Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor on Monday pointed to one ugly statistic to sum up the state of the Dolphins offense through two weeks of the season:
Miami is last in the league in passing yards per attempt, at 4.7, factoring in sacks.
That’s largely a byproduct of Ryan Tannehill’s struggles with ball placement and accuracy, but also a reflection of the offensive line not giving him enough time to throw, several dropped balls and Dolphins receivers not running their routes correctly at times, according to coaches.
“There is no doubt the blame rests 100 percent on me,” Lazor said. “[To be] last in the league in yards-per-attempt, which I think is a pretty good indicator in the passing game of how you are doing, rests on the coordinator and getting everybody to do it the right way.”
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But Lazor also added this about Tannehill’s problems with ball placement: “There’s no doubt Ryan would tell you it needs to improve.”
Lazor said ball placement is “what separates the great ones and the good ones from the barely good ones.”
The Dolphins, who rank 21st overall in total offense, must fix their recurring issues without two starters: leading rusher Knowshon Moreno and starting right guard Shelley Smith.
Moreno is expected to miss four to eight weeks with a dislocated elbow. Smith sustained a grade two knee sprain Sunday and is expected to miss two to four weeks.
Daniel Thomas, released by the Dolphins in preseason, was signed Monday to give the Dolphins depth in Moreno’s absence.
Moreno, who led the league in rushing through one week, will be sorely missed primarily because “he’s a productive player” but also, Lazor said, because “anyone who watches the game can see what emotion Knowshon plays with. He brings something to our team and I bet guys even on the defense and special teams would tell you that.”
As for the passing game, Lazor commended Mike Wallace’s work — “Mike has backed it up with his play” — but made it clear that improvement is needed elsewhere.
“You can count the number of throws you think are errant, you can count the number of drops, you can count the protection issues when there is pressure on the quarterback,” Lazor said. “They are all true, but when it’s all of that together, that’s on the coordinator. I am very disappointed by the job I’ve done in the passing game, but I’m very encouraged about where we’re headed.”
Tannehill’s disappointing performance Sunday (73.6 rating) came three days after a practice in which he threw the ball better than Lazor said he has ever seen him throw.
“Our passing game is not at the level it needs to be,” coach Joe Philbin said. “The film says that we’re not detailed enough in any one area.”
Philbin pointed to players making mistakes in the depth and angle of routes.
Also, “there were times where the location of the ball wasn’t what it needs to be,” Philbin said. “There were times when the protection forced the quarterback off of some open receivers and into other options. It’s not one player that is really causing all of the problems with the passing game.”
Through two weeks, Tannehill’s passer rating ranks 29th in the league at 76.1, and his fourth-quarter and third-down ratings rank among the bottom three in the AFC.
Asked if Tannehill’s confidence has been damaged, Lazor said: “That’s up to Ryan. These are big guys here. These are grownups. … I do believe that confidence is a part in how they play. I also believe that they better learn how to get their own confidence going.”
Philbin was so discouraged by his offense Sunday that he called six consecutive running plays when the Dolphins took possession at their own 12, with 2:21 left in the first half, and all three timeouts.
“At that point, we had 45 yards of offense and three sacks in the first half,” Philbin said. “The last thing I wanted to do is go into halftime down 16-0. So I told Bill, I want to run the ball every single play and I want to get to the locker room and make some adjustments, and I want to get it to a one-possession game, which is exactly what we did twice in the third quarter. That was the reason I did it and I think it was the right thing to do.”
Philbin said the pass protection “has to be better. I thought our tackles overall in pass protection held up well, but the interior in the protection wasn’t as good and has to be better.”
Dallas Thomas figures to replace the injured Smith at right guard.
Thomas played half the game Sunday and “did a good job,” Philbin said.