Barry Jackson

Dolphins say ‘We are not normal’

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) embraces Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase after an NFL football game, Sun., Oct. 15, 2017, in Atlanta. The Miami Dolphins won 20-17.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) embraces Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase after an NFL football game, Sun., Oct. 15, 2017, in Atlanta. The Miami Dolphins won 20-17. AP

A 12-pack of Dolphins notes from Monday:

• Adam Gase last week gave his players a “We Are Not Normal” T-shirt and several wore it Sunday.

“I was going over something and [Dolphins player engagement chief Caleb Thornhill] found some sign and we threw it up there in our intrasquad meeting and I remember Cam [Wake] walked by me and said, ‘That’s a shirt,’” Gase said.

“I just banked that one. When things start kind of going in different directions, and the sky is falling for everybody else and our guys are kind of plugging along, I felt like it was a good week to give those out and see what happened. Those guys embrace that and know a lot of the things they’ve been through and a lot of things they’ve fought through, a lot of people wouldn’t have done what they’ve done so far.”

Miami has won 11 straight games decided by seven points or fewer.

• Gase on Jay Cutler’s work Sunday: “I thought he played well. We had the fourth down that got batted down. We had a couple drops early. When you have five in a game, that’s going to hurt you again. We had them early, shook those off, started making some plays. He did a good job getting the ball out. Guys realized he wasn’t going to wait for them to get open.

“It was get your head around. The ball is coming out. He hung in the pocket, took a couple shots I would rather not see him take. Third time we’ve had a fourth quarter comeback since he’s been here.”

Said Gase, on his offense: “Six chances to score points [in Falcons territory], and four of those drives, we get a touchdown or field goal. We’re close. We’re close to going 6 for 8 in scoring points on drives.”

• The Dolphins ran the ball very well out of two tight end sets. Gase used those sets were used partly for strategic reasons and partly because DeVante Parker was out.

• Gase, on going for it twice on fourth down: “They know that’s how we’re going to operate. We just haven’t had a lot of opportunities this year. We were playing the reigning MVP [Matt Ryan]. That was our game plan: be aggressive and if we want to go win the game, we’ve got to go take it. We felt like we had to go on the attack.”

• On how center Jake Brendel did in his 39 snaps filling in for Mike Pouncey, who left with a concussion after 28 snaps: “He did good. I’m sure there are some things he wants to clean up. That’s what we’ve been seeing at practice.”

Gase said “the whole offensive line did a good job. If you make a mistake, we’re at least going 100 miles per hour and tyring to keep the pocket firm with Cutler and give him a chance to make some throws. Jay Ajayi was doing a great job. He ran through arm tackles and fought. Receivers did a great job of blocking. Tight ends were trying to finish every block. The whole group did a better job of trying to finish the plays.”

• Defensive coordinator Matt Burke told his team at halftime: “We gave up all the points that we can. We’ve got to pitch a shutout.”

Said Gase: “They tightened a few things up, made sure they were very sound versus the run game. That’s what they’ve been doing all year. It’s been impressive to watch. It’s fun to watch [this Dolphins defense]....Those veteran linebackers have really helped us. Those last few games, we’ve noticed a big difference.”

• There were no updates on Pouncey or Parker with regard to the Jets game.

• After playing Jakeem Grant 33 offensive snaps and Leonte Carroo four snaps against Tennessee, Gase essentially reversed that against Atlanta, playing Carroo 24 snaps on offense and Grant six in DeVante Parker’s absence.

• Damien Williams clearly has surpassed Kenyan Drake as the No. 2 running back. Williams played 18 offensive snaps against Atlanta, Drake only one. Jay Ajayi played 48.

• Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano both started at tight end, with Thomas playing 54 snaps and Fasano 47. No. 3 tight end MarQueis Gray played 12.

• Defensively, all four starting defensive backs played all 57 snaps: cornerbacks Cordrea Tankersley and Xavien Howard, plus safeties Reshad Jones and Nate Allen.

Linebackers Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons also played every snap. Rey Maualuga played 16 snaps and Mike Hull and Chase Allen didn’t play at all on defense.

• The Dolphins again used only three corners, with Bobby McCain playing 38 snaps and Alterraun Verner playing none. Byron Maxwell wasn’t active.

• According to Pro Football Focus, Howard allowed six receptions Sunday on a team-high eight targets, for 91 yards and a touchdown. (He had a tough matchup against Julio Jones.) For the season, PFF rates Howard 111th out of 114 qualifying corners.

But Gase said of Howard: “I thought he did well. X is playing with a lot of confidence right now and we have a lot of confidence in him. He’s as tough as they come. It’s rare to have two corners who can cover and tackle. It’s helped our run defense as well. Those guys get to the edge and are not getting much.”

Tankersley was targeted just three times against Atlanta, allowing one reception for 13 yards.

• Among defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh played 47 of 57 defensive tackles, with Jordan Phillips and Davon Godchaux each playing 21 and Vincent Taylor nine.

At defensive end, Andre Branch played 48 of 57, Cam Wake 43, Charles Harris 24 and Williams Hayes 14. But as usual, they were an impactful 14 snaps for Hayes.

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