The Miami Dolphins are running out of excuses. They are also running out of time if they want to save their season. One problem: They seem to have fallen victim to Murphy's law. Everything that can go wrong has.
Some might say that a four-game losing streak undid a lot of positive momentum for the Dolphins. Others, however, might say that a three-game winning streak was simply interwoven into a dumpster fire season for the Dolphins.
All the incidents are tertiary, but the reality is if the Dolphins don't start winning games, people will start losing jobs.
That process has already begun on the offensive line, which has allowed 32 sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill this season. It got so bad, at one point, that the Dolphins traded for starter-turned-benchwarmer Bryant McKinnie, left tackle from the Baltimore Ravens, a team that had just traded for Jaguars tackle Eugene Monroe.
Trading for McKinnie was an uncharacteristic desperation move by Joe Philbin and the Dolphins, sending right tackle Tyson Clabo to the bench and right tackle-turned-left tackle Jonathan Martin back to right tackle. Martin was vocally displeased with the move, but promised to do what ever he could to help the team win.
"You can approach this two different ways," he said, according to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel. "You can go in the tank and be one of those guys who (complains) and moans and is a cancer in the locker room. Or you can be a guy who goes out there and can be a professional, play as hard as I can. My mindset is that I'm still going to try better and do whatever I can do help the team win."
Martin is now AWOL after an incident in the team cafeteria, according to the report from Kelly.
Things have not gone well even dating back to the preseason, with free-agent acquisition Dustin Keller suffering a season-ending knee injury in the early part of the preseason.
Even while the Dolphins were winning, there was dissension among the team. Defensive tackle Randy Starks delivered an obscene gesture at the Dolphins sideline after a sack, indicating his displeasure with being removed from the starting lineup. Wide receiver Mike Wallace complained after the win when he did not get the ball enough for his liking.
As it turns out, those were just symptoms of a much bigger issue.
The "source-ry" has now begun, with multiple reports that players are upset with the game plan.
The Dolphins have run the ball 36 times for 183 yards in the first half of their past two games, but just 20 times for 93 yards in the second half.
"I think we should just keep running the football 30, 40 times a game," said Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. "That's our blueprint for success. We have to run the football for four quarters."
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"We have to do a better job executing, but they need to do a better job coaching, putting us in positions to be successful," said one unnamed player, according to Omar Kelly.
The problems, apparently, go beyond the coaching staff.
Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported that teammates have begun "harboring resentment toward other teammates," and another source said the Dolphins have been in a state of "shambles" over the past few days.
That being said, a win against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football would right a lot of wrongs with the Dolphins. It would bring them back to .500, snap the four-game losing skid and end the discussion that the team is a wreck.
Just look at the Patriots, for example. The first eight weeks of the season have been one firestorm after another, with catastrophic season-ending injuries to key players, the circus around tight end Aaron Hernandez, media reports of ill will toward then-injured tight end Rob Gronkowski and a dysfunctional offense.
They've managed to go 6-2 despite the chaos, and all is forgiven.
The Dolphins could be overcoming all of this if they find ways to win. Thanks to a stubborn coaching staff that has been slow to adjust to its opponents adjusting, the Dolphins have only just now decided to commit to the running game.
While noble and wise, it may be too little too late.
At this point, it looks like the coaching staff might be close to losing the locker room, but the off-field issues only add an exclamation mark to the on-field train wreck the Dolphins have become in losing four straight.
After giving the roster a $284 million face-lift this offseason, no one's job is safe if the Dolphins fail to turn things around before the 2013 season reaches a (dumpster) fiery end.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or via team news releases.