The Miami Dolphins are one of the NFL's most peculiar teams. If anything, they are the epitome of what happens when you mix talent with a lack of a coaching staff. The result? Four straight years of mediocrity. Currently sitting at 5-7, the Miami Dolphins are likely to finish the season with a 7-9, 8-8 or at best 9-7 (which seems all but impossible at this point).
This led to me to want to do a statistical breakdown of where the Miami Dolphins rank in all three phases of the game.
So... let's dive right in.
TOTAL OFFENSE: NFL RANK - 29th
This should come as no surprise to Dolphins fans. It is essentially why the team has struggled to win games. Their 326.2 yards per game this season are only just better than the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Aside from the Vikings, who's defense prevents them from needing to score a ton of points, the Dolphins are among the worst company in the NFL offensive. Part of this undoubtedly comes from the fact that they are on their second head coach and second offensive coordinator for the year. That lack of consistency, among a lack of consistency at the Offensive Line and yes even at the quarterback position with Ryan Tannehill, is enough to hinder an offense.
The most untelling offensive stat for the Dolphins? They rank in the top 5 in the league with 4.7 yards per rush. That's a good thing right? Not when the Dolphins have run the ball the fewest amount of times in the league (244 attempts). When Lamar Miller gets at least 13 rushes in a game, the Dolphins are 5-0 this season. When they don't, they are 0-7. You'd think someone would take note of this, and in Dan Campbell's defense, he did last week, which is why we saw new OC Zac Taylor dial up so many running plays.
In the passing game, it has been a year of regression for Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins, who currently rank 22nd in the NFL in passing with a feeble 231 yards a game. I will be writing a completely separate article on Ryan Tannehill as the prodigal savior at the QB position for the Dolphins so stay tuned. But that being said, I don't think it is fair to blame all of the offensive woes in the passing game on Tannehill, who has only been able to audible for one game now. He was downright awful against the Ravens, but also threw a beautiful deep ball to rookie DeVante Parker for a long score. The jury is still out on Tannehill, but it comes as no surprise that the Dolphins' offense sits at the bottom of the league giving their anemic passing attack.
TOTAL DEFENSE: NFL RANK - 22nd
To me, the defense has even more holes in it than the offense. Other than the O-Line (and whether or not you believe in RT17), the offense is a few draft picks and additions away from playoff calibur. It is the defense that has holes everywhere, sometimes literally. At LB, we have seen the Dolphins attempt to string together a unit, but this has been the team's worst unit on the field at almost every single moment this year. Kelvin Sheppard is actually playing at a high level considering his past, but even his highest level is not good enough to save this team. Say what you want about Jelani Jenkins' play this season, but he's been battling injuries all year and to me has not looked that bad at all considering his ailments. The biggest disappointment for me this year was Chris McCain, who has been demoted from playing at all. I thought he had real potential to step in and become a starter, but the Dolphins' staff must have seen something I didn't, as McCain has been nowhere to be found.
The Dolphins rank 30th in rush defense, and as you may have heard, Ndamukong Suh can't do it all on his own. Suh is actually playing at an incredible level if you watch closely, as he is double-teamed nearly every play and still makes plays. Losing Cameron Wake was a huge loss, as he was starting to play at his usual Pro Bowl level when he was lost for the year. To me, Jordan Phillips has been a bright spot for this young defensive line, as he as really stepped up this year and has earned a starting position over Earl Mitchell.
The secondary is also completely depleted, and you have to wonder if Brent Grimes has lost a step or twelve. He got down right dominated by Brandon Marshall and Sammy Watkins in back to back weeks. It doesn't help that he has no help opposite of him, as Jamar Taylor has turned into the next Miami Dolphins' CB drafted in the top two rounds to be a bust. Rookie Bobby McCain has the potential to be a starter down the road, but is still battling learning curves right now. The Dolphins currently rank 22nd in passing defense, and a large part of that is thanks to the Pro Bowl play of Reshad Jones, who is currently a Top 5 safety in the league and has almost scored as many TD's as some Dolphins' offensive players.
In my opinion, Andrew Franks has done a fine job as Miami's new kicker, especially as a rookie and especially compared to the curse that was Caleb Sturgis. Franks is just 8 of 10 on the year, and his 8 makes and 10 attempts are the fewest in the league. A lot of that has come from Miami's weak offense, as they just aren't seeing as many red zone possessions as in years past. Franks does need to work on his extra points, as he has missed three on the season, and is 26/29 overall.
Franks has done a fantastic job on kickoffs, with 31 touchbacks out of 49 kicks and not a single kickoff returned for a TD. He looks to be Miami's franchise kicker for years to come, and is one of the positive effects Joe Philbin had on this team before he was fired.
As for punting, Matt Darr honestly might be my top pick for team MVP this season. He's certainly been one of Miami's most consistent players. Darr currently ranks 3rd in the league with a ridiculous 47.6 yard average per punt. He's top 10 with 22 punts inside the 20, and his long of 70 yards is tied for fourth. Darr is perhaps most famous for his unnecesary roughness call against the Cowboys just a few weeks ago. The kid is tough, and plays like it.