Dolphins’ offense, defense both in bad shape for new coach

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) — Here’s a matchup that’s awful but even: the Miami Dolphins’ offense against their defense.

Both are bad. Which is worse?

Pass protection, the pass rush, the running game and run defense have all been problems for the Dolphins (1-3), which got coach Joe Philbin fired Monday after only four games. Tight ends coach Dan Campbell was promoted to interim head coach, and the choice won raves from his players.

He also dismissed defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, replacing him with defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo.

Campbell will be faced with a lot to fix when the Dolphins return Monday from their bye break. They haven’t blocked or tackled well, and their only victory came despite a lackluster performance in the season opener, thanks to a punt return for a touchdown. In three games since they’ve been outscored 91-48.

And for Dolphins fans still harboring playoff hopes, there’s this bad news: midseason coaching changes don’t work.

Miami is the 26th team since 2000 to switch coaches during the season, according to STATS. None of the previous 25 teams made the playoffs.

Only one of those interim coaches achieved a personal record more than one game above .500 in his first season. Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys went 5-3 as his team finished 6-10 in 2010.

Garrett and Campbell happen to be former NFL teammates with the Giants in 2000-01. And Garrett predicts a successful coaching change for Miami.

"It’s a challenge when they happen during the season," Garrett said. "But Dan Campbell was a teammate of mine, and he’s just a hell of a guy, and I think he’s a really good football guy. I think somehow, some way, he’s going to help that team get righted. And he’s going to do that because he’s a really willful guy."

Teams often come from behind by playing to their strength, but Campbell must figure out what that might be. Offense or defense?

RUN DEFENSE VERSUS RUNNING GAME: The front four was supposed to be stellar, thanks to the offseason addition of $114 million tackle Ndamukong Suh, who helped the Lions lead the league in run defense last year. But Miami’s defense is allowing an average of 160.5 yards rushing, which ranks last in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the running game ranks last in the AFC at 69.3 yards, and Miami runs the ball only 26 percent of the time, which ranks last. Running back Lamar Miller has yet to score for an offense that is last in the AFC in points per game. EDGE: Even.

PASS RUSH VERSUS RYAN TANNEHILL: The defense has been unable to apply much pressure to a succession of so-so quarterbacks, and ranks last in the NFL with one sack, courtesy of rookie Jordan Phillips in the opener. Suh, Pro Bowl end Cameron Wake and end Olivier Vernon, who totaled 26 1/2 sacks last year, have all been shut out.

But they might have a chance against Miami’s offensive line, a persistent problem throughout Philbin’s tenure. Tannehill has been sacked only 10 times, but that’s because he has thrown mostly short, quick passes to negate pressure. Even so, he has been hurried and hit a lot, and in the past two games his passer rating is a miserable 56.5. EDGE: Even.

TURNOVERS: Miami has yet to recover an opposing fumble, and ranks third worst in takeaways. Tannehill has thrown five interceptions in the past two weeks. EDGE: Even.

STARTING QUICKLY: The offense and defense have been equally inept in the first quarter, when the Dolphins have been outgained 607-136 and outscored 37-3. EDGE: Even.

NEWCOMER HELP: The biggest disappointment on defense has been the 320-pound Suh, who managed one tackle in each of the first two games and has one quarterback hurry all season. On offense, first-round draft pick DeVante Parker has yet to show he’s fully recovered from offseason foot surgery, and he has totaled four catches for 49 yards. EDGE: Even.

Looks like the new coach will have to break a tie.


AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.


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