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 QB Ryan Tannehill on track to be back Sunday?
It’s an encouraging Monday in South Florida, as it relates to the injury rehab for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Now, the real question is: will we see the veteran back on the field Sunday against Indianapolis?
Coach Adam Gase met with the media Monday with the Dolphins coming off their bye week, and shared encouragement that Tannehill looks on track to be able to play soon. In fact, he’s back throwing a football for the first time since being shut down the week after the loss to the Bengals:
Dolphins Live: Coach Gase meets with the media. https://t.co/WJdtPu7WcS
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 19, 2018
In that game in October, Tannehill took a couple of significant hits in the fourth quarter meltdown and suffered what was eventually revealed to be an injury to the shoulder capsule. He did try to practice on the following Wednesday, and apparently the throws got worse and more painful, as the workout went along.
Tannehill ended up not taking any of the throwing reps in the Thursday or Friday practices, the Dolphins ended up hiding that point and were eventually fined by the NFL for listing him as “questionable,” when they knew he was not going to be able to play in the game with the Bears.
Veteran backup Brock Osweiler quarterbacked the team to the dramatic overtime win over Chicago that weekend, but there’s been little success since. In fact as Miami dropped two of their last three games, they had a nine quarter stretch without scoring an offensive touchdown.
Still, at 5 – 5, the Dolphins are on the verge of the AFC playoff picture and Gase has a decision to make about how soon he brings Tannehill back, as opposed to going with a healthier Osweiler at least for this week at the Colts.
Tannehill helped the Dolphins get off to a 3 – 0 start to the season, but that was with a more talented and healthy receiving corps than what they currently have. Free agent acquisition Albert Wilson has been put on injured reserve with a hip injury and the Dolphins, will also put Jakeem Grant on injured reserve with an Achilles injury suffered in their loss to the Packers eight days ago.
Veteran deep threat Kenny Stills has been bothered by a groin injury, but the hopes are that the extra week of rest with the bar I will help him for the stretch run of the season. Also, former number 1 pick DeVante Parker, who has seen his role increase with all of the injuries, had his left arm in a sling after the Packer game and his status is not known.
Back to Tannehill, as you probably know, he missed all of 2017 after ACL surgery and now, with having missed another five games to this point, there are question marks about his long-term future with the Fins?
So Gase has to weigh all of that in the decision-making of when to bring Tannehill back in a season that could still be salvaged down the stretch
Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay
Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.
It just looks and feels that way.
Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.
Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.
Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.
The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.
Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.
Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.
It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.
Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.
The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year they got off to a 3 – 0 start.
So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.
Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.
No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.
Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field
Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)
When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
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