By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - There was little sign of protest as the Miami Dolphins fell to their sixth straight home defeat on Sunday - apathy rather than anger is the mood among Florida fans and that should worry team owner Stephen Ross.
Ross and sponsors bought tickets for the Week 2 game with the Houston Texans to ensure the game avoided the National Football League's (NFL) television blackout rules.
While the move ensured the game was shown live, there were still over 20,000 empty seats in the stadium even though season ticket holders were offered free tickets for family and friends.
The ownership's attempt to turn their stadium into an extension of South Beach - with a replica nightclub behind one end zone and an 'orange carpet' for celebrity arrivals - has merely added to the air of desperation.
Fans, who have seen playoff action just once since 2001, have stuck with the team throughout the past decade of decline where they have made a series of misjudgments in the draft, most glaringly in 2008 when they passed on quarterback Matt Ryan, now a hit with the Atlanta Falcons.
A run of 11 losses in the past 12 home games have taken their toll and even those loyal followers who sweated in the sun showed little fervor for a team that has made a 0-2 start for the fifth time in six years.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, one of the few Dolphins to excite the supporters with his quality, was frank about the sense of failure after Sunday's loss.
"It stinks because our fans were trying to get things going here in this community and get that spirit back up in our stadium. You have to win at home to do that," said Marshall.
"Every day I run into fans telling me they have been season-ticket holders since 1972, thirty-something years. You want to play for those people and it's frustrating when you come up short. It's embarrassing, really."
After starting the season with a dreadful defensive display in a 38-24 home loss to the New England Patriots last week and following that with Sunday's 23-13 defeat, Miami now face three road games -- perhaps a blessing in disguise.
Miami's problems on the field are many - their defense was woeful against the Patriots while on Sunday, the offense failed to capitalize in the red zone while the normally reliable field goal kicker Dan Carpenter failed twice.
Linebacker Jason Taylor, in his third spell with the club, believes the responsibility lies with the players.
"It's not coaching, it's not ownership, it's not the fans. It's the players in this room that are doing dumb things and kind of getting in our own way and until we stop doing that, we're going to be sitting here with long faces and trying to figure this thing out," said Taylor.
Taylor hinted that not everyone in the locker-room is aware of what is required.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)