MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — For one half of a football game, there were glimpses of hope for the still-winless Miami Dolphins.
In the first half of Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, quarterback Josh Rosen looked sharp, running back Kenyan Drake popped off some nice gains and the defense stuffed running back Austin Ekeler.
Then halftime happened.
In the second half the Dolphins reared their ugly head, leading to their fourth consecutive loss of 20 points or more.
The Dolphins (0-4) accomplished their first lead of the season in the first quarter thanks to a near-perfect Rosen drive in which he went 4-of-4 for 75 yards and had a 34-yard touchdown to DeVante Parker. But that lead lasted just 3:47 of game action.
Rosen continues to provide some offensive hope. The Dolphins’ second-year quarterback had the best half of his NFL career going 12-of-16 for 169 yards, one touchdown, no turnovers and a 126.8 quarterback rating before halftime. At least two drops, including a brutal one from Kalen Ballage on a play that could have been a touchdown, prevented it from going even better. Rosen’s previous high QB rating for a half was 118.2 in the second half of an Arizona Cardinals‘ 20-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4 of the 2018 season.
Rosen led Miami into scoring position on all four of its first half drives, but two missed field goal attempts and that Ballage drop prevented the Dolphins from getting more than 10 points. But a brutal second half spoiled things. The Dolphins have now been outscored 163-26 in their first four games.
Troubling trend: Second-half horrors continue. The Dolphins have been outscored 81-0 in the second half through four games this season. It’s a sign of poor second-half adjustments and an inability by Dolphins’ players to continue early success. Miami had 36 total offensive yards in the second half, a stark contrast to their 197-yard first half total. If Miami hopes to win a game anytime soon, it will have to figure out a way to course correct this trend first.
Key number: 7 — the amount of consecutive losses Miami has suffered dating back to Dec. 9, 2018 — the date of the Miami Miracle win against the New England Patriots. Miami enters its Week 5 bye with many errors to correct, but it will have maybe its best chance to win a game in a home date against a Washington team (0-4) led by rookie Dwayne Haskins.
Buy/sell on a breakout performance: Selling Dolphins’ run defense improvements. The Dolphins were the NFL’s worst run defense entering into Sunday when they bottled up Ekeler and the Chargers for 79 yards on 33 rushes, a 2.4 yards per carry average. A concerted effort to contain the backs led to completely wide open passing lanes for the Chargers.
Silver lining: Taco Charlton had a sack for the second consecutive game, and is now the team’s outright sack leader on the season. Charlton, a 2017 Cowboys first-round pick, was claimed by Miami off waivers after Dallas got rid of him. Charlton immediately looks like the Dolphins’ best edge defender, and could end up being a long-term contributor for a team in desperate need of pass-rushers.