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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Heavy boos rained down from the Miami Dolphins fans still around in a half-empty Hard Rock Stadium late in the fourth quarter Sunday. Coach Adam Gase waved the proverbial white flag — punting on fourth-and-20 with a double-digit deficit — as his offense couldn’t get anything going. The Dolphins never touched the ball again.

In what was could be the last home game for several key Dolphins, it was an ugly way to go out — a 17-7 loss to an underachieving Jacksonville Jaguars team that was playing out the string.

The boos rang throughout the game — an obvious sign of displeasure with an offense that was flat-out hard to watch in every drive except for the first one — and they were loud again when the Dolphins walked off the field with the loss.

The Dolphins (7-8) failed to reach 200 total yards for the third time in four games and the fifth time this season. Injuries have mounted this season, but Sunday’s performance was certainly an indictment on everyone involved — especially on the offensive side of the ball.

After the first drive of the game, the Dolphins were completely ineffective on Sunday against the Jaguars. Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports
“It’s terrible. The offense was awful,” coach Adam Gase said. “It was brutal to watch. To be a part of.”

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who will have many decisions to make regarding change in the coming weeks, couldn’t have been happy with anything he saw on Sunday. Ross walked through the Dolphins’ side locker room door with his head down and exited directly out the adjacent door after the game.

In what has been a roller-coaster season for the Dolphins, Sunday’s loss was revealing. Miami isn’t close to being a legitimate contender, and changes could be coming.

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For much of the game, it felt like a matchup between two of the worst teams in football. Neither team could muster much of anything on offense. The Jaguars (5-10) flip-flopped between Cody Kessler and Blake Bortles, neither of whom are likely in the team’s long-term plans. The Dolphins defense notched a season-high six sacks, yet it didn’t matter.

The biggest story of the day was in a game that still had playoff implications, the Dolphins offense came out and laid an egg. They would have been eliminated anyway because of wins by the Patriots and Colts, but that didn’t make Sunday’s lackluster showing any better.

“They dominated us up front. We got sacked. We couldn’t run the ball. There were no holes. We were getting pushed back,” Gase said. “We just didn’t do a good job. We were bad.”

Hope simmered for weeks in Miami that there was still a playoff chance, but the air left that sail as Ryan Tannehill’s fourth-quarter pick-six essentially ended the game. Tannehill didn’t play well, either. Gase, long a Tannehill supporter, admitted that Sunday.

“Today was a rough day for him. I wish he would have played a little better. I wish he would have made a few more decisions that were different,” Gase said. “I think there’s been games that he’s played really well — and there’s been some games where we haven’t played well. And it’s as much on me as it is on him.”

Tannehill added: “We have to be cleaner, every position, starting with me.”

There will be many questions to answer, many decisions to make, and the next week certainly won’t be pleasant at Dolphins headquarters.

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It’s nowhere near a guarantee, but Lions head coach Jim Caldwell at least sounds mildly positive about getting top pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah back for Week 1.

Ansah (ankle) remains on the team’s physically unable to perform list, but according to practice reports from Tuesday, did jog around in front of reporters.
“I’m not a soothsayer. I’m not a prognosticator,” Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. “… I can’t tell the future. I can’t predict that. But I feel good about it. But anything can happen these days. You just don’t know.”

After the Lions lost Kerry Hyder for the season with a torn ACL a few weeks back, concern regarding their pass rush reached a critical level. Hyder had a team-high eight sacks a year ago, 3.5 more than Devin Taylor, who now plays for the New York Giants. Their search for a productive pass rusher may have to intensify during cut-down day when each team trims their roster from 90 down to 53. A few able bodied veterans could be on the chopping block and ripe for the picking.

The Lions have survived without a fearsome pass rush. Last year’s near-miracle playoff season featured just two sacks over 13 games from Ansah. Detroit was tied for second to last in sacks with the Cleveland Browns (26) and allowed the highest passer rating in football (106.5) over 16 games.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been tasked with remaking the identity of this pass rush post-Ndamukong Suh — a nearly impossible task for a defense that operated a certain way for so long. Developing Ansah was his best hope, and while that has not gone according to plan at times, having him on the field for a contract year certainly can’t hurt.