Dolphins in retreat against the run

BY foxsports • December 9, 2014

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) The Miami Dolphins have never been so bad against the run.

Not their 1966 expansion team, which won three games. Not any of the awful defenses that kept Dan Marino from winning a Super Bowl. Not even the 2007 team that went 1-15.

In the past three games the Dolphins have allowed 661 yards rushing, the worst three-game stretch in franchise history, according to STATS.

''Disappointing,'' defensive end Cameron Wake said Tuesday.

''Not acceptable,'' defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said.

''We have to do a better job,'' coach Joe Philbin said.

Time is running out, with playoff hopes already slim. To have any shot at a postseason berth, the Dolphins (7-6) likely need a sweep of their final three games, beginning Sunday at New England.

Poor run defense is a big reason the Dolphins have lost two of three past three games. They gave up 201 yards in a defeat at Denver and 183 in a loss to Baltimore. They also allowed 277 in a victory over the woeful New York Jets.

Each of those opponents averaged more than 5.5 yards per carry, and Miami was gouged for 21 runs of at least 10 yards.

Frustration became evident when defensive tackle Jared Odrick screamed at Philbin on the sideline following a 44-yard run by the Ravens late in Sunday's game.

''Any time you don't play up to the standards we like to uphold, yeah, you're upset,'' Odrick said. ''Everybody is upset.''

Odrick said there's no rift between players and the coaching staff. But the Dolphins are puzzled that they've been riddled on the ground, because run defense was expected to be a strength.

The defensive front is deep and experienced, with Wake, Odrick, Olivier Vernon, Randy Starks and Earl Mitchell part of a rotation that was formidable for much of the season.

''You always tell your group as a d-line, `This game is on our backs. We need to carry this team,''' Odrick said.

Lately they're taking the team in the wrong direction. Three weeks ago the Dolphins ranked eighth in the NFL in run defense; now they're 22nd.

Miami is allowing 4.4 yards per carry, which ranks fifth-worst in the league and would be the team's highest average since 2007.

''We've had self-inflicted wounds in the past few games,'' Wake said. ''That doesn't all of a sudden turn us into a bunch of bums.''

Coyle said the breakdowns of late have been a collective effort, with poor tackling part of the problem.

''We look at every single play,'' Coyle said. ''We look at every defense that we had called and we try to analyze what happened. Each one, there's a reason. It's not one thing you can pin it down on. We just have to do a better job in a lot of areas. It's very difficult because we take a lot of pride in that.''

Rectifying the situation becomes more complicated because of injuries to linebacker Koa Misi (hamstring) and Jelani Jenkins (foot), who sat out the part of practice the media were allowed to watch Tuesday. On the plus side, cornerback Cortland Finnegan (ankle) practiced and said he ''absolutely'' will play Sunday after missing four games.

The Dolphins gave up only 89 yards rushing when they beat the Patriots 33-20 in the season opener. Miami pitched a shutout in the second half.

''We've just got to go out and do what we've shown we can do,'' Wake said.


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