AC In The AM: Plenty To Focus On In Practice This Week

With 10 games now in the books, with plenty to address after the loss to the Bills and with the Browns up next in Cleveland, we offer our weekly Tuesday morning dose of perspective:

  • Three phases. You usually have to win two of the three to have success in this league. The Dolphins won special teams against the Bills, but lost on offense and defense. That won’t cut it. We’ve seen this team’s recipe for success. Now the challenge is regrouping and finding that formula again. This has proven to be a resilient team and certainly a resilient coaching staff. I expect the Dolphins to play much better against the Browns. They certainly need to.
  • Coach Brian Flores held his day after press conference Monday afternoon and it was clear how displeased he was with the overall performance of his team. “We didn’t execute across the board,” he said. As for some of the individuals that were productive, Flores preferred to look at the big picture. “We’re looking for a team effort,” he said. As always, Flores stressed quickly moving on from the loss to the Bills. “Got to turn the page,” he said.
  • The biggest concern at this moment has to be a rushing attack that hasn’t produced. It’s easy to blame Kalen Ballage who is averaging less than two yards a carry and he certainly deserves his share. But how many holes did he have? How many times was he hit as he first touched the ball? It’s the entire rushing attack, blocking and running, that needs careful scrutiny and I’m sure will get it this week. “We’ve got to find a better way to do that,” Flores said. “That’s everybody: O-line, tight ends, backs, receivers and the quarterback getting us into good plays.”
  • The rushing defense hasn’t been very good either, the Bills averaging 4.9 yards on 34 carries. “To me, it’s all about toughness,” said defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. “If you want to be tough, stop the run. If you don’t, then get out of the game.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
  • Isn’t it time we recognize what wide receiver DeVante Parker has done this season? One or two games are nice. But Parker has been consistently productive all season and had the best game against the Bills, with 7 catches for 135 yards. The brain trust of this team gambled on Parker in its decision to bring him back. That gamble has clearly paid off.
  • I recently walked by Jakeem Grant’s locker and wondered in his direction how close he was to breaking a long one. “Going to come soon,” he said. “Real soon.” Well, real soon turned out to be Sunday and his 101-yard kickoff return reminded us of his rare athletic abilities and further validated the team’s decision to extend his contract heading into this season. Grant is a game-breaker in his prime, his value to this team unquestionable. “It was just an unbelievable moment just to show people I can still take it back to the house,” Grant said. 
  • A week ago Jason Sanders got our attention with three long distance field goals that helped beat the Colts. Sunday he did it again, but this time with an up-the-gut onside kick that he recovered himself. If what he pulled off against the Bills on that kickoff were easy, you’d see it happening a lot more. Over the past two weeks, Sanders has raised his game, further solidifying his role moving forward.
  • No, Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t have one of his best games, but it’s hard to succeed from the seat of your pants. I’ll say this about Fitzpatrick. He is one tough hombre. He was sacked seven times, a few of them a pretty good pounding. But each time he popped right up, ready for the next play. Fitzpatrick will turn 37 next Sunday. It’s remarkable how resilient he is.
  • The Dolphins remain among the least penalized teams in the league and by now it is clear that this is part of their DNA. Over nine straight games now they have had six or fewer penalties and 55 or fewer penalty yards. It says plenty about the impact this coaching staff has had.
  • The missed tackles remain a concern. There were several deep in the secondary against the Bills that resulted in touchdowns.
  • And now we turn our attention to the Browns, and one of the most imposing challenges of the season for this Dolphins defense, going up against some of the league’s elite playmakers in wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Who do you key on? Who don’t you key on? No doubt the Dolphins have a lot of preparing to do.

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