What up ’Phins fans! Yesterday, I was mulling through some team analytics to handicap some games for this weekend and stumbled across some pretty interesting stuff on our own Miami Dolphins. While the statistics don’t tell us everything we need to know, they certainly help to highlight several strengths and weaknesses.
What follows is part one of a by the numbers look at the Dolphins. The first part deals with the offensive stats and I’ll release part two, on the defense and special teams, tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the article and as always feel free to shoot any comments, questions or thoughts on handicapping, fantasy football or the Dolphins to my email [email protected] or follow me on twitter @thecuffester and instagram @cuffeap
All stats provided by ESPN and current as of 11/22/13
Where we’re good
Ummm, We’re ranked 13th in the NFL in completion percentage, so that’s good…
Where we suck
Total Offense: 3078 yds NFL Rank: 31st
Points/Game: 21.3 NFL Rank: 23rd
First Downs: 178 NFL Rank: 28th
3rd Down: 35.3% NFL Rank: 24th
Sacks: 41 NFL Rank: 32nd
Sack yards Lost: 283 yards NFL Rank: 32nd
Ouch, This was a tough group of numbers to look at. Only the Jags have fewer yards on offense than the Dolphins and as a result our total points rank in the bottom 10 in the NFL. What I find the most interesting however, is how few first downs we are getting and how low our 3rd down conversion rate is. Going back through the film it is pretty clear these numbers are linked. The Dolphins face 3rd down and 7 or more yards, on far too many drives. The result is that their chances of converting are significantly lower and the outcome is a distinct lack of first downs.
Sacks are also obviously a major problem. The Dolphins have given up 3 more sacks than any other team in the NFL and lost almost 7 yards per sack. The Offensive Line is struggling with injuries, controversy and poor play but something has to be done in terms of scheme because these sacks are costing us games (see Tampa Bay). One note of encouragement though, through the first 5 games the Dolphins gave up 24 sacks, through the second five after the bye we have given up just 17. The 4 sacks against San Diego last week looked like a step back but with any luck when star center Mike Pouncey returns from injury, the line should continue their progress.
Where we’re not as bad as you think
Rushing: 887 yards NFL Rank: 24th
Rush Attempts: 214 NFL Rank: 30th
Yds/Attempt: 4.1 yds/attempt NFL Rank: 14th
Now bare with me here. The Dolphins 887 rushing yards and 88.7 yards per game rank 24th in the NFL, not exactly great. However, we have run the ball just 214 times, the third lowest total in the league. When we have run, Dolphin’s rushers have averaged 4.1 yards per attempt, good for 14th in the NFL. Now, while these numbers are far from outstanding, they are certainly telling.
Going back through the film. It seems to me that Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin are very quick to abandon the running game, even in the first half. The line obviously has major problems and neither Daniel Thomas nor Lamar Miller have emerged as a serviceable starting running backs but giving them the rock a few more times would present several opportunities to the offense.
Mike Sherman should consider getting more creative. In particular, running a few more draw plays and outside handoffs would present a change of pace and different look to opposing defenses. Additionally, the presence of a legitimate running attack would slow down the pass rush, open up the passing game and limit the number of sacks Tannehill is taking. Play action would become more effective and provide a chance to take more deep shots to Mike Wallace, something we’d like to see a lot more of.
I’d additionally like to see more designed runs for Tannehill and some read option plays. The young QB is an extraordinary athlete and, just a few years ago, was Texas A&M’s best receiver, so giving him a chance to move outside of the pocket would present another dimension of the offense for opposing defensive coordinators to scheme around.
Tune in tomorrow for Part Two, in which I’ll take a look at the Dolphin’s defense and special teams by the numbers