Complementary football has helped the Dolphins string together three-consecutive wins heading into a three-game home stand -- with a bye week sandwiched in between -- as the calendar approaches December.
In the second half of Sunday's win over the Jets, the offense found it's rhythm and a complementary method of attack within the unit. Long methodical drives, explosive plays, red zone execution, run game and pass game, the Dolphins had it all working coming out of the locker room.
Miami's 115 rushing yards were the third-most this season and the most in a winning effort. As a result, the play-action game was cranking as it produced 201 yards on 15-of-17 completions, per Pro Football Focus.
"When you're running the ball effectively, that changes the defense's mentality a little bit and makes them have to obviously honor that and maybe bring another defender down into the box," Co-OC Eric Studesville said. "Again, everything that we do, we try to make sure there is a complement for it – run, pass, play-action, RPO potentially. We're trying to always match things up to put someone in conflict somewhere on the defense as much as possible."
Of those 201 yards, 65 came on one pass to Mack Hollins from Tua Tagovailoa, the longest completion and reception in the career of both players. Hollins has a career-best three touchdowns this season and is on track to surpass his high-water marks in receptions (16 last year, 12 this season) and receiving yards (226 his rookie season in 2017, 178 this year).
"(Mack) brings great energy every day," Studesville said. "That's the one thing about Mack, he's got energy every day in the meetings, in the building, on the practice field and who he is. That's his personality. That energy I think is also channeled in the right direction in his preparation and his effort on the practice field and what he's doing. Again, that's preparing him for opportunities that have presented themselves to him."
The aggressiveness to attack down the field provided a big touchdown, which was ultimately the difference in a 24-17 victory. The Dolphins operate through an aggressive philosophy, according to Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer, the play-caller for a defense that ranks second in the NFL in blitz rate (34.9 percent, behind Tampa Bay at 36.5 percent).
"One, it's a philosophy thing," Boyer said. "I think Coach Flores has hit this point many times, whether it's in the kicking game, offensively or defensively, we're going to be aggressive. I think you're always looking for spots when you feel it's best to do and when it's advantageous for us as a defense and when it coincides with putting your players in position to succeed. It's one of those things, do I sit back or go after them? I think there is always a good mixture, but I just think from a philosophical standpoint that we tend to be a little bit aggressive."
The Dolphins helped seal the victory by taking a two-score lead with less than two minutes to play on a 24-yard field goal from Jason Sanders. It was a redeeming kick for Sanders who missed from 32 yards earlier in the game, only the third miss in his career from under 40 yards.
"Obviously we have complete confidence in Jason, first and foremost," Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman said. "But as you know in this profession, and especially in that job, it's a fine line between being successful and not being successful. That's twice now that at the end of the half we've banged them off the upright. Again, we have complete confidence in him. It's small things. We'll keep working and Jason will be fine."
Up next, the Carolina Panthers, who boast the top passing defense in the NFL and a dangerous run game with QB Cam Newton added to the roster and RB Christian McCaffrey back in the lineup after injury. Boyer broke down the challenges of a running quarterback and Miami's recent run against mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Tyrod Taylor.
"I would say the similarities are they definitely have the quarterback runs that Baltimore has," Boyer said. "There is a little bit of a different flavor to it. All three of the backs that Carolina has used are dynamic players, headlining that with (Christian) McCaffrey. But (Chuba) Hubbard and (Ameer) Abdullah, those guys have all made explosive plays as well in the run game. It's just a matter of how they choose to play. They have some – call it normal runs. And they also have their quarterback runs that they can implement, which they've implemented a little bit more in the past two weeks with P.J Walker and Cam Newton at quarterback. But they've run some of that stuff earlier in the season with (Sam) Darnold too, so it's not foreign to them."