Through all the Dolphins offensive struggles this year, coach Adam Gase has remained steadfast in his support of quarterback Jay Cutler, laying most of the blame for his team’s lack of consistency and scoring on the play of the offensive linemen and wide receivers.
Linemen blocking the wrong guys and would-be pass catchers running the wrong routes were at the root of the problem early, said Gase, whose team has shown signs the last couple games of finally breaking out of its slump, albeit at the rate a baby chick breaks out of its egg.
That doesn’t mean the problems have all disappeared.
Though Gase was quick to acknowledge that the play of his offensive line and in particular that of left tackle Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Ja’Wuan James improved markedly last week, there are still some issues with his pass catchers that need to be addressed.
The biggest is simply catching the ball. By Gase’s count, Dolphins receivers have dropped 10 passes the last two weeks, including five in the Dolphins 16-10 victory over the Titans two weeks ago and five more in their 20-17 victory over the Falcons last Sunday.
Both of those were more or less comeback victories, the Dolphins bouncing back after blowing a 10-0 lead to beat the Titans and rallying from 17 points down to beat the Falcons, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a few more caught passes might have erased the need for the rally.
“Yeah, I don’t know (what the problem is), we just haven’t caught them,’’ Gase said. “And that’s an area that we’re really stressing and need to improve on, obviously, because right now, I think we’re dead last in the league with catchable passes.’’
Not quite. The Dolphins rank 30th in the league in the percentage of catchable balls that have been dropped, allowing 20-percent to fall to the ground. No matter the ranking, the issue has clearly slowed the Dolphins attack, Gase said.
“I don’t know if they could be touchdowns, but right now, it’s all about first downs and putting ourselves in manageable positons,’’ Gase said. “I mean, I think we’ve got like 15 first downs of missed opportunities on the season. That hurts you. That’s time off the clock.
“That’s another chance to score, another chance to get in the red zone. And with us, if our defense is fresh and they’re out there and they’re able to play the way they’re playing and we keep them out of that 65-plus play range per game, that’s a good thing for us.’’
Dropped passes aren’t a good thing, especially for an offense that is averaging just 12.2 points per game. That is last in the league. There’s no debating that. But Cutler believes the problem is a temporary one that will soon be eliminated.
“I think we’ve got guys with really good hands that can make plays for us,’’ Cutler said. “Whether it’s lack of concentration or me putting the ball in a little bit different place for them, it’ll come. We’ll clean that stuff up along the way. If dropped passes are our biggest concern, I feel pretty good about that.’’
Dolphins got contributions everywhere in Sunday win
There were a lot of questions and plenty of reasons to doubt the Dolphins roster makeup, as 2018 was getting underway.
However, two games in, the Fins have been impressive, and earned their way to an unbeaten start. Their latest effort Sunday at The Meadowlands against AFC East rival Jets saw numerous players new and old step up.
Whether it was TJ McDonald’s early interception of New York rookie QB Sam Darnold, or Kenyan Drake weaving through the Jets front seven for the early score a short time later, Miami set the tone.
And then, when Kiko Alonso knocked the ball free from Jets receiver Robby Anderson and Raekwon McMillan recovered it, it was new free agent receiver Albert Wilson capitalizing here:
Can't catch @iThinkIsee12
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 16, 2018
It went for a 29-yard touchdown from QB Ryan Tannehill and Miami had command at that point at 14-0.
Tannehill spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and even found reserve A.J. Derby for a 19 yard touchdown, as the lead ballooned to 20-0 nothing.
Darnold ended with some decent yardage and a couple of second-half touchdowns, but the Dolphins registered four sacks and had three total takeaways to help put this one away.
Even ageless veteran Frank Gore got into the act. This as, the 35 year old moved into fourth place on NFL all-time rushing list trailing only Hall of Famers Barry Sanders Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
And late in the game caught a dump off pass from Tannehill and weaved through the Jet defense to pick up 3rd and 19, move the chains and allow Miami to run the clock out.
So the 2018 Dolphins don’t have Jay Cutler, Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and some of the others from a team that struggled last year.
However, their new faces stepped in and stepped up Sunday on the road.
And Miami is now 2 – 0 for the first time since 2013, and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Gameday- Dolphins renew rivalry with Jets in New York
Who: Dolphins (1-0) at Jets (1-0)
Where: Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Spread: Jets by 2.5 (Courtesy Vegasinsidercom)
Renewal of the Rivalry
There are no longer names like Shula, Namath and Marino, but the storied rivalry of the Dolphins and the Jets is five decades old. As AFC East Rivals since the early 1970’s, these teams and fan bases are familiar with each other for generations. Yes, grandads, dads and in some cases, great granddads have watched these two play. The Jets hold a 54-50-1 record all time, and that includes a decisive win in the Meadowlands last year. The Fins, however, won the rematch (Cutler at the helm) later in the year at Hard Rock Stadium.
Now, they play right away in 2018 and the winner maintains at least a tie for first in the division.
Tannehill looks to build on week one
It was a bizarre game last Sunday in the opener with Tennessee, as there were two lightning delays that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours. So, it’s tough to judge everything completely. However, QB Ryan Tannehill, off his ACL tear last August, was effective for a lot of the game (despite two picks) finishing 20-28 for 230 yards and two TDs. One was a second half 75 yard bomb to WR Kenny Stills as the Dolphins prevailed 27-20.
Will the Jets 3-4 defense be able to rattle him? Will Tannehill handle the pressure and be accurate. It’s not the only key, but a big one for the Fins.
Finally, will the Jets look like they did Monday night?
In a remarkable win on the road on Monday night, rookie Sam Darnold overcame a pick six TD in the first :20 of his NFL career to play effectively in the blowout win over the Lions. Darnold who was 16-21 with two TDs, will have to be solid in this one for the Jets.
The Dolphins pass rush led by Robert Quinn and Cam Wake will try to fluster him and create those bad throws from the USC rookie.
The Jets defense and special teams came up with big plays also against Detroit, as they pulled away in the second half for a 48-17 win. That included an interception and punt return TD in the second half.
Miami will need to keep the Jets from making the big play Sunday.
Report- Dolphins OL Josh Sitton out for season
The injury news is not good to wake up to on a Friday morning for Dolphins fans. Offensive lineman Josh Sitton will miss the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, according to a report.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald had the story first that Sitton, who missed practice this week with a shoulder injury, is going on injured reserve:
EXCLUSIVE…Key Miami Dolphins starter is out for the remainder of the season. What it meanshttps://t.co/Zox57wnlHP
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 14, 2018
Salguero wrote, that Sitton actually tore his rotator cuff at some point during the playing of the second half of Sunday’s game with Tennessee. Yet, the 11 year veteran continued to play through it. Further, Sitton had been exploring the option of continuing to play with the injury in the short term this week, etc. However, he was advised that if the shoulder was damaged more, that surgery might not be able to repair it and it would end his career.
Sitton is a four-time Pro Bowler who was originally drafted by Green Bay, but was signed by the Dolphins away from the Chicago Bears this past offseason. He was playing in the offense of then Bears, now Dolphins coordinator Dowell Loggains. And it made him attractive to sign by Miami in March.
Loggains told the media Thursday that Sitton’s injury and possible absence for this week’s game against the Jets creates a problem,
“Does it change things? Absolutely. If you didn’t have someone at any position, you look to (say), ‘How is this matchup going to affect us in the game?’”
Sitton, who had started 137 games in his career coming into this season, had also been a mentor to former #1 pick left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Miami will now go to veteran journeyman guard Ted Larsen, who started eight games over the last couple of seasons for the Dolphins ,but has also battled nagging injuries throughout his career.
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