Barry Jackson

Dolphins’ ailing offense last in seven categories; solutions elusive

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler ducks down behind linemen as he looks for a receiver as they play the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, October 8, 2017.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler ducks down behind linemen as he looks for a receiver as they play the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, October 8, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Because of fallout from the resignation of coach Chris Foerster, Dolphins coach Adam Gase wasn’t asked a single question about his ailing offense on Monday.

And while there were no questions, there apparently aren’t any answers, either.

Despite making two lineup changes on Sunday, the Dolphins still seemingly have no solution to jump-start a unit that ranks last in the league, by far, in scoring, with only 34 of the team’s measly 41 points generated by the offense.

“How we’ve been playing these last three weeks is unacceptable,” center Mike Pouncey said. “We’re not going to beat any teams playing like that.”

The Dolphins rank 32nd and last in seven major offensive categories: yards per game, yards per play, passing net yards per game, passing net yards per play, first downs per game, third down efficiency and points per game.

“We just have to clean up a lot of things that every good offense does,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “You don’t turn the ball over, you don’t have second-and-longs, you don’t have third-and-longs. You continue drives. You’ve got to get in and out of the huddle and convert whenever we have a chance to make plays.”

While coach Adam Gase remains fully committed to Cutler, calls for his benching continue to grow louder nationally.

“You owe it to your team to give Matt Moore an opportunity,” NBC’s Rodney Harrison said Sunday night.

CBS’ Boomer Esiason seemed even more adament.

Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins coach, defends quarterback Jay Cutler on his performance in their victory over the Tennessee Titans. The fans chanted for backup quarterback Matt Moore to replace Cutler.

“Why isn’t Matt Moore playing?” he asked Sunday. “Sooner or later, it has got to come to an end. There is no passion, no excitement, no inspiration. He can’t make a play. I see a guy dance around, can’t find a spot in the pocket to deliver the football. It’s not all his fault. I get it. But you’ve got an alternative.”

Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, a longtime NFL writer, said other teams are laughing at the Dolphins for their commitment to Cutler.

According to sources, Gase remains committed to Cutler because: 1) he believes the blame for the offensive problems lies largely in other areas, such as bad blocking; 2) he believes Cutler is clearly his best quarterback; 3) he believes replacing him is unwarranted and sends a bad message.

So the Dolphins march on with Cutler, whose career-low 74.8 passer rating ranks 30th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks, ahead of only Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Cleveland rookie DeShone Kizer.

Cutler’s 5.39 yards per attempt is 31st, narrowly ahead of only Kizer (5.35).

Cutler said he takes “a lot” of the responsibility for the offense’s struggles. “As a quarterback, whenever you win, you get a lot of praise; whenever you lose, rightfully so, you’re going to get a lot of blame,” he said.

Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins quarterback, talks about their disappointing performance in their victory over the Tennessee Titans.

But whereas Gase has no desire to bench Cutler, he did make changes at two other positions:

• Tight end Anthony Fasano, who played far less than Julius Thomas in the first three weeks, started for the first time and played 44 snaps, compared with 36 for Thomas and 18 for MarQueis Gray, who played far more than the previous three weeks but dropped a pass.

• Instead of alternating starter Anthony Steen and Jesse Davis at left guard, the Dolphins gave all 59 snaps to Steen. Pro Football Focus said Steen “really struggled in pass blocking” but dominated as a run blocker and graded out as the NFL’s third-best guard in Week 5.

Also, receiver DeVante Parker was limited to three snaps because of a sprained ankle and is questionable for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. Jakeem Grant played 33 of the Dolphins’ 59 offensive snaps in his absence.

“When you lose a guy like that, it’s always going to hurt,” Cutler said of Parker.

The Dolphins hope to build on their one offensive touchdown drive Sunday, which ended with Jarvis Landry’s go-ahead six-yard reception early in the fourth quarter.

The difference in that drive, Cutler said, is “we had some play-action going. We protected, we made some plays on the outside, had a few good runs. Adam had a nice call down on the goal line and gave Jarvis a shot. We were just in rhythm. When we get a couple first downs, we protect up front and I get the ball out, good things are going to happen.

“When we do the opposite of that, bad things are going to happen. That’s what we did for 90 percent of the drives.”

Though the offense has been scaled back significantly, Cutler said “we’ve got more than enough” available in the playbook.

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