Barry Jackson

The biggest disappointment of this Dolphins season

Miami Dolphins defensive line sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of a game on Jan. 3. The teams play Sunday in Masachusetts.
Miami Dolphins defensive line sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of a game on Jan. 3. The teams play Sunday in Masachusetts. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:

• Of all the disappointing things about this Dolphins season, this ranks as highly as anything: Only three teams have fewer sacks than Miami’s 17.

That shouldn’t be the case for a team with so much invested in its defensive line.

Cam Wake has had one sack in the past month (and that sack was awarded to him by the NFL on Friday, when the league decided that Wake and not Jordan Phillips had the sack on the near-safety against Tampa Bay).

What’s more, Andre Branch hasn’t had one in five weeks, rookie Charles Harris has just one all season and perpetually double-teamed Ndamukong Suh has 3.5, a pace off the 8.5 he had in his last season with the Detroit Lions.

One factor is that the Dolphins have trailed about 90 percent of the time in games this season. But there’s more to it than that.

"I think there are a lot of factors that go into sacking the quarterback," Suh said this week when asked to explain the low sack numbers. "I would say that if I were to point out one particular piece that is a huge stat is the fact that we’ve played against some elite quarterbacks that have gotten the ball out tremendously fast. I can think of only maybe one quarterback in Cam Newton – which we had a terrible rush defense week that week, he didn’t really have to throw the ball as much – but I think every other quarterback that we’ve played in all other nine weeks has gotten out the ball very, very fast and has been up in the top of the league of getting out the ball, getting the ball out fast."

Miami Dolphins DE Cameron Wake reflects on the Fins' loss to the Baltimore Ravens, 40-0.

Of course, Tom Brady often gets the ball out quickly, so this could be problematic this week.

Miami hopes to generate a rush on Brady without blitzing a ton. But that will be challenging.

"Any time you are adding into the rush from pressure, you’re taking away from your coverage element and you’re exposing some things back there," defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. "Brady is really, really good at seeing that happen and seeing that coming. It’s difficult to fool him on pressures and they always have answers built in – quick throws and outlets – for him to get the ball out. You’re going to have to pick and choose your spots on where the pressures come." 

• Linebacker Stephone Anthony, who practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a quad injury, was "pleased" to get his first defensive snaps as a Dolphin last week and he played well in those 12 snaps.

"I did some good things," he said, adding he appreciates the opportunity the front office and coaches "have given me."

Anthony said he was "pretty patient" waiting for his chance.

What are his strengths? "I could give you a ton of weaknesses," he cracked.

But seriously, "I am big and I can run."

The Dolphins want to take a look at Anthony over the final six weeks to see what they have after dealing a fifth-round pick for him. He’s under contract for next season.

• Jakeem Grant, who had a terrific preseason as a receiver, admitted his lack of playing time on offense (no snaps the past two weeks) "gets frustrating, but you have three talented guys in front of you. I have no hard feelings toward [Adam] Gase. That’s my guy."

Grant said he has altered his approach on returns after talking to special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi.

"I took a lot of what Riz said [to heart]," he said. "I always think I could score a touchdown because I want to flip the momentum. He said to sometimes take what’s there, so I have been doing that. Sometimes a 10-yard return can pop into" something more.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase discusses Jakeem Grant's big night, Jarvis Landry's legal limbo and more from Minneapolis.

• CBS is taking a risk by sending Dolphins-Patriots to 50 percent of the country because of the potential for this game to get lopsided early.

Consider: Miami has been outscored 134-50 in the first half this season. Meanwhile, New England has outscored teams 187-101 in the first half.

Said Rizzi, who has been on Miami’s staff for nine games in New England: "Talking about the times I’ve been here, we’ve had a couple of times where we’ve gotten the lead up there, as well. I think that’s going to be our emphasis this week is getting off (to a good start). It seems like we’ve been talking about it all season, and unfortunately, we haven’t played the football that we want to play in the first half."

There was this amusing exchange with Rizzi when he was asked if he was aware of the point spread (Patriots favored by 17):

"No,” the good-natured Rizzi said. “Points, the last time I checked, the Russians were supposed to beat the Americans and the USA hockey team."

That’s the last time you checked?

"I watched Miracle over the summer. so I know they were a heavy favorite. Are you trying to say I’m an Italian guy from New Jersey so I should know what the point spreads are? No. Honest to God, I can’t remember the last time I checked one. I have no idea."

• Count offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen among those fed up with the Dolphins committing penalties; Miami has committed the league’s second-most.

"We’re addressing it in the meetings," Christensen said. "Obviously, we addressed it in practice. We’re addressing it hard in practice. We’re trying to pull guys out of there if they jump offsides. We’re trying to do everything possible; but so far it hasn’t helped. That was probably the worst week we’ve had. It’s unexplainable.

"It’s unfathomable to me that it happens this late in the season that you pass the half way point and you’re still having issues with procedure penalties. Some of the other ones maybe you can understand, but not procedure penalties. That’s bad ball. There’s no other way to say it. It’s bad ball on all of our parts – everybody."

• Why was Rashawn Scott active ahead of Leonte Carroo last week?

"We just thought Rashawn was having a good week of practice and just kind of get him up and get him that game experience to see how it went,” Gase said. “I think every week it’s just going to be keep those guys competing and whoever has a good week, we’ll look to put that guy up."

If you missed it on Thanksgiving, here’s my look at the troubling lack of growth from some of the Dolphins’ young veterans.

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