Monday, October 1, 2012
Dolphins back to work Tuesday, not off as usual
DAVIE, Fla. -- After another overtime loss combined with a long flight back across the country, Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin gave his team Monday off.
The traditional Tuesday off-day will not follow. He wants to get back to work, and fast.
Philbin changed his typical schedule this week, a move he said was made strictly because the Dolphins played at Arizona on Sunday and not because he felt the need to give his players time to get over the disappointment of a second straight overtime loss. Miami plays at Cincinnati this week, and Philbin is already calling that game a "huge challenge."
"We're coming off a West Coast trip, we're coming off two tough losses, we're going to play a very good team, on the road again," Philbin said Monday. "We've got to strap it up, we've got to get to work. I told our staff we need to have a good, solid game plan against these guys, we've got to get our guys to play hard and to believe in themselves and play our tails off.
"It'll be a test for our staff, to see how good a staff we have."
After losing at Arizona 24-21 on Sunday, one week after dropping a 23-20 decision to the New York Jets at home, the Dolphins became the 15th time in NFL history to lose in overtime in consecutive weeks, according to STATS LLC.
There were several reasons the Dolphins ended up losing in overtime at Arizona, none bigger than the three turnovers they committed in the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
"That's just not a good recipe to win games in the National Football League or high school or Pop Warner," Philbin said. "It's disappointing. The turnover margin, for every statistical guru, is the No. 1 measurement in winning or losing games and we lost that margin again and lost the game."
The loss, which dropped the Dolphins' record to 1-3, tainted a couple of record-breaking performances.
Wide receiver Brian Hartline set a franchise record with 253 yards. It was the most receiving yards in the NFL since 2006 when Buffalo's Lee Evans had 265 against Houston. Among Hartline's 12 catches was an 80-yard touchdown that gave Miami a 21-14 lead with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter.
"Brian had a rare day," Philbin said. "It's not common. Obviously we're delighted that he did."
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, meanwhile, passed for 431 yards, breaking Dan Marino's franchise rookie record by 99 yards and coming within one yard of Cam Newton's NFL record for rookies, set last season.
Tannehill, who finished 26 of 41, threw two interceptions and had a key fumble late in the fourth quarter. But Philbin said two of the turnovers were caused by the failure to pick up blitzes.
"I thought he played well enough to win," Philbin said of Tannehill. "I thought he threw the ball well. Again, the statistics can be a little bit deceiving, but we're more interested in overall development. Is he making progress in terms of becoming a consistent, productive starter in the National Football League? I think we're seeing signs that he's doing that. The film is more important to watch than necessarily looking at the stat sheet. I think he's making good progress."
The Arizona game was a breakthrough for the Miami passing game. Through the first three weeks, the Dolphins hadn't completed a pass longer than 41 yards and Tannehill hadn't thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
Before his 80-yard touchdown, Hartline had a 57-yard reception in the second quarter.
"We talked about offensively we needed to be able to make some explosive plays in the passing game," Philbin said. "If you looked at our profile, that was an area we were deficient in. The good news is we made a number of big plays in the passing game. That's good. I don't know that we're going to be able to throw the ball for 400 yards every week, but that was certainly a plus from the game."
All the gaudy numbers produced by the Miami offense weren't enough to add up to a victory at Arizona. But at least Philbin says he continues to sees progress.
Asked if he feels better about his team now than he did at the start of the regular season, he quickly answered: "Absolutely. Absolutely. No question about it."
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