The playoffs are essentially out of the question. But if nothing else, the Dolphins’ final three games should offer some level of clarity, or at the very least, more evidence to use on critical decisions:
Playing against elite 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, Martin allowed one sack and four hurries, and Pro Football Focus graded him at a minus-5.2 — his worst of the season. Only two of Long’s games this season were graded lower than Martin’s first 1 3/4 games at left tackle.
“I thought he did a good job,” coach Joe Philbin said. “I like the way he played.”
If Long is willing to accept a contract below his agent’s expectations, a deal could be reached. But Long’s bargaining position will be helped if Martin relinquishes several sacks over the final three games.
Left guard Richie Incognito, due $4 million next season, appears more likely to stick than not. This season, Miami has had its most success running behind him and Mike Pouncey.
In the past two weeks, Bush has 29 carries for 129 yards (4.4-yard average). Thomas has seven for 13. Miller got his first carries in a month on Sunday and had just 1 yard on three attempts, but caught a pass for an 8-yard gain and a first down.
“I thought Lamar did a decent job,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. “He did a great job on the screen. He needs to play in the games more. He knew what he was doing. He was aggressive.”
The playing time discrepancy between Bush and the other backs was the biggest in a while Sunday. Bush played 44 snaps, Thomas 13 and Miller nine. Bush lined up at receiver on several of those.
Odrick, who has only four sacks, usually moves to tackle in passing situations, but defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said “we have him in the right spot” playing defensive end primarily. “I still think he can play a lot better,” Coyle said.
Nolan Carroll (rated 79th among 110 corners) and Richard Marshall appear better suited as third corners, making it likely Miami drafts a cornerback or signs one. If Smith leaves, the Dolphins likely would need to find two starters.
With starter Anthony Fasano an impending free agent, it would help to see third-round pick Michael Egnew in a game to know if he can be the stretch-the-field tight end that this offense so desperately craves. Philbin suggested Monday he feels no need to do that, and Sherman said: “That’s a question Coach Philbin and Jeff Ireland have to answer. … Maybe that’s something we have to look at.”
Egnew, inactive every game, “has made progress, but he hasn’t 100 percent shown that consistency in practice,” Sherman said. “He shows signs of greatness every once in awhile, but we want to see it a little more often.”