Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins’ defensive linemen eager to end sack drought

Miami Dolphins defensive linemen Earl Mitchell (90) and Ndamukong Suh (93) have zero sacks so far, and Mitchell missed practice Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 with a back injury.
Miami Dolphins defensive linemen Earl Mitchell (90) and Ndamukong Suh (93) have zero sacks so far, and Mitchell missed practice Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 with a back injury. AP

What has happened to the Dolphins’ pass rush?

Miami’s four highest-paid defensive linemen combine to take up roughly a sixth of the team’s salary cap.

But through two weeks, the organization has gotten little bang for its buck.

Between them, Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Earl Mitchell, Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby have zero sacks in eight quarters.

The team’s only sack in 2015 came courtesy of rookie Jordan Phillips on the first drive of the season. The Dolphins’ opponents have gone 61 straight pass attempts without being sacked.

Remarkably, the Dolphins have not been able to generate a pass rush despite blitzing on 35 percent of their opponents’ drop-backs, according to Pro Football Focus. By coach Joe Philbin’s math, the Dolphins’ blitz percentage is closer to 28 to 30 percent.

Either way, it’s not from lack of trying. So it’s fair to say they’re due, right?

“I thought we were due in April,” Wake said.

“You can’t satisfy me when it comes to production on the quarterback,” he added. “That’s one of the biggest stats you can get. Making a quarterback uncomfortable is something you want to make sure is true. I’ll never be satisfied, whether we have 60 sacks. It’s still not enough.”

The job might have gotten a little tougher Thursday. Mitchell missed practice with a back injury; though it’s unclear how he got hurt, it presumably happened this week. Mitchell wasn’t on the team’s injury report Wednesday.

Pressed to explain the paucity of sacks, Philbin responded:

“Sometimes we have to win our matchups better in the rush, No. 1. No. 2, some of the teams have gotten the ball out relatively quickly, sometimes the quarterback has bought a little extra time. It’s a variety of things.”

Philbin added: “Certainly, we want to win more of our one-on-one matchups.”

MILLER, CAMERON IMPROVE

The injury news was better for Lamar Miller (ankle) and Jordan Cameron (groin).

The Dolphins’ starting running back and tight end practiced in a limited capacity Thursday after missing Wednesday.

Wake’s injured hamstring has also shown improvement. He practiced fully Thursday after being limited Wednesday.

Wake appeared in just 15 defensive snaps before Dolphins coaches pulled him Sunday at Jacksonville.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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