Barry Jackson

‘We do everything the hard way, for some reason,’ says Dolphins assistant

A six-pack of Thursday Dolphins notes:

▪ It’s remarkable that the Dolphins are 3-2 considering they’ve scored a league-low 61 points, or 12.2 per game.

It’s also remarkable considering how few big plays they’ve generated.

Through five games, the Dolphins’ longest rush is 20 yards (by Jay Ajayi). Conversely, their opponent’s longest rush is 44 yards.

More galling: Their longest passing play is 31 yards, by DeVante Parker. The opponents’ is 69 yards.

Their longest punt return is 14 yards, their longest kickoff return 34 yards.

The Dolphins know this must change.

“We do everything the hard way for some reason,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said, noting more big plays are needed. “We need to catch the deep one to Julius [Thomas]. We need to pull one off our shoelaces on a slant to go for 40 or throw it better.”

For some perspective, there have been 98 offensive plays that have gone for 40 or more yards in the NFL this season. The Patriots have seven of them. The Dolphins, Bears and Jaguars are the only teams with none.

The Dolphins have only six plays of 20 or more yards, tied with Baltimore for the fewest. By comparison, the Rams have 28 and New England and Arizona 27 apiece.

Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is an optimistic guy by nature. His response to Hurricane Irma was the latest example.

One caveat: The Dolphins are one of only 10 teams that have played five games instead of six.

▪ The Dolphins’ return game hasn’t been very productive. Miami is 17th in kickoff return average at 21.0 per return, on 10 returns.

The Dolphins are 21st in punt return average, with a 6.5 average.

“I’m not overly concerned,” special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said of the return game. “We’d love our stats to be a little bit better.”

Jakeem Grant has nine punt returns, with a 6.8 average. Jarvis Landry has six, with a 6.2 average.

Kenyan Drake and Grant each have five kickoff returns, with Drake having a narrowly better average (21.2 to 20.8).

▪ Adam Gase said the knee injury that kept defensive end Andre Branch out of practice on Wednesday surfaced on Monday and implied it wasn’t serious. Branch practiced Thursday.

“It’s something that came up after the game,” Gase said. “That happens every once in a while. We are going to be smart and keep eye on him, make sure we are getting these guys to Sunday. We need to be smart with these guys and do what’s right. We’ve got two games in a short period of time” - the Jets on Sunday and next Thursday at Baltimore.

▪  On Parker’s status, Christensen said: “We keep holding out hope. He had some Lazarus experiences where he’s showed up from the dead.” Parker missed practice Thursday.

▪ Christensen said Ajayi as a receiver is “a million miles [from] when he got here, but he’s not where we want him to be.”... On Jake Brendel, who continues to fill in for concussed Mike Pouncey, Christensen said: “I like Brendel because he jumped in there and went without a hiccup. Really solid performance” against Atlanta.

▪ The Dolphins very much appreciate what Ndamukong Suh is doing, not only his high-level play but his evolution into a mentor for young players.

“Suh has been great,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “Been giving a lot of feedback on the sideline on game days. Coming over to those guys and what he’s seeing. Been really receptive to me telling him, I need to move up over here to do this.

“I’ve known him for 10 years. We drafted him in Detroit. Biggest thing I’ve seen is how he’s been with the young guys. Really taken those two rookie tackles and Jordan under his wing. More than I’ve ever seen him try to help those guys. He sees where he is in his career and say another way I can help is keep my legacy going with some of these guys and help them become good players. He’s been really, really good with the other tackles and being another coach out there for us.”

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