Slumping Dolphins again headed in wrong direction

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 10, 2012
From the start of his first year as coach of the Miami Dolphins, Joe Philbin stressed the need for steady improvement. Instead, a late-season tailspin has the team headed yet again in the wrong direction - toward a long offseason. The Dolphins (5-8) have lost five of their past six games, ensuring that for a fourth consecutive year they'll finish .500 or worse. Going into its game against Jacksonville (2-11), Miami is virtually assured of missing the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 years. Following a 27-13 loss Sunday at San Francisco, Philbin attributed the skid not to a lack of talent but to a ''lack of playmaking'' at critical times. ''It's correctable,'' he said Monday. ''There were some plays there to be made on both sides of the ball that we didn't do. There were some opportunities we didn't capitalize on.'' For the second straight week, the Dolphins remained in contention against a division leader until the final minutes. But against both the 49ers and New England Patriots, fourth-quarter rallies came up short. Feeble offense and a takeaway drought have doomed the Dolphins in recent weeks. The offense has totaled three touchdowns in the past four defeats, and the defense has forced only one turnover in the past six games. Getting better from week to week has been a Philbin mantra, but the Dolphins aren't doing it. They rank fourth worst in the NFL in yards, and are tied for fifth worst in points at 18.5 per game, with productivity declining of late. ''I don't know exactly what the answer is,'' rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ''But we have to make the plays that are there. You can't win in this league scoring as few points as we are. It's frustrating.'' Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman concurred. ''I would agree with what Ryan said,'' Sherman said. ''I would probably say `expletive frustrating.' We feel like we're close, but not close enough.'' At San Francisco, as has been the case in several games, the Dolphins played their worst at crunch time. On their final possession, trailing by a touchdown, Tannehill went 0 for 5. Facing one of the NFL's best defenses, Tannehill did throw for a score - his eight touchdown passes rank 30th. But he averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt, and reinforced a budding reputation for failing to deliver late. ''He played better in the first half,'' Philbin said. ''At the end of the game, where statistically he didn't perform as well as he would have liked, there were a lot of factors that contributed to that. It wasn't just him. There wasn't as much separation in the route-running. It wasn't like there were wide-open guys he was flat-out missing.'' The absence of a deep threat remains Miami's glaring weakness. Top receivers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess have combined to make 123 catches, but they've totaled only two touchdowns. A lack of defensive playmakers has hurt, too. With 12 takeaways this year, the Dolphins are on pace to set a franchise record for fewest in a season. No linebacker has an interception. While opponents have fumbled 17 times, Miami has just three recoveries, which is tied for last in the league. And the problem's getting worse: Over the past six games, the Dolphins have just one takeaway. ''That's not good,'' defensive end Cameron Wake said. ''You look at every statistic we have in football, and that's the one that determines your success.'' Wake might be the only Miami player to make the Pro Bowl. He notched three sacks against the 49ers, increasing his season total to 14, which matches a career high. But he's on the verge of his fourth losing season in four years with Miami. ''I would give away every sack I got for a winning record and opportunities that we are not capitalizing on,'' he said. ''It is hard to contribute with that kind of stuff when we are stinking it up.'' --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LISTEN: Kevin Harlan saves MNF again by doing play-by-play of two idiots on the field

Jets security guards make best tackles of the night on fan rushing field

NFL changes stance, Titans and Browns can participate in ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign

Report: MLB smashed old revenue record in 2016

Percy Harvin out for season due to migraines

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ducks goalie had embarrassing reason for not playing in relief

Bruce Arians emphatically shoots down retirement rumor

Siemian out of walking boot; Broncos hoping he can play

Report: Harper seeking $400 million, likely to leave Nationals

Report: Aldon Smith setting up meeting to seek reinstatement

Rams players vent frustrations as losses pile up

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

MLB Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL sweaters)

Best of Yardbarker: CFB Championship Week chaos

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

The Pirates prepare for rarely chartered waters in dealing Andrew McCutchen

Joakim Noah’s contract is becoming worst deal in NBA

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

Final College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama reigns

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker