« Martin/Incognito investigation tidbits, details; Fins, Heat, UM notes; Marlins contact free agents | Main | Dolphins, Canes, Heat tidbits: Coaching, bowl projections, LeBron »

Analysis, views and nauseating numbers from Dolphins' dismal stretch of fourth quarters

The Dolphins are 28th in the NFL in offense, which is quite galling considering the Dolphins spoke all offseason about being more explosive after spending more than $80 million on offensive player contracts in free agency.

The Dolphins, in fact, are the only team that hasn’t scored at least 28 points in a game.

But look closely at what this offense has done in the fourth quarter – or more specifically, what it hasn’t done – and it’s clear something is terribly wrong.

The Dolphins have had the ball for 23 offensive possessions in the fourth quarter of the past seven games. They haven’t scored a touchdown on any of them and have as many missed field goals during those possessions (three) as successful field goals (three).

How have the other drives ended? With 11 punts, three interceptions, a fumble and the clock expiring twice.

The Dolphins have scored only 40 points in the fourth quarter, a pace that leaves them in danger of setting the club record in that category, while allowing 56 points in the fourth. The franchise low for fourth-quarter points in a 16-game season is 57, set in 2001.

And consider this: The Dolphins have just four fourth-quarter touchdowns all season, and one of those was on defense (Reshad Jones’ interception return against Baltimore) and another happened in the Saints game long after the outcome had been decided.

That means the Dolphins offense has scored only two meaningful fourth-quarter touchdowns all season: one in the Cleveland opener to extend its lead to 20-10 and another to win the Falcons game in the final minute.

So why is the offense unraveling late?

Some factors:

### Leaky pass protection. In the past seven games, the Dolphins have allowed 17 sacks in the fourth quarter. Those plays have resulted in losses of 119 yards, but that doesn’t even begin to quantify the corrosive impact. Nearly all have been drive killers. One resulted in a Ryan Tannehill fumble that doomed the Dolphins in the Buffalo game.

During this seven-game stretch (during which Miami is 2-5), the Dolphins haven’t had a single game without allowing a fourth-quarter sack. There were two more in the Carolina game, resulting in 8- and 10-yard losses.

### Not running the ball enough. Factoring in sacks and scrambles by Tannehill, the Dolphins have gone into 98 fourth-quarter plays with the intention of passing during the past seven games. Conversely, they have intended to run the ball only 20 times.

Those 20 runs have resulted in 82 yards, a decent 4.1 average. In many cases, the Dolphins needed to throw because they were trailing and didn’t have a lot of time to score. But in several other instances, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman eschewed the run when it was a viable option.

During the fourth quarter Sunday, the Dolphins threw 12 times and called three running plays for backs, which resulted in gains of 2, 4 and 3 yards. But Tannehill accounted for runs of 19 and 11 yards by scrambling.

Perhaps Tannehill should run more in the fourth. During this seven-game stretch, his five fourth-quarter runs have yielded 57 yards.

### Problems with the passing game. Aside from his brilliant game-winning drive against Atlanta, Tannehill’s fourth-quarter work has been subpar statistically. Poor pass protection certainly has been a factor.

In the past seven games, Tannehill has completed only 48 percent of his fourth quarter passes (37 for 76) for 430 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions (two on long heaves to end the game).

Last season, he had an acceptable 83 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter, including six touchdowns and three picks. That ranked 23rd in the league.

This season, the rating is 61.7, with two touchdowns and five picks. The rating is 33rd among 44 quarterbacks who have played a snap this season.

### One positive for the Dolphins heading into Sunday’s Jets game: They’re playing against the quarterback who has been the league’s worst, statistically, over the past month.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said today that he will start Geno Smith against the Dolphins, even though he has five interceptions and a 16.2 rating in his past two games and has thrown has one touchdown and 10 picks in his last six.

Matt Simms is his backup.

### The Dolphins’ run defense continues to underwhelm. Carolina ran for 105 yards on 19 carries in the second half to close with 136 yards. In 11 games, eight teams have run for at least 130 yards against the Dolphins.

The Dolphins have allowed more than five yards per carry in the fourth quarter on average this season, and Mike Tolbert’s 15- and 5-yard runs were very damaging on Carolina’s final drive.

### Ted Wells, who is investigating Jonathan Martin’s allegations of bullying, plans to meet with Martin for a second interview sometime in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, ProFootballTalk.com reported that Wells also plans to interview Rams and former Dolphins offensive lineman Jake Long.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Flush that turd

Ryan Tannefail is horrible.

Fed up Fin Fan

I am so tired of this franchise. They won't be seeing a dollar of my hard owned cash until they clean house and right the ship. I am tired of wasting my Sundays's on this embarrassment of a professional team. In fact, I'll be cutting the grass and cleaning the pool next weekend at 1pm!

deez nuts

Tannehill sucks !

Protection First

Let me offer some protection for Tanny since the o line cant. Tannehill doesn't suck, we have a terrible o line and the offensive "weapons" around Tannehill don't offer any support either; lots of drops, no run game, and most sacks in the league (due to a very porous offensive line) would prove rather disastrous for any young qb. I actually think that Tannehill has been rather impressive and is doing pretty well all things considered. If we solidify that O line I think it would do wonders for this club. (Dont think we Should have ever gotten rid of Marshall or Long or Ochocinco or Bush but that's a different story and what's done is done).

rboud

Tannehill needs to trust his arm and throw the long pass freely. He's thinking too much and not just letting the throw go. He's made way too many poor deep throws. He's wasted many opportunities. Other than that, he's playing pretty well. No QB in the NFL faces constant pressure the way his O-Line allows it. As for the defense, they give up big play after big play on 3rd and 4th and long. That has to stop. Giving up the field goal before the half was inexcusable.

Master Chief

The Dolphins have had the ball for 23 offensive possessions in the fourth quarter of the past seven games. They haven’t scored a touchdown on any of them and have as many missed field goals during those possessions (three) as successful field goals (three).

How have the other drives ended? With 11 punts, three interceptions, a fumble and the clock

Wow Barry,

Those are some scary numbers. I have seen Tannehill live many times and he isn't the solution. Lock onto one receiver and just cannot throw a good deep pass.

Fred

I have seen enough to realize that our search for "the franchise QB" is ongoing. Tannehill will never amount to anything better than a journeyman. The sooner we realize this the better. No doubt the sacks have been a significant factor but how many overthrown/underthrown passes to wide open receivers do we have to see before we conclude this guy is a consistently inaccurate passer? His lack of consistency is the number one reason why the offense is incapable of sustaining drives. How many points are being left on the field every week? I don't believe you can teach a QB to be consistently accurate, it is innate. The sample size is sufficient to realize he doesn't have it.

D-Rod

Barry,
What is plainly obvious to me is R. Tannehill has been playing injured for many weeks now. It pains me to see game analysts and then not even local media, reviewing either replays of plays during the game itself, or watching a DVR'd replay of the game.
In 2 back to back games, you clearly see Tannehill getting pummeled at the worst point that a QB can, while his arm is fully exposed going back readying to release, and a rushing lineman completely jams the arm back and into him and the ground during the motion.
You could see clearly he has/was hurt, yet stayed in the game ( I believe he came off the field but it was a 4th down or change of possession), and missed only a practice or 2, and has made no mention or issue of it (the Dolphin code of silence way). I will bet anyone, that at years end you will hear more about his unreported injury to his throwing arm/shoulder. He has a cannon for an arm, and you can see his velocity, distance, and out route proficiency is not what it was earlier in the year.
Without a viable NFL O-Line, he nor any other QB will perform well. Specially one only 46 (college and pro), games into his QB career.

Mr. Titman

I believe it is big joke time. The Dolphins will make the playoffs,NOT. The Dolphins will win more than two more games this year,NOT. They will be real lucky to win one more game. I am sick of this whole franchise,top to bottom. Who exactly is left on this years schdule that they can beat? Steelers in Pittsbrgh? Patriots? Bills in Buffalo? Oh,maybe the stinkin Jets? The is another 610/7-9 season,period!!!

Cual?

D-Rod, sounds like you're stretching pretty hard for an excuse, Tannehill missed part of one Wednesday practice back in September. That's it.

TK SWANN

ONE OF THE REASONS DOLPHINS HAVE NOT SCORED MORE OR WHY TANNEHILL HASN'T PERFORMED WELL IS BECAUSE HE NEVER MASTERED THROWING THE DEEP BALL..WHY HASN'T SHERMAN GIVEN MOORE A SERIES OR TWO TO AT LEAST GET THE NALL DOWN FIELD. FORGET TANNEHILL 'S MIND SET HE IS THE STARTER BUT NOTHING IS WRONG WITH SITTING JUST TO GET THE OFFENSE MOVING FOR HIM TO LEARN HOW HE WILL ATTACK WHEN HE RETURNS.. DON'T GET ME WRONG TANNEHILL HAS IMPROVED AND CONSIDERING HE HAS THE WORST OL IN THE LEAGUE HE HAS DONE WONDERFUL BUT NOW THE TEAM NEEDS TO GO 4-1 OR 5-0 TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AND I STILL THINK THEY CAN DO IT BUT THEY NEED TANNEHILL AND WALLACE TO CONTINUE TO HOOKUP DEEP AND MILLER/THOMAS NEEDS TO RUSH FOR OVER 100 YDS COMBINED IN EACH GAME AND THE DEFENSE NEEDS TO STOP THE RUN.. NO MORE WALLACE TALK BECAUSE THE PROBLEM IS TANNEHILL/SHERMAN AND THE OL, THIS IS HURTING HARTLINE ALSO..

Andrew Stolze

SInce it's really just venting frustration here goes..

Jets game - will lose, because Wilkerson will kill however plays center this week. And I'm sorry but Pouncey any nothing to get worked up about as he gets beat about 5-8 times a game at the point of attack. And because Sparano I mean Sherman is a dope.

Tannehill - has no zip on the ball whether its short or long he seems to be floating the ball. Reason one he fails to step into the throw, especially on short passes he uses just his arm.

Sherman / Philibin - this we can't or won't play rookies is absolutely ridiculous. Patterson has been hurt for what 7 weeks and Taylor / Davis haven't even smelled the field. The O-line is in shambles and Thomas can't get on the field, really ? I'm starting to think Egnews problems were Shermans not his.

Coyle - Elelrbee, Wheeler and Jones were all given money to make plays ? Anyone seen them..anyone ? Starks is 10X better than Odrick so why is that bust still playing in the rotation ? You don't draft a guy with the 3rd pick to have him play 20 plays a game, there is no excuse for that.

Team Culture - 15 years of mediocrity has created an aura where 20 points is a victory. When was the last time we scored 40 points ? How do you dominate a team for 4.5 quarters and then let them march down the field in the last 5 mins like they are unstoppable ?

The comments to this entry are closed.