When you gain 56 yards of offense, three first downs and the offense produces three points in a half, there’s generally a lot of finger-pointing going on.
Those were the numbers that the Dolphins put up in the first half on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. And while there wasn’t a lot of open finger-pointing going on, the Dolphins knew where the problem rested — with the offensive line.
The five men up front knew it as well.
“We just came out too flat the first half and couldn’t start fast like we had planned to do,” guard Mike Pouncey said. “When we don’t play well in the first half, we have these types of games, and we can’t afford to have that take place down the road.
“We knew their front seven was the strength of their team. Their front seven did a great job [Sunday]; they stopped us the whole game. We played better in the second half, but it’s got to be better than that.”
No one questioned that the offense was stagnant for the first 30 minutes. The Dolphins’ first three possessions produced the same result — three plays and a punt. Those first nine plays from scrimmage produced a total of 4 yards.
It wasn’t until their fourth possession that the Dolphins saw the chains move for the first time. A 4-yard end-around run by Jarvis Landry was followed by a Ryan Tannehill scamper around the opposite side for 9 yards and the initial first down of the half, coming with just under four minutes left in the first half.
Tannehill probably summed it up best.
“Offensively, we didn’t perform up to our standards in any phase of the game,” the Dolphins quarterback said. “Defense played well, defense made plays. Sometimes that’s how it works out. I’m not happy about how we played offensively; it has to be better. We have to get this corrected.
“Early on, we weren’t playing well. We got ourselves in long-play situations through sacks; we can’t have that happen. We can’t depend on the defense to make the big plays and score points; that’s our job, that’s what we get paid to do.”
The offense did its job in the second half. It ran and passed for 270 yards, and while that unit only put 10 points on the board, it controlled the ball for more than 19 minutes, including all but 31/2 minutes of the fourth quarter.
That made coach Joe Philbin feel a little better, though it was obvious with his demeanor and words afterward that he was less than pleased with the overall effort put forth by the offense.
“I thought our guys hung tough. Let’s face it, it wasn’t overly pretty, especially on offense,” Philbin said. “It was a little bit of a struggle. I’m not going to say it wasn’t; but at the end of the day, our defense gave up one touchdown and offensively we made a couple of plays in the second half. We have to do better without a doubt.”
The offensive line was operating at less than full strength. Starting guard Daryn Colledge was forced to leave the game because of migraines. Backup lineman Nate Garner was injured on his first and only play of the game and did not return after sustaining a stinger. Dallas Thomas came in to finish the game.
Tackle Branden Albert was among the starting five who said their play in the first half was less than adequate, but that things got better in the final 30 minutes.
“Our technique wasn’t good along the line; everybody had their issues,” Albert said. “But in the second half, guys buckled down, they got energetic and started playing a lot better. The slow starts, it’s not just one thing. It’s a play here by somebody, then another play by someone else. We’ve just got to come together and play as a group.”