TIME TO HOLD THE LINE

Turnovers obviously has been the Dolphins' biggest problem in their last two games, but it's not the only reason the offense has managed only one touchdown in each outing.

The truth is, the offensive line simply has not gotten the job done and that has shown up in the running game as well as the passing game.

Ricky Williams was able to rush for 97 yards against Buffalo, but he averaged less than 4 yards per carry. Against Green Bay, Williams also didn't have much of a chance and he finished with only 47 yards on 14 carries.

The pass protection also has been weak, with Lucas getting constant pressure since taking over for Jay Fiedler at quarterback.

The Dolphins are hoping of starting left tackle Mark Dixon can make a big difference this Sunday night against the Jets.

Dixon has missed the last four games because of a high ankle sprain, but he has practiced all week and he is on schedule to play against the Jets.

He represents a major upgrade over Marcus Spriggs, who played well in place of Dixon in the games against New England and Denver but struggled badly against Buffalo and Green Bay.

Wannstedt, though, refused to put the blame for the offensive line performance in the last two games solely on Spriggs.

"He had some problems at times with their speed pass rusher," Wannstedt said about the Green Bay game. "We weren't consistent enough with the entire group up front. So I'm not going to stand here and say if one guy would have played better it would have made a difference."

One of the problems the Dolphins are facing in the running game is defenses that are daring Miami to beat them with the passing game.

With the way Lucas has struggled in his two starts, that hasn't happened very often.

"Obviously, without Jay in there right now, they're going to force you to throw the football more so than what they did early in the year," Wannstedt said. "We were making more plays in the passing game, we weren't making many mistakes. That would be the No. 1 thing. The second thing, we've got to get better giving Ricky a chance. Those 2-yard runs, a lot of them need to be 4-yard runs. I'm not talking about the 50-yard run. That doesn't happen very often in this league. But I'm talking about being more consistent with the 3- and 4-yard runs."

If the Dolphins don't get those, the pressure will continue to fall on Lucas' shoulders, and that hasn't been a winning formula.

So you can see the big guys up front have a big task ahead of them.


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