Why the Miami Dolphins think Andre Branch’s production is down

Andre Branch signed a big deal before this season. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — The Miami Dolphins gave Andre Branch a 3-year, $24 million contract after last season, in large part because he helped spark a total team turnaround after he entered the starting lineup in Week 6.

But a simple comparison of Branch’s 2016 and ’17 statistics show his production has decreased:

2016: 11 starts, 49 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles.

2017: 13 starts, 21 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 6 quarterback hits, 0 forced fumbles.

Branch has played only 13 games this season, compared to all 16 last season. But he has half as many tackles, half as many tackles for loss and half as many quarterback hits.

Branch was a part of a rotation with Cam Wake, William Hayes and Charles Harris earlier in the season, before Hayes went on injured reserve. It just hasn’t seemed that Branch has been able to deliver the relentless and infectious energy, passion and enthusiasm he did last season.

Why? Defensive coordinator Matt Burke, on Thursday, cited injury.

“It’s probably not that far off,” Burke said of Branch’s season, compared to last. “He has been battling some stuff, ‘Dre has. He has been … I think it’s kind of one of the less talked about things that he has been battling through a lot of things and tried to tough some things out, so I don’t think he has been feeling 100 percent physically. That has probably affected a little bit of his production and those sort of things. He has kind of been right where we want him to be.”

Branch has been listed on Miami’s injury report with knee and groin injuries this season. He’s been limited or out of some practices, and missed two games earlier in the season.

Last week, Branch told The Daily Dolphin: “It’s tough because you’re limited, and people don’t see that. They just want things to be done and they have no clue what you’re going through. But at the end of the day, it’s a part of football. It’s a very brutal sport, and you’ve gotta battle through injuries.”

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