Top News: Red Hot In The Red Zone

The Dolphins have become red hot in the red zone.

In fact, no team has been better in that statistical category since the Dolphins came back from their bye in Week 6.

After being 1-for-6 in the red zone in their first four games, the Dolphins have scored touchdowns on 20 of their 25 red-zone opportunities since that Washington game Oct. 13.

They had their best showing in that category against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday when they went 4-for-4. Before that, they were 2-for-2 against Washington, 3-for-4 at Buffalo, 2-for-2 at Pittsburgh, 3-for-4 against the Jets, 1-for-2 against the Colts, 2-for-3 in the rematch against the Bills, and 3-for-4 against Cleveland.

That 80 percent success rate is the best in the NFL over the past eight weeks, topping the 78.9 posted by the Tennessee Titans.

With that strong showing over the past eight weeks, the Dolphins have gone from worst to almost first in the NFL in red zone efficiency. Their 67.7 success rate on the season ranks fourth behind only the Titans, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

"It's been an area that we've really prided ourselves in and we've had success this year statistically in the red zone and we've made improvements," offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea said Tuesday. "I think in our bye week, I think we were dead last or near the bottom of the league in red zone and now we've gone up statistically quite a bit in that area. I think, again, that's because of the players' preparation and embracing what we're trying to do from a scheme standpoint. I think it's a mentality when we get the ball in the red zone, we want to be aggressive. And Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) has a lot to do with our success in the red zone as well."

Since Oct. 13, Fitzpatrick has a 103.4 passer rating in the red zone, his 11 red zone TD passes are tied for second in the NFL behind Kirk Cousins' 12, and his 203 passing yards leads the league.

O'Shea said the key to the red zone success is pretty simple.

"I think that it takes all 11," he said. "I know a lot of the time the offensive line, the spotlight is on them in the run game, in the pass protection, but there's certainly other people that are involved in both of those areas. I think it's important that our skill players and our quarterback know we need to play on time in the pass game and that has a lot to do with them running the correct routes or having the correct route detail.

"Fitz certainly has to be very decisive with his reads and go to the right guy on time. I think that in the pass game, a lot of those things have to be right to be successful. In the run game, there's all 11 it takes in that too. It takes the correct communication from Fitz to the offensive line, the correct combination of blocks, the correct technique. There's been improvement in a lot of those areas that I think have really allowed us to have more consistency."

Six degrees of Crossman

Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman revealed Tuesday how he first became interested in his specialty and he said it dated back to his days at the University of Pittsburgh.

He added that it came from his special teams coach at the time, Scott O'Brien. That would be the same Scott O'Brien, who went to have several roles in the NFL, including two years at coordinator of football operations and assistant to the head coach for the Dolphins in 2005-06 during Nick Saban's tenure in Miami.

Crossman said his relationship with Head Coach Brian Flores began about a decade ago when he coached the special teams of the Carolina Panthers and Flores worked with that same group in New England.

College star

Running back Zach Zenner, who was among two players the Dolphins claimed off waivers Tuesday, has his name in the NCAA record book as the only college player with three consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons.

Zenner accomplished the feat from 2012-14 at South Dakota State, the only Division I school to offer him a scholarship. After going undrafted in 2015, he has played 40 games with six starts in the NFL with Detroit, New Orleans and Arizona.

The other player claimed Tuesday was wide receiver Trevor Davis, who has played 40 games with four starts with Green Bay and Oakland after being a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2016.

To make room for Davis and Zenner, the Dolphins placed running back Kalen Ballage on injured reserve and waived rookie safety Montre Hartage, who made his NFL debut against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Practice squad moves

The Dolphins re-signed cornerback Xavien Crawford to the practice squad Tuesday.

He filled the opening created when Hartage was promoted from the practice squad Saturday.

Crawford appeared in one game for the Dolphins this season after being claimed off waivers from the Houston Texans.

The other members of the practice squad include LB Jake Carlock, LB Terrill Hanks, DT Frank Herron, WR Andy Jones, TE Chris Myarick, T Chidi Okeke, DT Durval Queiroz Neto, WR T.J. Rahming, QB Jake Rudock and WR Terry Wright.

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