Time For Introspection With 10-Day Stretch Between Games

Posted Nov 16, 2012

Lots to do during this down time.

Last week the Miami Dolphins had no time at all to dwell on their tough loss at home to the Tennessee Titans because they had another game four days later at Buffalo. There will be 10 days now in between last night’s game with the Bills and the November 25th matchup with Seattle at Sun Life Stadium so a different challenge looms.

Head Coach Joe Philbin shook off the cobwebs from a late evening and early morning arrival back in South Florida to map out a plan for his players and coaching staff going forward. He didn’t rule out taking advantage of the extra time to make some “tweaks” on both sides of the ball, but his priority is to try to get things back on track to where they were headed in the first seven weeks.

“Obviously, we’ve got to be more productive as a football team,” Philbin said in his day-after press conference. “We’ve got to make more plays in critical times and that’s going to be a huge focus. We’ll have extra time so we’ll have a little practice on the Seattle Seahawks and as a coaching staff our responsibility is to get these guys in position to make plays. We’ve got to come up with an excellent plan and then they’ve got to execute.”

If there was one common belief inside the visitors’ locker room at Ralph Wilson Stadium after Miami’s 19-14 loss it was that every member of the team had to be accountable and the players’ conviction was not going to wane. Everyone from the veteran starters down to the rookies had the same look of disappointment on their faces, but they also seemed to have the same resolve to get this fixed.

Running back Reggie Bush was still trying to come to grips with the fact that in this stadium last December he rushed for a career-high 203 yards in snowy conditions, yet was held to just 20 yards on 10 carries last night. In fact, he was in the negative at minus-3 yards at the half and was at a loss for answers, other than to reiterate the importance of these next 10 days before the Seahawks come to town.

“We’ve got to use them wisely and again we need the rest,” said Bush, who also caught two passes for 15 yards against the Bills. “We also need to find a way to better focus and fix whatever the little things that we’re not doing right. We’ll see it on film and we’ll look at it and watch. We’ve just got to make those necessary corrections to help us play better next Sunday against Seattle. These games don’t get any easier. Seattle’s a tough team and they’ve been playing pretty well this season and the last home game we had we didn’t play well. So we’ve got to find a way to just get better as a team one play at a time, one day at a time and not worry about playoffs or anything like that.”

Bush and the rest of the players on the offensive side still have plenty of confidence in rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill in spite of his two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Philbin feels the same way and they all still see the same poise and work ethic that got the first-round draft pick through the early part of the season.

For Tannehill, his frustrations were visible at the podium during his postgame press conference as he shouldered responsibility for not being able to complete the comeback on his final two drives. Both of those drives ended with interceptions and he is eager to get back to work and join his teammates in trying to right the ship during this extended break.

“We have to really focus on the things we didn’t do well in this game, obviously watch the tape and be real with ourselves,” Tannehill said. “We have to be real about the things we haven’t done well lately and get better. There’s only one way to go. You’ve got to keep pressing on and it’s frustrating and tough because these are emotional losses for us, but you’ve got to keep pressing on. We’ve got six more games to play and we’ve got to take them one at a time, get better each day and not look back. Once we get over this, once we learn from our mistakes we can’t look back. We’ve got to keep pressing forward.”

As easy it would be to try and get creative between now and the Seattle game and shake things up in all facets, Philbin is preaching patience and exuding confidence in the systems already in place. These strategies worked in wins over the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams and New York Jets and in close losses to the Jets, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts.

So while the players and coaches acknowledge that something needs to change, Philbin isn’t about to abandon ship entirely with six games left. Two games against division leading New England and one more against Buffalo still remain on the schedule, so the division race is not over.

“I believe in what we’re doing,” Philbin said. “The schemes and when they come over the headset, the calls, I know what they are, I believe they’re sound. Obviously, I believe there are other coaches in this league that do a good job any given Sunday. So it really comes down to more execution. Certainly we will tweak some things and if we can find something better we’ll do it. However, collectively we have a good bit of experience in the league as a staff and I think we know things that can work in this league, and things that aren’t real sound and don’t work. So I don’t expect us to make wholesale scheme changes.”

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