Barry Jackson

Dolphins continue penchant for flopping on national TV

Running back Damien Williams #26 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by free safety Reggie Nelson #27 of the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 5, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Running back Damien Williams #26 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by free safety Reggie Nelson #27 of the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 5, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Getty Images

A 12-pack of Dolphins nuggets the morning day after Miami’s 27-24 loss to Oakland:

• Looking at the big picture - and that includes last season’s unexpected playoff berth - the move from Tony Sparano and Joe Philbin to Adam Gase has been an upgrade.

But here’s one of several issues that hasn’t changed under Gase: This team flops in the highest profile of games.

Since the start of the 2015 season (Philbin was fired four games into that season), Miami is 1-8 in games televised to the entire country. They’ve been outscored by an embarrassing 246-122 in those games.

Undcr Gase, the Dolphins are 1-5 in those games. This season, they’ve been outscored 87-24 in those full national games, though at least they were competitive Sunday.

Since NFL playoff berths aren’t determined by sportswriter rankings, this isn’t nearly as big a problem as an offense that doesn’t score enough points, or a leaky pass defense or a penchant for penalties at inauspicious times.

But these high-profile games shape the national narrative on the Dolphins, and when fans and players and pundits around the country watch this team, they usually watch them at their worst.

The Dolphins have two more national TV chances to change that perception this season: next Monday at Carolina and Monday, Dec. 11 against New England.

So why isn’t this team able to perform at its best under the biggest spotlight? One major factor is that the caliber of competition is better in nationally televised games. But I wonder if it’s as simple as that.

• You need your best players to be at their best in these types of games and except for Ndamukong Suh (who was very good Sunday), that wasn’t the case.

Reshad Jones was beaten for a 44-yard touchdown pass, then was beaten by Seth Roberts for a key 29-yard conversion on 3rd and 6 and was then called for a highly questionable unnecessary roughness penalty.

Mike Pouncey? His most significant play of the night was a holding penalty that helped thwart a key late possession.

Don’t blame Jarvis Landry for his modest numbers (6 for 32), but you would like the player who dubs himself the NFL’s best receiver - yes, that’s what he said on NBC - to be given more opportunities downfield. And he committed a hurtful holding penalty that negated a 31-yard run.

Cameron Wake had one tackle and no quarterback hits.

The Dolphins need more from their best players. Aside from Suh, they didn’t get it Sunday.

• Kenyan Drake ended up playing 37 snaps and Damien Williams 30, with Sinorise Perry not getting an offensive snap... Neither Leonte Carroo nor Jakeem Grant got an offensive snap, either... Julius Thomas, who had his best receiving game of the season, played 49 snaps to Anthony Fasano’s 32. Fasano continues to do good work, including pushing Drake into the end zone on a two-point conversion.. Sam Young played 16 shaky snaps after Ja’Wuan James left with a hamstring injury that had him walking gingerly afterward.

• Defensively, the Dolphins used Georgia rookie Maurice Smith on 18 snaps, including a bunch of third downs, in relief of Michael Thomas, who played 45 of Miami’s 63 defensive snaps. The Dolphins wanted to conserve Thomas’ energy for special teams, according to NBC’s Cris Collinsworth. T.J. McDonald comes off suspension this week.

• Davon Godchaux played more snaps than Jordan Phillips (37 to 30). According to PFF, “Godchaux didn’t do much as a pass-rusher, with just one hurry and a batted pass on the night, but he was the Dolphins best run defender against Oakland. He had four run stops on just 18 snaps in run defense after having entered the game with seven stops in his first seven games combined.”

• Defensive end snaps were allocated this way: Andre Branch 36, Wake 33, William Hayes 30, Charles Harris 28 and Terrence Fede 4. Harris had one tackle and his rookie season proceeds rather unremarkably.

• Kiko Alonso (who played every defensive snap) has had a solid year, but he was exposed in pass coverage Sunday. Alonso allowed five catches for 82 yards to Jared Cook and gave up a 12-yard pass to Michael Crabtree as well. Five of the six catches against went for at least 10 yards, including four first downs.

• PFF gave its top five individual Dolphin player grades, in order, to Thomas, DeVante Parker, Jay Cutler, Smith and Godchaux.

• Cutler’s 81.0 completion percentage (34 for 42) was a career best, surpassing his previous best of 80.8 percent (21-of-26) on Dec. 5, 2010 at the Detroit Lions as a member of the Chicago Bears. Cutler, who threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, posted a 121.3 quarterback rating, the 12th highest in his career.

• Suh’s strip sack gave him 50.5 in his career, second most for a defensive tackle since 2010, behind only Geno Atkins’ 57.

• Gray joined tight end Larry Seiple (1967, 1969) as the only tight ends in Dolphins history to have a reception, rushing attempt and pass attempt in a season.He converted a 3rd and 1 with a three-yard run in the second quarter.

• This doesn’t get easier, folks. The remaining Dolphins opponents (including two games apiece against the Patriots and Bills) have a 56.8 winning percentage, making Miami’s remaining schedule the league’s third-most difficult.

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