Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Dolphins playing for pride ... and jobs
When the Miami Dolphins visit the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, a spot in the playoffs won't be at stake.
The Dolphins (7-8) and Bills (5-10) have already been eliminated even though they started the season with legitimate optimism.
Buffalo was coming off its first playoff season since 1999, and Miami was getting its quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, back from a season lost to injury in 2017.
But the Dolphins were hit hard by injuries again this season - 13 players landed on injured reserve, helping to crush a 3-0 start.
"I wish everybody hadn't gotten hurt," Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said when asked about his regrets for the season. "That would've been nice.
"There's a reason why we started 3-0 when all of our guys were there. Then we started losing guys ... "
With a win, the Dolphins would at least avoid a second straight losing season. That's the goal.
"Like Coach (Gase) said, '8-8 sounds better than 7-9,'" Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said. "We just want to finish strong."
But beyond that potential team achievement, the entire roster is playing to enhance their stock.
Tannehill, for example, will want to show he is worth his bloated $26.6 million cap hit. Whether he returns or is let go will be Miami's biggest offseason decision.
Safety Reshad Jones, with a $17.2 million cap hit, could be another salary-cap casualty as the Dolphins have T.J. McDonald and Minkah Fitzpatrick to plug in at the two safety spots.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker ($9.4 million) almost certainly won't be back, meaning that Sunday against the Bills will be one final audition for the former first-round pick.
Because of their age, running back Frank Gore, 35, and defensive end Cameron Wake, 36, are in precarious positions.
Defensive end Robert Quinn ($12.9 millon hit) and wide receiver Kenny Stills (($9.8 million hit) have been solid but would love to have big performances on Sunday because they carry big price tags.
"Every year brings changes," Wake said. "There will be changes this year just like the year we made the playoffs. I'm sure the (undefeated) '72 Dolphins made changes."
SERIES HISTORY: 106th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 60-44-1. The host Dolphins won the most recent game, on Dec. 2, beating the Bills 21-17. Buffalo had a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown with 65 seconds left, but Josh Allen's pass to an open Charles Clay in the end zone was a bit short and fell out of the tight end's hands, incomplete.