Another year, another Miami Dolphins season ending in disappointing agony for their fans. Having a night to sleep after they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round of the NFL Playoffs Saturday night, 26-7, there should be now be an open headspace to reflect after the seething anger fans had to undergo when purchasing, and soon after, canceling their Peacock subscription.

The question lies after the ugly loss last night, who are the people on the Dolphins most to blame? Well, if you will indulge, is this season considered a failure or some type of success?

There is something to say that under head coach Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins have made back-to-back playoff appearances, the first time since they did so in 2000 and 2001. The offense this season was dynamic, the defense was trending upward, and Miami seemed to be a lock for the division until Dec. 11 when they lost to the Tennessee Titans at home.

The Dolphins were known for beating on the inferior teams, especially at home and with a strong lead of the AFC East ahead of the Buffalo Bills, but they let it slip game by game. Narratives started to build around this team, which are very much valid now, but still, Miami finished with 11 wins, the first time since 2008 where they won the division, but still lost in the wild cad round.

Is it a curse? Maybe, but let's take a look and see who's to blame for the Dolphins brutal loss to the Chiefs:

Tua Tagovailoa

Dolphins qb Tua Tagovailoa cold

This pains to say, but Tagovailoa's performance was dreadful. Apart from the big touchdown throw to superstar receiver Tyreek Hill that gave some life to this team amidst the blockades surrounding the Dolphins, there was nothing to write home about.

There have been a lot of talks about Tagovailoa and about his status as a true franchise quarterback. While it is fair to say he had a marvelous year and took a huge step forward, the narrative that he freezes up (no pun intended with the weather) in big games is entirely valid.

Despite his outing in the win against the Dallas Cowboys at Hard Rock Stadium on Dec. 24, there have been little to no clutch moments with him in a Dolphins uniform. The weather wasn't in his favor, but the offense needed a spark when the running game wasn't working, and he wasn't able to pull through. There was some mess-ups in the offensive line and receiver position (even Hill with key drops in big games), but the University of Alabama product has to overcome it.

From this, it will be another tireless offseason of social media debates if Tagovailoa is the “guy” the Dolphins need to put them over the edge. While truly there isn't an answer as of yet (though some might say there is), the 25-year old quarterback has earned himself another year to prove his worth, especially as besides the big passing numbers this season, he played every game.

That is something to celebrate and hope is consistent for next season. Tagovailoa threw for 4,624 yards (led the league), 29 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.

Mike McDaniel

Another unfortunate trend has been the play-calling in McDaniel, who has had questionable sequences happened in a number of big games. There is a reason his name is with Tagovailoa in terms of not sh0wing up for the big game.

As mentioned before, McDaniel along with general manager Chris Grier has put the team around him to have major success as they have took a huge step forward this season. The offense was outstanding under the former San Francisco 49ers coach, but when it mattered, it didn't show up.

Granted, you are always not going to put up 70 points like they did earlier in the season against playoff-caliber teams, but a fan isn't unfair in expecting a solid outing. While one could point to Tagovailoa being the main problem with the offense, look a little deeper and you will notice the play-calling wasn't helping.

McDaniel continues to abandon the run in games where it is working despite having players like Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane. He continues to call the same plays one after another even if it isn't working, among a bevy of other reason. While he should be credited for creating an explosive offense, there is still aspects to work on.


When it comes to the other two mentioned, the defense is probably less to blame than anybody. While the Chiefs have had their immense struggles this season, they still have the best quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes and are coming off of winning a Super Bowl.

However, the team still has flaws and Miami still couldn't capitalize. One of those flaws is the wide receiver room, but rookie Rashee Rice had eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown Saturday night.

A key strength for the Dolphins is running the ball and let Isiah Pacheco rush for 89 yards and a touchdown. However, is it fair to cut them some slack?

Granted, the team was missing Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Xavien Howard, Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkle, and more. Those are key players on the defensive side that have led them to be a scary unit, but had to be replaced with Bruce Irvin, Justin Houston, and Melvin Ingram, all who are close to their mid-30s.

While they still played mediocre, they did provide some stops for the offense to capitalize and as said before, they did not. You can argue they played complimentary football, but the goal for next season is to stay healthy.

Overall reflection

Listen, it's fair to be angry about another disappointing Dolphins season that ends in about the worst way possible. However, it is also fine to appreciate the success they had this season.

What I would argue is going too far is calling for the heads of McDaniel and Tagovailoa. Everybody has their opinions on the two, but there is no argument that they have provided a jolt to the team and have made them relevant for the first time in possibly two decades.

There will be talks about Tagovailoa's contract and the possibility of giving him an extension. There will be talks about if McDaniel is on the “hot seat.”

At the end of the day, the two deserve another season. However, they will be put under a microscope to see if they can win big games when they matter because right now, they will be known for their inability to be clutch.

Also, stay healthy. That would help too.