Miami Dolphins: Miami Dolphins

Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Monday from around the Web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes the Dolphins’ defense struggles against great teams.
Morning take: Miami’s defense has good statistics. But it failed to hold the lead in crucial moments this season, including Sunday’s 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins’ defense is very good but not elite.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel writes the Dolphins can play with playoff contenders but can’t beat them.
Morning take: Miami’s three late losses to Denver, Detroit and Green Bay show how close the team is. But the Dolphins have to win those share of games to be a contender.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor could miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Morning take: Taylor could not finish the game and will be checked out Monday. Miami’s secondary is thin.
  • Nate Scott of the USA Today writes the Dolphins failed on the coolest of onside kicks.
Morning take: Kicker Caleb Sturgis got creative with his onside kick, but it didn’t come close to working. That’s really what matters.
DENVER -- It was a rough outing from the beginning for Miami Dolphins nickel corner Jimmy Wilson in Sunday's 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Wilson
On Denver's opening drive Wilson earned a costly 15-yard personal foul penalty on a head butt with Denver receiver Emmanuel Sanders. That led to an early Denver field goal.

Wilson would later have two additional penalties: A horse-collar tackle in the second quarter and a defensive holding call in the fourth. Both penalties contributed to touchdown drives by the Broncos.

"You guys just go watch the first series on your own, and you tell me if they're calling this thing right," Wilson said. "But it is what it is. Even with the calls that maybe didn't go our way, we were still in position to win the game and can't blame it on the refs for losing an 11-point lead."

Wilson hinted that he disagrees with the first of three penalties. There was some jawing between Sanders and Wilson, things got physical and the refs flagged Wilson.

Still, Wilson account for three of Miami's six penalties. That is too many penalties for one player.

It also did not help that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning carved up Miami's secondary for 257 yards and four touchdown passes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was a perfect 22-of-22 passing on attempts of 5 yards or fewer. Denver was patient against Miami and that led to the Dolphins allowing a season-high 39 points, including 22 in the fourth quarter.

Miami's last three losses against Denver, the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers have come by a combined 10 points. These games could have gone a long way for the Dolphins (6-5) in a tight playoff race in the AFC.

"It's bad because we've done it three times now against these great quarterbacks," Wilson said. "It's all about execution and making the right plays."
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DENVER -- Cameron Wake has been here before.

The Miami Dolphins' Pro Bowl defensive end was the last player to leave a disappointed locker room following a 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos. Wake has suffered through five consecutive nonplayoff seasons in Miami -- and a trend has emerged in Year 6 that could extend that streak:

The Dolphins don't deliver in the clutch. They don't close out tight games.

On Sunday, they blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter by allowing Denver to score 22 straight points. Miami also gave up last-minute touchdowns in losses to Green Bay and Detroit. The Dolphins lost these three games by a total of 10 points, and it's the difference in Miami between 6-5 and 9-2.

"This isn't the NCAA. This is the NFL -- everybody is the best at what they do," Wake said. "We have three plays to have three wins -- literally. ... It's tough. But that's the kind of thing you sign up for when you play in this league."

Miami held 11-point leads at three different spots in Sunday's game. It jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the second quarter, a 21-10 lead in the third quarter and took a 28-17 lead into the fourth quarter. But it failed to blow the game open on each occasion against a quality Broncos team.

Denver (8-3), the Super Bowl runner-up and reigning AFC champion, honed in during the fourth quarter and produced three straight touchdown drives. That is when a championship contender brings its best effort, and the Dolphins failed to answer.

Denver rushed for 201 yards and Peyton Manning, who threw for four touchdowns, chipped away at the Dolphins' defense with a short and accurate passing game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was an astounding 22-for-22 with three touchdowns on passes of 5 yards or fewer. It was the most completions by a quarterback on short throws in the past nine seasons.

The Dolphins hadn't allowed 22 points in a quarter all season, and the 39 total points also were a season worst for their defense.

"It's a game of momentum," Dolphins safety Jimmy Wilson said. "Once a team gets momentum, it's hard to stop guys. They make a big play here or there and get a big third down here or there that breaks your back. We just got to be better."

The Dolphins are comfortable in blowouts. Their average margin of victory in six wins this year is 19 points. But in the close, one-possession games such as Sunday's, they get tight and falter down the stretch. They aren't making those crucial plays in the biggest spots of their season, and that's an area where this team must grow to get to the next level.

"Even with the way things went, it still came down to one play," Wake said. "And that play could have been anywhere spread out throughout the entire game. One sack-fumble, one more first down or a kickoff return. Three points -- you can probably find that somewhere throughout the course of the game."
DENVER -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Offense comes together: Miami's offense played its best game of the season, but players were not happy afterward due to the tough loss that dropped the team to 6-5. The Dolphins scored a season-high 36 points and were 5-of-5 in red zone trips. They were ranked 30th in red zone efficiency entering the game. "We lose as a team," Dolphins guard Dallas Thomas explained. "It's not just the defense not doing good or the offense doing good. It's everybody coming together."

Wheeler
Run defense concerning: Several Dolphins players were most disappointed in the run defense. The Broncos said during the week that they would re-establish their running game. So Miami was expecting it and felt confident due its eight-ranked run defense. Still, the Broncos rushed for 201 yards and dominated the line of scrimmage. "A lot of things contributed to that," Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler said. "We didn't tackle well, we didn't execute well and we were out of gaps sometimes. It was one of those games where we didn't play well."

Big names: Owner Stephen Ross and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino were briefly in the locker room after the game. They left as soon as the media arrived. Marino had a good talk with Broncos president John Elway during pregame warm-ups. Marino and Elway had a lot of good matchups against one another during their playing days.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

November, 23, 2014
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DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

What it means: The Dolphins suffered their second loss in three games to fall to 6-5. They blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Broncos (8-3) scored 22 straight points in the final period until the Dolphins scored a late touchdown. The 39 points allowed also was the highest amount this season by Miami's defense. The Dolphins are falling behind in a deep wild-card race in the AFC. It most likely will take 10 victories to make the playoffs and the Dolphins need to go 4-1 the rest of the way to hit that mark.

Stock watch: Miami's offense has been notorious for its slow starts. But the group's stock is rising after coming out hot and producing three touchdown drives for its highest-scoring first half of the season. The Dolphins registered 212 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. They also had a season-high 90 rushing yards in the first half, and the early production was needed against Denver’s explosive offense. As far as stock down, Miami's defense didn't play well. The front seven allowed 201 rushing yards and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas lit up the secondary with 10 receptions for 87 yards and three touchdowns.

Key injuries: Miami suffered two important injuries. Starting left tackle Ja'Wuan James suffered a shoulder stinger in the first half and didn't return. Starting cornerback Jamar Taylor also suffered a shoulder injury in the second half and didn't finish the game.

Game ball: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went head-to-head against Broncos star Peyton Manning and never flinched. Tannehill threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a losing effort. Tannehill also led the team to five touchdowns in five red zone trips. The Dolphins entered the game ranked No. 30 in red zone efficiency.

What's next: With their brutal November schedule now behind them, the Dolphins will begin the final month of the season with a must-win game against the New York Jets (2-8) on "Monday Night Football." This will be the Dolphins' second and final prime-time game of the season. They beat the Buffalo Bills 22-9 on Thursday night in Week 11.
DENVER -- Here are the Miami Dolphins' inactive players for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos: Analysis: Clay, who has hamstring and knee injuries, is a big loss for the offense. He's third on the team with 39 receptions and takes away a reliable weapon for starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Backup tight end Dion Sims will get the start in place of Clay. Finnegan, as expected, is out with an ankle injury. This is a big game for backup corner Jamar Taylor in his second career start.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Sunday from around the Web: Morning take: Miami (6-4) is in the playoff hunt needs a big win. But the Broncos (7-3) are 5-0 at home this season and will be a tough matchup.
  • Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel wonders if these Dolphins are any different.
Morning take: They have a chance to change their perception with a big win over the Broncos. That will erase a lot of skepticism about the team.
Morning take: Wake and the rest of Miami’s offense line have an advantage over Denver’s offensive line. Pressuring Manning is the best way for the Dolphins to pull the upset.
Morning take: The skills players get all the credit. But this game will be won in the trenches. Whichever offensive line can better protect its quarterback has the best chance to win.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

November, 22, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins (6-4) travel to play the Denver Broncos (7-3) on Sunday in a big game with playoff implications.

Here are three things to watch from Miami's perspective:

Thomas in spotlight: Dallas Thomas made his first career start at right tackle last week against the Buffalo Bills and wasn't happy with his performance. He allowed 2.5 of Mario Williams' 3.5 sacks in Miami's 22-9 victory. The assignments do not get easier this week for Thomas, who faces Broncos pass-rushers Von Miller and Demarcus Ware. “They're good at everything they do,” Thomas said. “So you have to be good [and] be on your P's and Q's on everything, runs and passes.”

Red-zone battle: One of the key areas in this game will be the red zone. Miami's defense, which is No. 2 in the NFL, will meet an efficient Broncos' offense. Denver is No. 1 in the NFL in red-zone efficiency. It scores touchdowns in 77.4 percent of its red-zone trips. The Dolphins' offense is ranked No. 30 in red-zone efficiency at 44.8 percent. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning isn't facing Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill directly. But Manning's efficiency and ability to score points puts constant pressure on Tannehill to score touchdowns and not settle for field goals.

Mile-high air: Although the Dolphins tried to downplay it in the media this week, there is some degree of concern for the thin air at Sports Authority Field. They are not traveling to Denver early, which means players must get acclimated mostly during Sunday's game. Broncos receiver Wes Welker said the thin air definitely takes getting used to. It's worth keeping an eye on early in the game to see if the Dolphins can avoid another slow start.

On my way to Denver

November, 22, 2014
Nov 22
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The Miami Dolphins (6-4) are traveling for their sixth road game of the season. This also could be their toughest when they face the Denver Broncos (7-3) on Sunday.

I am in the process of traveling to the Mile High City to report on Sunday's game. Hopefully, I can handle the thin air for a few days.

Remember to check ESPN.com and on Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL throughout the weekend for all the latest Dolphins coverage.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-4) will travel this weekend to play the Denver Broncos (7-3) in a big game for both teams.

Here is the final injury report for Miami:

Out: LB Jonathan Freeny (hamstring)

Doubtful: CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee)

Questionable: G Daryn Colledge (back), RB Lamar Miller (shoulder, knee)

Probable: S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring), LB Koa Misi (ankle), WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), G Mike Pouncey (hip), LB Jordan Tripp (chest), QB Ryan Tannehill (left shoulder), WR Mike Wallace (calf), LB Kelvin Sheppard (hip/groin)

Analysis: The Dolphins are banged up heading into this big game. Clay is a big loss for the offense, despite not putting up huge numbers this year. Dion Sims is expected to start in place of Clay. Finnegan also is not expected to play. Backup cornerback Jamar Taylor most likely will make his second career start. Miller's questionable status is a bit surprising. He has a new knee injury that was first reported on Friday. The Dolphins need Miller in this game. Colledge said earlier this week that he’s optimistic that he’s ready to return and is listed as questionable. For the Broncos, tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) is questionable and receiver Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is probable. Running backs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) are ruled out.


The Miami Dolphins are 5-2 in their past seven games and playing their best football in years. This is a chance to make a big statement on the road against the Denver Broncos. But I don’t foresee an upset this week.

There are several matchups for Miami to exploit. The biggest advantage is its stout defensive line against the Broncos' struggling offensive line. The Dolphins’ defense has made life tough for quality quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford this season. Expect there to be pressure on Peyton Manning, as well. That is the best route for Miami to win.

However, the Broncos are 5-0 at home, and it’s rare that they struggle for long stretches under Manning. You get the sense that the future Hall of Famer eventually will figure things out -- starting this weekend.

But here's the most telling stat in this matchup: Denver is No. 1 in the NFL in red-zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown 77.4 percent of the time. Miami is No. 30 at 44.9 percent.

Prediction: Broncos 27, Dolphins 24
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel writes who has the edge between the Dolphins and Denver Broncos.
Morning take: There are a lot of good matchups in this game. But the biggest will be Miami’s ability to pressure Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who is struggling of late.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald writes Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan is showing his versatility.
Morning take: Jordan brought a workmanlike mentality back to the Dolphins following his six-game suspension. Jordan must prove he's learned from his mistakes.
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins team site writes right tackle Dallas Thomas continues to face challenges.
Morning take: Last week it was Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills. This week it is Von Miller and Demarcus Ware in Denver. Thomas must be at the top of his game.
  • The staff of the Palm Beach Post makes their Dolphins-Broncos predictions.
Morning take: Most people are predicting Denver to win this game at home. The Broncos should be favored despite their recent struggles.
Miami Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay will be a game-time decision in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, a source tells ESPN.com.

Clay's status is in question following a recent hamstring injury he presumably suffered in practice this week. Clay practiced on Wednesday and a hamstring injury was not listed on the official injury report. However, he sat out Thursday due to a hamstring and a lingering knee injury that he's played through all season.

Clay is Miami's third-leading receiver with 39 receptions to go with 346 yards and two touchdowns. If Clay cannot suit up Sunday, backup tight end Dion Sims will start against the Broncos (7-3). Sims has nine receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown this season.


DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is direct and to the point. He is honest in his assessments, whether they are good or bad.

In fact, Lazor did a good job summarizing his philosophy a few weeks ago on how to get the best out of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

"I have to make things uncomfortable so he can get comfortable," Lazor explained.

Tannehill
In other words, Lazor is constantly pushing Tannehill to test his limits as a quarterback. Despite some rocky moments, Tannehill is making solid progress in his third season. He is on pace for career highs in touchdowns (17) and passer rating (92.2). Most importantly, the Dolphins are 5-2 in their past seven games with Tannehill under center entering Sunday's contest against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Lazor is doing a good job of accentuating what Tannehill does well, and their chemistry is developing. Tannehill has posted four games of triple-digit passer ratings already this season. He only had four games with triple-digit passer ratings in his previous two seasons.

"I didn’t know what to expect, honestly, coming in," Tannehill said of Lazor. "I came in kind of with an open mind just to see what he brought to the table. I think he’s done a great job of utilizing not only my skill set, but our team’s as well. I think the stuff we do utilizes my ability to move around, make some plays with my feet, and gets the ball in the hands of our playmakers."

A recent NFL.com article, citing anonymous sources, reported a "rift" between some offensive players and Lazor because of his coaching style. This week Lazor shrugged off the report and said his rapport with players is "about what a normal NFL offensive team would be."

"I probably just don’t put a lot of credence on anonymous reports," Lazor said. "Like I said, I enjoy the professionals, the guys we work with. I enjoy coming to work every day because of the people I work with. You’ve been at practice, nothing is different. You’ve been at training camp where you could be at the whole practices. I would like to think that, if the players were asked, that they would say I’ve been professional."

Tannehill said his rapport with Lazor is getting better and better, which is evident in the results. Tannehill is playing arguably the best football of his career over this seven-game stretch.

"It’s good. I think he does a good job of creating a game plan for us, putting us in positions to make plays during the game with his play-calling," Tannehill said. "I think our relationship has definitely grown as the season has gone on. I’ve gotten to know him more, and his personality more, and we’ve gotten more on the same page on not only football stuff, but just joking around with each other as well."

This pair must remain in synch if Miami (6-4) aims to end its six-year playoff drought. Tannehill and Lazor have a chance to prove over the next six games that they can thrive together for the long haul.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-4) held their final practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Here are some notes from Thursday’s sessions:
  • Miami starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan was not present during the media portion of practice and missed his third consecutive session with an ankle injury. Finnegan most likely will sit on Sunday. That means second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor is expected to start his second straight game. Taylor had seven tackles last week in a victory over the Buffalo Bills.
  • Guard Daryn Colledge practiced for the third straight time and looks poised to return from a back injury after missing the past two games. Colledge said Wednesday that he’s feeling good and believes he will play. Colledge, if healthy, could start against Denver over backup left guard Shelley Smith.
  • Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi, as expected, was present for his second straight practice. Misi missed Tuesday’s game after the birth of his child.
  • The Dolphins will not travel to Denver early to get used to the altitude. The team will follow their usual road schedule by leaving on Saturday. Head coach Joe Philbin said he looked into it and was told one extra day isn't enough to help get acclimated to the thin air.

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