hope for this team? Or, is the end game a 3-13 record and a top 3 pick in the draft?
Conversations such as these happen to teams like San Diego, Cincinnati, and Arizona.
This is the price the Dolphins are paying for neglecting the offense over the past four years. Injuries and defections have simply accelerated the bill coming due.
We knew that the personnel losses would be tough to overcome. Overall, we figured the offense would be slow to gel.
We expected "slow". We understood "slow".
We didnít expect "crash and burn".
The Dolphins didnít either. They didnít expect all the injuries, injuries that are having a negative impact on the quality of offensive and special teams play.
But the Dolphins havenít helped themselves with some of the questionable decisions that theyíve made.
They planned to play youth along a re-built offensive line, hoping that the progress would come quickly.
It hasnít. They stink just as badly today as they did a month ago.
This has become more than just a progress issue; it is a talent issue and, perhaps, a coaching issue.
I say "perhaps" to the coaching because you will not find a more respected line coach in the NFL than Tony Wise. He knows his stuff.
Still, not even Wise can make chicken soup out of chicken feathers.
This leads us to General Manager Rick Spielman.
Has Spielman saddled this team with sub-par line talent? Should he have paid Todd Wade? Should he have been more aggressive in addressing the left tackle position?
All are fair questions. Based on what weíve seen thus far, it doesnít appear as though Spielman delivered the goods.
Also fair is a conversation about A.J. Feeley. We knew heíd make mistakes, just not this many and not as grievous.
At times his play borders on careless, so anxious is he to make something happen.
On one hand, who can blame him? He certainly canít wait for the running game to carry the day!
On the other hand, he isnít giving his team a chance to win when he offers up weekly gifts to guys like Lamont Thompson and Brian Simmons.
Then again, this is all part of the sometimes painful learning process that Feeley (and all of Dolphin-dom) must endure.
Speaking of pain, one wonders if Feeley is in a quality learning situation given the lousy line in front of him. The man cannot even get comfortable in the pocket for more than a microsecond before the heat comes.
Just as the Titans and the Bengals did, the Steelers hit him hard and often. Talk about the school of hard-knocks!
New quarterback coach Marc Trestman is as good as they come. If anyone can help Feeley through this learning period, it is Trestman.
I remain steadfast in the belief that the Dolphins must continue to play Feeley, pain and all. We wonít know if Feeley can be "the man" if he is carrying a clipboard. Just ask Sage Rosenfels.
Besides, what ails this offense right now more than anything else are the five guys up front.
Playing Jay Fiedler in lieu of a healthy Feeley will gain nothing positive. Nothing.
Think about it.
Also think about new offensive coordinator Chris Foerster and the job he has done thus far.
Whatever music Foersterís playing, the Dolphins arenít dancing to it.
The Dolphins simply arenít executing the plays. Whatís worse is that Foerster hasnít even implemented the entire playbook yet. Heck, itís only Week 4!
Was it smart for Dave Wannstedt to name a rookie offensive coordinator given the issues that he knew about even before Ricky Williams quit and David Boston was lost?
Wouldnít it have been better for a seasoned guy to step in and bring stability to that unit?
Donít believe for a second that the Dolphins arenít missing Norv Turner in a big, big way.
Objectively, Foerster has not had the services of the starting offensive backfield. This is a situation that appears to be a longer and more ruinous prospect than what weíve been told.
For sure, no coach is going to excel without excellent players. But there are the most fundamental expectations here for which there must be accountability.
Start with breaking a huddle or snapping the football without the constant mishaps.
These are not Quarterback School concepts; this is Pop Warner stuff for gosh sakes!
"Embarrassing" is what Wannstedt calls it.
Of that there is no debate.
We just wonder if this is as good as it gets for the 2004 Dolphins.