Barry Jackson

Dolphins hope blunt defensive meeting helps; Tunsil improving

Miami Dolphins players were honest with each other during an unusually structured defensive meeting earlier this week, and they hope it makes a difference after four weeks of defensive regression.
Miami Dolphins players were honest with each other during an unusually structured defensive meeting earlier this week, and they hope it makes a difference after four weeks of defensive regression. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:

• Players were honest with each other during an unusually structured defensive meeting earlier this week, and they hope it makes a difference after four weeks of defensive regression.

"Guys spoke up, said that’s my fault," defensive end Andre Branch said. "There was a lot of ownership taken and that’s awesome. We haven’t played with that edge we should play with. We haven’t played with energy and I am part of it because people look at me as an energy guy and I didn’t do it last week."

During that meeting, defensive players watched each play in that second half debacle in Carolina and exchanged their thoughts.

Branch said what’s happening to the Dolphins’ defense "is nothing these other teams are doing. It’s what we’re doing to ourselves. And everyone is taking turns. It’s not just one person."

• Gase said left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who struggled early in the season, has "played better" recently.

"He’s been getting better throughout the year," Gase said. “He is extremely hard on himself, but we have very high expectations for him and we’ve made that known to him.

"He’s always been very confident since he got here, especially when he got bumped out there [to tackle]. I think one of the first things he ever told me was, ‘Don’t worry about my side.’ That kind of confidence is what you want."

• In the past, Gase said Kenyan Drake would do some things that made his crazy. But this year, "he’s made a lot of improvement. A lot of improvements."

Those improvements apparently gave Gase the confidence to trade Jay Ajayi.

"The mistakes are way, way down," Gase said. "I don’t know if it’s that he playing so much more and he’s getting more reps. That’s just kind of made everything make sense to him. I see a guy that’s very attentive to detail in meetings. He’s always taking notes, good eye contract, asking good questions. Sometimes it’s just when you get thrust in that role, it seems like you know what to do real fast."

• Both safety T.J. McDonald and left guard Ted Larsen said they felt some rust in their debuts this week.

McDonald, who missed four tackles, said "70 snaps are hard to simulate that conditioning you need. Definitely felt like I was flying around out there and adjusted to the speed of the game."

Said Larsen: "I hadn’t played since Week 1 in preseason. But it was a good starting spot."

• Gase, instead of ripping his team, took the opposite tact this week and was positive with the group, Anthony Fasano said, adding: "He has a good sense of team, when to pick it up."

• Quick stuff: With Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown retaking the NFL lead for receptions on Thursday night, Jarvis Landry, who’s now No. 2, said he cracked to Gase that he needs "more passes" this week to get the lead back…

Fox assigned Dick Stockton and former ESPN announcer and ex-Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth to Sunday’s Dolphins-Tampa Bay game, which will be televised only in Florida (except Jacksonville)…

The Dec. 3 Dolphins-Broncos game was shifted from CBS to Fox as part of the league’s cross-flexing mechanism that allows the NFL to balance the network schedules. The game will remain at 1 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium.

One example of the upside of cross-flexing: A Saints-Rams game, suddenly attractive, was shifted from Fox to CBS at 4:25 p.m. Nov. 26, a move that enables that game to be televised to a large chunk of the country on a CBS doubleheader week instead of a Raiders-Broncos game that is now less appealing than it seemed in April.

 

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