Miami’s Joe Philbin stays put with slumping offense
Even though the Dolphins offense has continued to struggle of late, coach Joe Philbin said he plans no changes.
10/08/2013 12:01 AM
09/08/2014 6:53 PM
The Dolphins offense has regressed, and there’s plenty of data to prove it.
Through five weeks, the team ranks last league-wide in sacks allowed, last in sacks per pass play, 29th in first downs and 28th in both total yards and rushing yards per game.
But instead of using the bye week as a reset button, coach Joe Philbin’s plan appears to be stay the course.
Philbin said Monday that there would be no changes to his coaching staff during the bye week, and inferred the same about his much-maligned offensive line, which is off to a historically bad start.
“We believe in the guys that we have,” Philbin said. “We have confidence in them. We have got to continue to strive at all positions. I know everyone wants to focus on one position. There are a lot of positions on this football team that need improvement.
“We believe in the guys that we have, and we will continue to work with them,” he added.
Meaning: Tyson Clabo will likely remain the team’s starting right tackle, despite surrendering six sacks so far this season.
But it’s not like the Dolphins don’t have options.
There’s a feeling by some around the league — and even within the Dolphins’ headquarters — that Nate Garner is a better option than either Clabo or John Jerry, the right guard who has struggled in both pass protection and run blocking.
Garner started the last four games of the 2012 season after Jake Long got hurt and performed far better than both Clabo and Jerry have thus far.
Garner surrendered two sacks all last year. Clabo gave up two in Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
And yet, the Dolphins appear content to stick with the group that has allowed 24 sacks through five games — the most in football.Miami is on pace to give up 77 on the season, which would make Ryan Tannehill the most-sacked quarterback in NFL history.
The current record is held by David Carr, who was sacked 76 times during the Texans’ expansion season. Carr was the No. 1 pick in 2002 but never fulfilled the promise, with the sacks seen as derailing his career.
Could the same happen to Tannehill? Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said no.
“The guy is as resilient a person, a competitor as I’ve been around,” Sherman said Monday. “I’ve been around some pretty good ones, and he’s up there. He’s very resilient.”
Tannehill’s problems Sunday went beyond getting hit. His receivers did him no favors either.
Of Tannehill’s 19 incompletions, five were due to drops, according to Pro Football Focus. Dolphins receivers have dropped 17 passes through three games; Mike Wallace is tied for the league lead with six.
“Anything involving me is my fault, because I could do better,” said Wallace, who is fourth on the team in both catches (22) and receiving yards (281).
“I could do better at catching the ball, running routes, anything. I can improve.”
And even aspects of the Dolphins offense believed to be a strength — red-zone efficiency and third-down conversions — took a step back Sunday.
Miami failed to score a touchdown on two of its three trips inside Baltimore’s 20 and converted on just 3 of 16 third downs.
“We should have scored more points in the red zone and we didn’t,” Sherman said.
Yet with all that said, the Dolphins enter the break at 3-2, would be a playoff team if the season ended today and have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the AFC.
“I have faith in the guys that we have in the locker room,” Philbin said. “I have faith in the staff that we have. We can’t sweep things under the rug; we know we’re not playing perfect football. We have to do better, there’s no doubt about it.
“If we stick together and work at it, we’ll correct the mistakes and be a better football team after the bye,” he added.
The Dolphins are a mash unit on defense, playing without four starters for a stretch Sunday (Cameron Wake, Dannell Ellerbe, Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll).
But coordinator Kevin Coyle told his group Monday that the bye should help heal most of those wounds.
“We’ll be the healthiest we’ve been since the opener,” Coyle said.
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