Numbers don’t lie: Miami Dolphins have broken up just one pass this season

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) and New York Jets receiver Robby Anderson (11) fight for the ball in the end zone. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

When Jets quarterback Josh McCown lofted a deep pass to Robby Anderson in the end zone, something unique happened: Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard broke it up.

Why is that unique?

Two games into this season, it’s the only pass break-up the Dolphins have.

Opponents have 11.

If Dolphins coaches were harping last week on the need for the secondary to be more physical, they’ll probably be screaming this week, ahead of Sunday’s game against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium.

The lonely number “1” stands out among several eye-catching statistics in this young season. Before listing more, we’ll point out that because of Hurricane Irma, the Dolphins had a bye the first week of the season, complicating statistical comparisons because they’ve played only two games while every other team (except Tampa Bay) has played three. To prevent apples-to-oranges comparisons, we’re leaning on per-game averages to determine where the Dolphins are trending.

To mangle a phrase from Adam Gase and colleague Joe Schad, Numbers Don’t Lie.

The bad

32nd

Where the Dolphins rank in yards per play, meaning they’re last. Miami is averaging just 4.28 per play, down from 5.84 last year. No, they weren’t very good at converting that yardage into points last season, but at least they ranked seventh in Gase’s first year calling plays here.


32nd

 You never want to see that number, but here it is again, representing the Dolphins’ last place in third-down percentage. They weren’t great at it last year (36.7 percent) but are way down to 24.0 in 2017. And the Dolphins are averaging just 2.55 yards per pass on third down, half of what opponents are gobbling up.


32nd

Argh. The hat trick. Dolphins are last in the NFL, allowing 8.55 yards per passing play. A few pass break-ups clearly are in order.


The good

5th

Remember how the Dolphins were 30th in the NFL against the run last year (how could you forget)? They’re No. 5 this season, at 73.5 rushing yards per game. Part of the reason is teams are toasting them through the air, where the Dolphin D is No. 28 in the league, dragging the defensive unit as a whole down to 25th in total yards per game.


1st

Where the run defense ranks against teams trying to run up the middle. They’re averaging 4 feet per try. Memo to offenses: That’s where Ndamukong Suh hangs around.


15

Kiko Alonso’s team-leading tackle total. Next are Reshad Jones (12) and Howard and Nate Allen with 10 each. But first-round pick Charles Harris has two.


3

William Hayes’ team-leading number of quarterback hits. Not bad for an end who’s supposed to help stop the run.

A look at special teams

2nd

Cody Parkey is second in the NFL with a kickoff average of 45.57 yards, but his touchback percentage is tied for 27th, meaning teams aren’t afraid of bringing the ball out.


31st

Matt Haack has a net average of just 36.9 yards, more than 3 yards below the league average.


3

No shocker that Michael Thomas leads the team with three special teams tackles. Five are tied with one.

A look at Cutler

23rd

QB Jay Cutler has been called inconsistent, and this season doesn’t disprove that. After recording a 101.8 passer rating against the Chargers, it plummeted to 70.3 vs. the Jets. Overall, Cutler’s rating of 83.8 is 23rd in the NFL, meaning the two guys he’s looking up to are Dwyer and Indianapolis’ Jacoby Brissett (85.8) and Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston (84.9).


19th

Cutler likes to throw deep but his average completion length (6.12) is 19th in the league.


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