DAVIE — The season hasn’t even started, yet already, a familiar issue for the Dolphins has popped up again.
On third down, the defense can’t get off the field.
And the offense can’t stay on it.
Through three preseason games, the results have been so out of whack that coach Adam Gase has a unique solution offensively, at least.
“We might not want to get there anymore,” he said in deadpan fashion.
The Dolphins have converted just 9-of-36 third-down opportunities this preseason. That’s a .250 percentage.
Defensively, the opposite: Opponents are converting 26-of-52 (.500).
Flip-flop those figures and the Dolphins would be delighted.
“We’ve got to stay third-and-manageable,” Gase said of the offense. “I think a lot of it comes when we’re third-and-7-plus. We kind of put ourselves in a hole and it’s tough in this league because the pass rush is coming. They know you’re not running the ball.”
How do you keep the yards-to-gain marker within sight?
“Attention to detail, fixing the penalties,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “I think we had a turnover early, on the early downs. Just all of us being on the same page.”
Tight end Julius Thomas said improvement is needed across the board.
“There’s no part of our game that’s where we need it to be right now,” he said.
Something has to change, because opponents are hogging the ball for an average of 36:52 to Miami’s 23:08. It’s a recipe for some gassed defensive players come the fourth quarter in September sizzlers at Hard Rock Stadium.
These stats don’t count, but for comparison’s sake, Miami is 27th in the NFL in preseason total offense and 26th on defense. They’re 28th in third-down offense and tied for 30th defensively. Finally, they’re 31st in scoring defense.
“On defense, it’s more about getting them to third down,” said Gase, surely referring to a 93-yard touchdown drive by the Eagles in which Philly did not need to convert a third down. “On first and second down, we need to improve. That was probably the biggest thing (defensive coordinator) Matt (Burke) and myself were talking about. Let’s get them to third down because that should be one of our strengths with our pass rush and the coverages we’re playing behind it and the pressures. He has some really good stuff and we’re executing better. We just need to get to third down more.”
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Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.