Barry Jackson

Dungy, Collinsworth bullish on Dolphins; Dolphins’ lineup change helps

Some Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:

• Count NBC’s Tony Dungy and Cris Collinsworth among those encouraged about the Dolphins.

Speaking on a conference call Tuesday, both analysts told me they can envision the Dolphins (3-2) hanging around in the playoff race through the end of the season.

“Everybody in the AFC East is a contender,” Dungy said. “I am surprised they are struggling offensively but any time you change quarterbacks and bring your quarterback in from the [broadcast] booth instead of the practice field, it makes it difficult. But they've got enough weaponry. I think you are going to see their offense come on and I think they will be in the hunt at the end of the year.”

Collinsworth’s take: “They certainly have the weapons, there's no question about that. To watch Jarvis Landry, I think he’s one of the really great big-play receivers. Some of the plays he made in that game the other day, fourth down catch. He just doesn't get enough credit for what he does.

“I've always liked Jay Ajayi. I don't know that he catches the ball as well sometimes as he could but you get the feeling with Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas [they could get the offense going]. I think this offensive line will continue to improve, because defensively, they can play. They can make plays on that side of the ball.

“There is no reason [they can't be in the playoff mix] other than they've always been in tough with the Patriots. That's been the reason they've been struggling to get in the playoffs when you can't get past that team. I tell you, this Jets team, they had New England. They drop an interception. They throw an interception to Malcolm Butler before the half.

“It's not impossible to beat the Patriots right now from what we've seen so far. Am I going to pick against New England at this point in the season? I don't think so. I've seen this movie too many times before."

• The Dolphins’ Nov. 5 home game against Oakland would be the Dolphins’ second appearance on NBC’s Sunday night football, the league’s marquee package, since NBC acquired rights in 2006. The other: September 2010 against the Jets.

But that game could be in danger of being moved out of prime time, more so because the Raiders (2-4) have been disappointing.

Under a new rule this year, NBC and the NFL can flex out two Sunday night games between Week 5 and 9. NBC and the NFL did not flex out games in Weeks 5, 6 and 7 (this Sunday) or 8.

The NFL will decide the fate of the Dolphins-Raiders game by Tuesday, NBC confirmed.

Every game after Week 9 can be flexed out.

• One other Dolphins TV note: To balance the network schedules this Sunday, the NFL cross-flexed Dolphins-Jets from CBS to Fox before the season.

Because Fox’s top two NFL play-by-play announcers (Joe Buck and Kevin Burkhardt) are on postseason baseball assignment, Fox scrambles its NFL teams in October.

And that means an NFL Network studio host (Dan Hellie) will call Sunday’s Dolphins game with Chris Spielman for Fox.

• Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot on Twitter) unearthed an interesting stat that validates Adam Gase’s decision to use more two tight end sets against Atlanta:

The Dolphins this season have gained 167 yards on 35 rushes when using two tight ends together. That’s 4.8 per carry.

They’ve gained 192 yards on 66 carries when using three receivers together. That’s 2.9 per carry.

Gase said using more two tight ends against Atlanta was both a strategic decision and also a result of injured receiver DeVante Parker being unavailable.

• According to Elias, Miami’s win Sunday was the first time in the NFL in the past two seasons that a team won a game after going to halftime being shut out and trailing by more than 10 points. (Miami was down 17-0).

The last time Miami won that way was its wild card playoff victory against Peyton Manning and the Colts following the 2000 season.

Here’s my 12-pack of UM football news and nuggets from Tuesday. Check back tonight for more.

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