The Miami Dolphins have had four consecutive games where a quarterback was hurt, three straight where a different starter can’t finish.
They’ve had multiple cornerbacks miss time — with cornerback Nik Needham’s season coming to an end with a torn Achilles on Sunday, according to a league source — two starting tackles out and a bevy of other injuries.
And the Dolphins, with Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, dropped their third in a row in the midst of all the health concerns.
But one thing coach Mike McDaniel doesn’t want is to imply causation out of that correlation.
“I’m going to demand that the team does not point at that to be the reason for what’s happened or a reason for the loss,” McDaniel said. “I think that’s the easy thing to do. I think that’s the path of least resistance, and generally, the path of least resistance, doesn’t lend to results that ambitious, convicted, all-in players, team, organization want.
“You can look at it as difficult. You can look at it as a reason for X, Y or Z. I challenge the guys not to. We have a lot of faith in all the guys we have on this team. … There’s always difficulties and adversity within NFL football games. I thought we had the capability to overcome that, and we didn’t.”
On Sunday, the Dolphins lost quarterback Skylar Thompson to a thumb injury on his throwing hand. As the team’s third-stringer, he was starting because both quarterbacks ahead of him, Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater, were in concussion protocol until Saturday, unable to practice fully throughout the week.
Last week at the New York Jets, it was Bridgewater ruled out due to concussion protocol because a spotter witnessed an alleged stumble after his first offensive play. Bridgewater was playing because Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in Miami’s Sept. 29 loss at Cincinnati.
“Of course, it’s not ideal,” McDaniel said. “You want the guys that get all the reps during the week to play. You always know that’s a possibility.”
Needham had a cart come onto the field to take him off and was quickly ruled out after his second-quarter Achilles injury.
“I know Nik was in pain,” said McDaniel, who at the time did not yet know if it was his Achilles or high ankle. “It felt real.”
Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead was ruled out pregame after entering Sunday questionable. Armstead, who has averaged more than five games missed over the past six seasons, was inactive for the first time since signing with the Dolphins in the offseason due to a toe injury that has lingered since the opener against the New England Patriots.
Mostly playing through the ailment, he made an early exit in last week at the New York Jets after eight offensive plays. He didn’t travel back with the team on Oct. 9 to see a foot specialist in the New York/New Jersey area before returning to South Florida.
The Dolphins also didn’t have right tackle Austin Jackson, who missed a fifth consecutive game on injured reserve with his ankle injury. Without Armstead or Jackson at New York, Miami used Greg Little at right tackle and Brandon Shell, a practice-squad elevation for a second straight game, at left tackle, but on Sunday, they were flipped with Shell at right tackle and Little at left tackle. Most of Little’s career experience is at left tackle, and Shell, before last Sunday at MetLife Stadium, had exclusively played right tackle in his career.
Tight end Durham Smythe (hamstring) was out Sunday, but running back Raheem Mostert, who also entered questionable with a knee injury, was available and receiving a bulk of Miami carries, finishing with 49 yards on 14 rushing attempts.
With Needham going down in-game, fellow cornerback Kader Kohou, who entered doubtful with an oblique ailment, was inactive. While Miami was minus Kohou, the undrafted rookie that has seen significant playing time and three starts thus far, it got All-Pro Xavien Howard back after he missed the loss to the Jets. This all comes with Byron Jones still on the physically-unable-to-perform list for lower left leg surgery in the offseason.
Another cornerback, Keion Crossen, left the game against the Vikings late in the first half with a knee injury.
“That definitely needs more information before I’m comfortable speaking on that,” McDaniel said.
Like Crossen, edge defender Trey Flowers (foot) was ruled out at halftime.
Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah had a back injury in the first half but returned in the second half. Star receiver Jaylen Waddle sustained an apparent shoulder injury late in Sunday’s loss, but he returned for the final offensive plays.
“It’s one of those things that I’ve learned about Jaylen, that if there’s a will, there’s a way,” McDaniel said. “He’s a tough kid, a real tough kid. He really didn’t give anyone an option, whether or not to be in there at the end.”