Something is seriously wrong with the Dolphins’ secondary.
Or to put it another way: Their corners need to get better or this season will soon be lost.
Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard matched up with Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins.
The ugly result:
Fuller and Hopkins combined for 11 catches, 206 yards and three touchdowns in the Texans’ 42-23 throttling of the Dolphins here Thursday.
Howard wasn’t great. McCain was worse. And he took it personally.
“I got my ass kicked,” McCain said, when asked what happened Thursday. “You saw the game.”
McCain mostly covered Fuller, and did a poor job of it. Five of the six passes thrown to Fuller went for catches, including a 73-yard touchdown catch-and-run that McCain could only chase in vain. Fuller finished the night with 124 receiving yards.
“Very disappointing,” McCain said. “Disappointed in our performance. I didn’t play well today, we didn’t play well today. We have a couple of days off to get our minds right.”
One topic McCain did not want to entertain: His health. He has not been the same player since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the games against the Bengals and Bears.
McCain insisted he is not playing hurt, but his drop-off in performance suggests otherwise.
Not reflected in Fuller’s stats: When McCain somehow even committed two penalties on the same deep pass. First he held Fuller, and then he committed pass interference inside the 10.
Fuller got hurt on the play; word later emerged that he likely tore his ACL. If so, his last snap of 2018 set up Deshaun Watson’s fifth and final touchdown pass, which went to Hopkins. On the evening, Hopkins went for 82 yards on six catches. And most of them came against the Howard.
“I’m hot right now,” Howard said. “We’ve got to get back in the lab and stick to the basics. Get back to it.”
The biggest issue seems to be with assignment and communication on the back end. On Fuller’s long touchdown catch, McCain motioned as if Reshad Jones would provide help over the top.
“It’s not the back end,” Howard said. “It’s the whole defense. You just can’t blame it on one, the secondary. The whole defense, we play together. We’ve all got to get the call and execute.”