Twenty Dolphins notes on a Monday afternoon:
### One of the puzzling stats of the year: The Dolphins have outscored teams 120-41 in the third quarter but been outscored 82-54 in the fourth.
The Dolphins won several close games last season but all six of their wins this year have been by double figures.
“At some point in time, we have to be able to [win close games],” Joe Philbin said of a team that has squandered fourth-quarter leads in its last three losses. “You look at the last three losses, by three, four and three, we have to find a way to win some of those games. We have to do better. We’re going to be in more of those games.”
### Further tests on Jamar Taylor’s separated shoulder indicated there was no structural damage. Taylor not only doesn’t expect to miss the rest of the season but hopes to return quickly. But the Dolphins probably will be cautious and not rush him back. He could miss a week or two, but that’s undetermined.
Cortland Finnegan could return this week from an ankle injury but that remains to be seen, as well.
### Ja’Wuan James, who played just 22 of Miami’s 62 snaps, said he could have come back from a stinger and played in the second half Sunday. But the Dolphins didn't believe he would have enough strength.
### Philbin, sounding like Al Golden, said twice today: “It starts with me.” In this case, he was referring to defensive fundamentals, which he said the “head coach is responsible for.”
Said Philbin: “I don’t think our fundamentals were where they need to be…. There are things we have to get better at. That’s my job.”
### Philbin, on the tackling: “I thought it would be better. It wasn’t up to our standards.”
Said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle: “It’s disappointing. We pride ourselves on being a good fundamental team and we work on it. We did not tackle well. It’s not acceptable.”
### Coyle’s defensive overview: “I never felt we were in control of it on defense because we didn’t stop them. I wasn’t feeling even at halftime, they had 65 yards rushing at halftime. I didn’t put us in the greatest defense [to stop on a 25-yard run]. [But] I didn’t think they were running it down our throats [in the first half].
“We weren’t as physical as we normally are at the point of attack. There have been games we’ve played well and games that stand out that we didn’t play well down the stretch. Our inability to make a play in crunch time really hurt us. At times, you can isolate one area. There are a lot of things we’ve done well.”
Coyle said there were five or six key plays and the Dolphins “didn’t make any of them.”
### Incredibly, the Dolphins had just one quarterback hurry Sunday (by Jared Odrick). Jelani Jenkins was credited for a sack on Peyton Manning, who fell without contact.
Coyle said part of the reason was that Manning “gets the ball out quick” and only nine of his 35 pass attempts were downfield throws.
Nevertheless, “we weren’t very successful rushing the quarterback,” Coyle said. “What happened a couple times was we had maximum coverages that we felt might be the answer to the passing game they were utilizing. We weren’t on point with some of our coverages.”
Coyle said the Dolphins intended to rush more than two on the big completion against Taylor late in the first half, on a 3rd on 20, but couldn’t because Manning got the play off before the Dolphins could substitute.
“It was unusual in that he was hurrying them back to the line and was trying to get us into a substitution,” he said.
### The Dolphins run defense, which entered ranked eighth in the league, was pulverized for 201 yards (5.7 per carry) against a Denver team that entered ranked 31st in rushing.
“They were trying to make a statement,” Coyle said. “They challenged their guys going into the game. They came in there with that idea. We thought they were going to do that. I am disappointed we didn’t do a better job against it. We didn’t play great fundamental football, which has been our trademark since we’ve been here. I’m not really sure totally why.”
### Of the injuries in the secondary, Coyle said: “It’s a challenge. When you are putting people in the first time, it’s a tough spot to be. Playing corner in the NFL is as difficult a spot you can be in competitive sports. I don’t think that was the reason [we lost]. Hopefully, we’ll get some guys back.”
### Philbin said Ryan Tannehill’s play was “good overall. He did some good things.”
But… “In that type of game, we have to answer blow for blow,” Philbin said. “We threw an interception” on a tip.
### Among quarterbacks currently starting, Tannehill has risen to 10th in passer rating, at 93.4.
“Ryan is getting better,” Bill Lazor said. “He’s playing with control. I have a lot of confidence he’s only going to get better.”
Where he has most improved? “I like the way his demeanor is," Lazor said. "He’s intense about his job but when it comes to the passing game, I feel the game getting to be a speed --- the way he is handling himself on the field” is impressive.
### Lazor doesn’t blame Tannehill at all for the tipped ball interception.
“That kind of game – there is low margin for error and we have to find a way to avoid those mistakes,” Lazor said.
### On the offensive line play, Lazor said: “Pass protection in the red zone was very good. Dallas Thomas continues to improve. Not perfect but played better as the game went on; best game run-blocking that he had. Jason Fox held his own.”
He said left guard snaps were split because Daryn Colledge was coming back from injury and Shelley Smith “has earned playing time.”
### Lazor loves how Jarvis Landry has developed but said “there were a couple times I felt Jarvis could have used technique to get open in tight coverage.”
### LaMichael James, making his Dolphins debut, played four snaps and carried twice (for four yards). Philbin said James played because “we saw some good things out of him” in practice.
### Philbin said the Dolphins used Dion Jordan once at tight end --- the Broncos called time out before the play was run --- because we’re “trying to use everyone we can to score points… It was something we’ve been working on for a little bit of time.”
### Philbin said the odd-looking onside kick --- in which Caleb Sturgis contorts his body and kicks the opposite direction than many would expect --- has worked in practice. “We’ve been practicing that type of kick for a year and a half.”
### Notable offensive snap count tidbits from Sunday: Jarvis Landry and Mike Wallace played the most among receivers (46 apiece). Brian Hartline had 43, Brandon Gibson 35 and Rishard Matthews 20…. Lamar Miller had 40 snaps, Daniel Thomas 15, James four and Damien Williams three… Daryn Colledge played 36 snaps at left guard, while Shelley Smith played 26.
### Notable defensive snap count tidbits from Sunday: Taylor played 49 snaps before leaving with an injury. Lowell Rose, who was in the Arena League last year, logged 13 and rookie Walt Aikens nine… Brent Grimes, Reshad Jones, Louis Delmas and Jelani Jenkins played all 75 snaps… Cam Wake played 55, sitting out 20 snaps. Dion Jordan played 21 snaps… Philip Wheeler’s limited playing time continued (16 snaps).
### Pro Football Focus gave its worst defensive grades to Randy Starks (sealed off on Denver’s go-ahead TD run), Jenkins (allowed all six passes thrown against him to be caught for 84 yards and a touchdown). Delmas missed three tackles.
Offensively, PFF gave its worst grade to Dallas Thomas, who allowed four hurries and one hit.
### CBS' 4:25 p.m. games (Dolphins-Broncos went to most of the country) were its second-highest rated window all season, behind a Broncos-Patriots games. In major market overnight ratings, CBS' 4:25 p.m. games yesterday comfortably outdrew Cowboys-Giants on Sunday night on NBC.