INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The First Half Of The 2013 Season

Posted Nov 9, 2013

There are several stats that stand out from the first half of the season.

After an up-and-down first half of the season, the Dolphins arrived at the halfway point of the 2013 season with a 4-4 record.

If it seemed as though a lot of games were decided at the end, it’s because that’s just what happened. Five of the Dolphins’ first eight games were decided by four points or less, which matched the Dolphins’ highest total for the first half of a 16-game season. The other time five of Miami’s first eight games were decided by four or less happened just last year.

The Dolphins were 2-3 in close games in the first half of the 2012 and improved that mark to 3-2 this season with victories against Indianapolis, Atlanta and Cincinnati.

That’s just one of the stat that stands out from the first half of the season.

Another involves the production of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw 11 touchdown passes in the first eight games, only one less than he had in all of his rookie season. At the halfway mark in 2012, Tannehill had five TD passes.

At the receiving end, Dolphins wide receivers have combined for six TD catches so far, exactly double the total achieved in 2012 when Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Marlon Moore each finished with one.

With 11 interceptions on the season, the Dolphins already have surpassed their total for all of 2012 and are on pace for their biggest output since 2003 when they finished with 22 picks.

Cornerback Dimitri Patterson leads the way with four interceptions, putting him on pace for eight. No Dolphins player has had that many picks in a season since 1998 when both Sam Madison and Terrell Buckley had eight interceptions. No Dolphins player has had more than five picks in a season since 2003 when Patrick Surtain had seven.

In another important defensive category — and this has gone under the radar — the Dolphins are on pace to set a new franchise record for sacks in a season. Miami arrived at the halfway mark with 25 sacks, more than halfway to the team record of 49, set in 1983 and matched in 2005.

The Dolphins have shown great balance in their pass rushing, with the 25 sacks divided among 11 players:

Dolphins sack leaders:

Cameron Wake 5.5
Olivier Vernon 4.5
Jared Odrick 3.5
Randy Starks 3
Derrick Shelby 2.5
Reshad Jones 1.5
Dion Jordan 1
Koa Misi 1
Dimitri Patterson 1
Paul Soliai 1
Philip Wheeler 0.5

And here’s another good stat from the defensive side. Based on the NFL statistical rankings of yards allowed per game, the Dolphins are only 27th in pass defense. But they’re sixth in terms of opponents’ combined passer rating, a more thorough category which takes into account not only yardage but also completion percentage, yards per attempts, touchdowns and interceptions.

The only teams ahead of Miami in that category have records of 6-2 or better. Here’s the top 10 NFL teams in terms of opponents’ combined passer rating:

1. Kansas City 67.8
2. Seattle 68.6
3. New England 74.2
4. San Francisco 75.3
5. New Orleans 75.8
6. Miami 76.6
7. Carolina 77.1
8. Arizona 79.6
9. Cincinnati 80.5
10. Denver 82.3

On offense, the Dolphins have had four 100-yard receiving performances so far — two by Mike Wallace and one each by Hartline and Charles Clay. They had five all of last season, three by Hartline and two by Davone Bess.

A good indicator of team success in the first half of the season was third-down efficiency on offense. The Dolphins were 3-1 in games where they converted at least 40 percent, the only exception being the New England game. Conversely, the Dolphins went 1-3 when they failed to reach 40 percent, the one exception coming in the Thursday night game against Cincinnati.

Another good indicator, as usual, was turnover ratio. In the first half of the season, the Dolphins were 2-1 when winning the turnover battle, with victories against Cleveland and Cincinnati, and a loss against Baltimore. More telling, Miami was 0-3 when losing the turnover battle, with losses against New Orleans, Buffalo and New England. The Dolphins won the two games (against Indianapolis and Atlanta) where they were even in turnover ratio, meaning they went 4-1 when they didn’t turn the ball over more often than their opponent.

The Dolphins’ game-by-game turnover margin:

at Cleveland, plus-2, won 23-10
at Indianapolis, even, won 24-20
vs. Atlanta, even, won 27-23
at New Orleans, minus-3, lost 38-17
vs. Baltimore, plus-3, lost 26-23
vs. Buffalo, minus-2, lost 23-21
at New England, minus-2, lost 27-17
vs. Cincinnati, plus-3, won 22-20

Individually, punter Brandon Fields is having another banner season. His gross average is at 48.8 yards, down from his team-record 50.2 of last season, but his net is up to 43.2, 2 full yards above the team-record 41.2 he produced in 2012. Fields first set the franchise record in 2009 (39.8) before breaking his own record each of the last two seasons (41.1 in 2011, 41.2 in 2012).

Perhaps the most impressive part of Fields’ punting this season is his 14 punts inside the 20 against only one touchback.

As we look ahead to the second half of the season, note that the Dolphins’ remaining opponents have a combined 31-37 record (including the Jets’ 5-4 twice). That compares to a 37-31 opponents’ combined record in the first half of the season. The second-half figure, of course, is skewed by Tampa Bay’s 0-8 mark.

All told, four of the Dolphins’ remaining eight opponents (again, counting the Jets twice) currently have winning record, while San Diego sits at .500 at 4-4.
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