Adam Gase and Vance Joseph sat down late Sunday evening and watched tape of the Dolphins defense against Cleveland, and as they talked, they got this feeling that they have the same problem. That's right, the team's top offensive coach (Gase) and top defensive coach (Joseph) have more or less the same problem.
And that problem is everybody on their units are taking a turn stinking.
“We need to be on the details," Gase said when asked about the run defense that is today 32nd in the NFL, one day after giving up 169 rushing yards to the Cleveland Browns.
"Sitting there with Vance last night, we were watching it and understanding. We keep talking … It’s almost like mirror images of each other as far as offense and defense on certain things on offense compared to defense. When we talk about stuff, I feel like we’re both saying the same things on different sides of the ball. If we can clean up the little detailed things of doing your assignments -- staying in your gap, making sure that we’re fitting everything right.
"Give us a chance to actually evaluate the scheme before we say, ‘We’ve got to do something different.’ If we do things right to start with, that’s going to give us our best chance to evaluate it and understand if we’re good or if we’re not good. Right now, I would say we’re not doing it well enough to say, ‘We need to move away from the scheme,’ or, ‘We need to do something different.’ If we can clean up some of these little tiny details, it would stop all these bigger runs that are happening. Instead of having nine-yard runs, it would probably be a two- or a one-yard run if we would get our fits a little better."
On defense, the Dolphins are having an issue they had some problems with last year. Some unnamed defensive linemen are freelancing.
"We had a rough go this last game, for sure," Gase said. "We’ve got to clean a lot of things up. It just seems like one person is taking their turn. It’s a new guy every play and we just have to kind of get back to basics and we have to get back to some of our fundamentals of being very gap sound (and) making sure everybody’s doing their job.
"We can’t have anybody freelancing. That’s a bad mix for a defense as far as if one guy is off in his zone, it kind of throws the linebackers off. Now all of a sudden our fits are wrong and that’s when you’re getting these 8-, 10-, 12-yard runs. The biggest thing, at least in my experience, is when you play a defense that is tough to run the ball against – they’re very sound, they tackle well – and really it’s that group, that seven or eight guys that are working together to make sure that everybody is doing their job correctly."
Gase, who is the team's offensive play caller, is also frustrated with his offense.
The offense he installed is not taking. Said another way, everybody gets it but because everyone is new to the system, there are mistakes. And it's not always the same guy making the mistake. And the mistakes obviously come on different plays.
So different guys making mistakes on multiple plays.
“I think right now, the stage we’re at is really getting comfortable with the offense," Gase said. "There are some moving parts that occur from week to week. It’s easy to say, ‘Should development occur quicker?’ But when you’re counting on 10 other guys to do their job in a first-year system, we’re going to have our bumps, and we’re going to have our missteps just like (in) this last game.
"Everybody was taking their turn. But as far as [quarterback Ryan Tannehill] coming along as a passer, making decisions – things like that – I feel like I’ve seen a guy that has gotten better from the time I’ve gotten here in the spring.
"I see a guy that really wants to work at it and make sure that he’s part of the solution. We’re going to keep developing. That’s what we have to do. We’ve come out of the gate and out of our (first) four opponents, three of them were in the playoffs last year. It’s a good measuring stick for us to at least see where we’re really at."
The Dolphins offense right now is an unbalanced attack. The Dolphins are 10th in the NFL in passing and 25th running the football. Yes, yes, yes, running the ball the first two games was not going to happen based on the opponent and the game situations. The 30-24 win over Cleveland presented a more balanced attack in which Miami gained 115 rushing yards.
Still, much improvement is needed because the Dolphins are tied for 20th in the NFL in points per game and that's the money statistic. That 21.3 points per game average must climb if this team is going to be relevant in 2016.
One area that you might see improvement this week?
Are you ready?
The tight end position.
Starter Jordan Cameron is out with a concussion so the Dolphins will thrust Dion Sims into a bigger role than normal. That means the Dolphins are effectively subtracting a better threat in the passing game while adding a better run and pass blocker.
Except in this case the switch is not equal. Although Cameron is better in the passing game, he hasn't been producing like it on a consistent basis. Sims is consistently a good blocker.
So, in my view, the Dolphins are exchanging an inconsistent pass game threat for a more consistent blocker. I would argue that is an upgrade.