Dolphins seek more consistency on offense
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) The Miami Dolphins have totaled 71 points in their two victories while scoring one touchdown in each of their two defeats, a roller-coaster pattern that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor finds easy to assess.
''We have a better chance if we score a lot,'' Lazor said Monday.
So that's what the Dolphins (2-2) will try to do in the final 12 games. A bye this week means extra time to figure out how to get more from a maddeningly unpredictable offense.
The Dolphins scored 33 points in their opening win over New England and totaled a season-high 435 yards in Sunday's 38-14 victory over Oakland in London. In each game they dominated despite committing three turnovers.
But in losses to Buffalo and Kansas City, the offense was awful.
''Consistency is what we're looking for,'' coach Joe Philbin said. ''Even in the two losses we had, I would argue there were periods in time where we had momentum in the second half of those games, but we certainly didn't sustain it. On Sunday, we just kind of kept playing. We grabbed some momentum and we never let up.
''Now we have to start playing at a consistently high level. It's time.''
The Dolphins' final touchdown came at 5:30 a.m. Monday when they arrived on their return from London, and the long trip was well worth the trouble. The victory put the brakes on a skid in danger of accelerating out of control.
Had the Dolphins lost, they would have taken a three-game losing streak into the bye week, leaving plenty of time for questions about the job security of Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Such talk was quelled - for now, at least - by Tannehill's best performance of the season, lifting Miami back into the mix in the AFC East.
Philbin, whose noncommittal public comments regarding Tannehill's status created a soap opera last week, had only praise for his quarterback Monday.
''He played very well,'' Philbin said. ''The big thing is I thought his play speed was very good. His decision-making was good. And he threw the ball well. He had good velocity, the location was good. I think he was just kind of clicking.''
Even so, the highest-scoring performance in Philbin's 36-game tenure was a collective effort. Of the Dolphins' 278 yards passing, a season-high 151 came after the catch. And Miami totaled 157 yards rushing.
''With the receivers, you saw guys who were excited to have the ball in their hands and working hard to do something with it,'' Lazor said. ''They started to develop an attitude of how they want to play with the ball in their hands. And our offensive line felt a kind of momentum that they could control the game up front.''
With a revamped line, the Dolphins have allowed nine sacks, putting them well below last year's frightful franchise-record pace of 58. Improved blocking is also reflected in Miami's rushing average of 142 yards per game, which ranks fifth in the NFL.
After steamrolling winless Oakland, the challenge will be stiffer in the next game Oct. 12 against Green Bay. But the offensive line should receive a boost with the return of Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who missed the first four games recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Also returning will be middle linebacker Koa Misi and safety Reshad Jones. Misi missed the past two games with an ankle injury, while Jones was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.