AFC East: Miami Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. -- It was the kind of beatdown that could shake a defense's confidence.

The Miami Dolphins allowed 39 points, four passing touchdowns and 201 rushing yards in their Week 12 loss to the Denver Broncos. All were season highs.

It was the first time this season that Miami’s defense, which ranks No. 5 in the NFL, laid an egg at all levels. The run defense was awful. The pass rush and pass defense was inconsistent, and the Dolphins couldn't keep Peyton Manning and Co. out of the end zone.

Was this a one-game anomaly against an elite offense? Or is Miami’s defense flagging down the stretch? The New York Jets’ struggling offense with Geno Smith at quarterback will provide an answer on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

“We definitely want to get that sour taste out of our mouths,” Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins said of rebounding. “We’re working hard in practice so that we don’t have to deal with that again. We saw the mistakes and we know the corrections we have to make.”

Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle explained the fundamental issue in Denver was a lack of physicality. They had one sack on Manning, which was a coverage sack, and Denver averaged 5.7 yards per carry on the ground. Miami’s front seven was blown off the line of scrimmage, which usually is not an issue for this group. And it got worse as the game wore on.

Expect the 2-9 Jets to test Miami’s defense by trying to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. New York is fifth in rushing at 136.5 yards per game but last in the NFL in passing at 173.7 yards per game. The team also has gone through a quarterback carousel with Smith inserted as the starter for the first time since Week 7.

“I think it’s going to be more about what we do than what they do,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said of the Jets. “We are getting back to playing our style of football, which is fundamental hard-nosed football. I think we’ll be fine.”

The Dolphins (6-5) must prove they can win close games. They are 0-3 in games decided by four points or fewer. The Jets will be at an advantage if they can keep the score close throughout the game, especially at home.

Miami and its defense have little margin for error. An upset loss to the Jets would all but end Miami’s playoff hopes. The team will face the struggling Jets twice in the month of December and needs a sweep.

“We have to win this game. It’s a division game. We need to win this,” Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes said. “Then we go on to the next week. I don’t even know who we play after that. This game is a big one because it’s double weighted. We need it if we want to go to the playoffs.”

Dolphins vs. Jets preview

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
video When: 8:30 p.m. ET Monday Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford TV: ESPN

The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets find themselves in familiar roles entering their Week 13 matchup on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

The last time these rivals met, the Jets were out of the playoff race in Week 17 of the 2013 season. The Dolphins needed a win to get into the postseason, but New York's 20-7 victory ruined Miami's season.

The Jets (2-9) are back in the spoiler role Monday and have a chance to put a major dent into Miami's fledgling playoff hopes. The Dolphins are 6-5 and must win this game to stay in contention in a deep AFC.

Who will prevail in this division matchup? ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini and ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker debate:

Cimini: James, Ryan Tannehill appears to have improved and matured this season. Are the Dolphins convinced he's their long-term answer at quarterback?

Walker: Including last week, Tannehill has five games with triple-digit passer ratings. This is a strong step in the right direction. First-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has done a great job of pushing Tannehill to his limits since the spring. There have been some rocky moments, but the team is starting to see it pay off.

I've watched all 43 career starts for Tannehill, and this is as consistent as I've seen him over a long stretch. I don't expect him to become an elite quarterback who can single-handedly take over games. But Tannehill is at the point where he's becoming part of the solution, not the problem. Barring a complete meltdown in December, his improvements in Year 3 have earned him a fourth year as a starter. The Dolphins have bigger areas to address this offseason.

The Jets were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and embarrassed Monday against the Buffalo Bills. Do they have any fight left for Miami?

Cimini: You're right, James, they were embarrassed by the Bills, a team they used to handle easily. But that was back in 2009 and 2010, when the Jets had legitimate talent. Honestly, I don't know if they have anything left. For the most part, it's a team of proud professionals, but this kind of season can break your will. The roster is devoid of playmakers, so they can't find a spark anywhere. Once adversity hits, they crumble. This could be another Monday night debacle for them. The home crowd will turn on them quickly, and it could turn ugly. Correction: It will turn ugly.

It's tough to get a read on the Dolphins. They seem like an improved team, but they can't beat the big boys. What's your take?

Walker: I view them as right on the cusp of being a strong team, but they are still learning how to win. The Dolphins have the talent to play with just about anyone. The problem is they can't seem to win close games. Their six victories have come by an average margin of 19 points. All of their wins have been comfortable. Yet they tighten up in close games and are 0-3 in contests decided by four points or fewer. Those three losses came against likely playoff teams: the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Beating teams of that caliber is the next step in the Dolphins' maturing process.

This appears to be the final days for Rex Ryan as Jets head coach. How is he handling it?

Cimini: I've covered a lot of embattled coaches in my day, and Ryan is coping better than any of them. In terms of dealing with the media, he's courteous and professional, showing the same sense of humor (and occasional bravado) that made him a household name during the good times. He was dealt a bad hand, especially at cornerback, but he's never said anything that could be interpreted as criticism of his general manager, John Idzik. On the field, Ryan has had better years, obviously. The Jets commit too many penalties and they haven't been able to solve two nagging problems: red zone offense and red zone defense. Ryan knows he's toast, but he's continued the brave front -- good for the 'ol job résumé, I suppose.

This is a virtual must-win game for the Dolphins. They can't possibly lose to the 2-9 Jets, can they?

Walker: Although it doesn’t seem likely, I've learned in recent years that you can never assume anything with the Dolphins in division games. Miami hasn’t swept New York since 2009. This is a strong trend favoring New York. Strangely enough, the road team in this rivalry is 4-0 the past two seasons. The Dolphins desperately need to continue that streak. If Miami can't sweep the lowly Jets in two December games, it doesn’t deserve to be in playoff contention.

Finally, Rich, where does this team go at quarterback after the season? Geno Smith and Michael Vick aren't the answer.

Cimini: There's no way to predict what they'll do at quarterback because there will be a new head coach and, possibly, a new general manager. They have to create hope at the position, whether it's through the draft (Marcus Mariota?), free agency or the trade market.

Geno Smith is back in the starting role this week, giving the front office one last evaluation period before the offseason. The organization's hope is that he learned from sitting on the bench and that he can take it to the field. We'll see. It's hard to imagine him playing well enough to convince the powers that be (or will be) that he should be the undisputed starter in 2015. Late-season performances can be misleading; the Jets got sucked in last year by Smith's encouraging finish. They should draft a quarterback and create a competition with Smith, if he earns that shot over the final five games.

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins concluded their second practice in preparation for the New York Jets.

Here is the Thursday injury report for Miami:

Ruled out: LB Jonathan Freeny (hamstring), CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder)

Limited practice: WR Mike Wallace (chest), TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee), G Daryn Colledge (back), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), LT Ja'Wuan James (neck)

Full practice: G Nate Garner (illness), QB Ryan Tannehill (left shoulder), WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), RB Lamar Miller (knee), LB Koa Misi (ankle, knee), S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

Analysis: The Dolphins are in pretty good shape entering Week 13. Most of their "limited" players are expected to be ready for Monday’s rivalry game against the Jets. Finnegan, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, is the major question mark. He worked primarily with trainers on Wednesday’s portion of practice open to the media, but increased his workload on Thursday. The Dolphins need depth at cornerback, especially with Taylor already ruled out against New York with a shoulder injury.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (6-5) continued their preparation for the New York Jets (2-9) with a Thanksgiving Day practice.

Here are some notes and observations from Thursday's session:
  • Wallace
    The Dolphins had plenty of good news on the injury front. The biggest was No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace practiced after missing Wednesday's session. Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi, who also missed Wednesday, returned to practice. Both are expected to play on Monday against the Jets.
  • Miami starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan missed the past two games with an ankle injury. But he participated in practice for the first time this week. Finnegan dressed, but worked with trainers on Wednesday. The Dolphins need cornerback depth.
  • Two players who are not expected to play against the Jets are Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor (shoulder) and linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hamstring). Both players missed their second straight practice.
  • Dolphins left tackle Ja'Wuan James, who was knocked out of Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos with a shoulder stinger, practiced for the second straight day. Starting tight end Charles Clay also practiced again and appears poised to return after missing last week's game.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-5) began their practice week on Wednesday in preparation for the New York Jets (2-9).

Here are some notes for Miami:
  • Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace did not practice Wednesday during the portion open to the media. Wallace's injury is unknown. But Wallace did some jogging and catching footballs on the sidelines. The Dolphins will not release an injury report until Thursday.
  • The Dolphins also had some interesting absences. Starting linebacker Koa Misi and cornerback Jamar Taylor were not present Wednesday during the portion open to the media. Taylor did not finish last Sunday's game against the Broncos because of a shoulder injury. Misi has been on and off with an ankle injury, but it’s unknown why he was absent this week.
  • Veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan dressed for practice but worked on the side with trainers during the early portion of practice. Finnegan is trying to come back from an ankle injury that's kept him out of the past two games.
  • The Dolphins received some good injury news. Starting left tackle Ja'Wuan James and tight end Charles Clay both practiced Wednesday. Clay did not play last week against Denver because of knee and hamstring injuries, and James was knocked out of the game with a stinger.

QB snapshot: Ryan Tannehill

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
A quick observation of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and how he played in the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss in Week 12:

Tannehill had another strong performance in a losing effort to the Denver Broncos. He didn't necessarily put up huge numbers, but he stayed within the flow of the game and nearly matched future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning drive for drive for four quarters.

Tannehill threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also posted his fifth triple-digit passer rating (104.9) of the season. But the most impressive statistic was Tannehill led Miami to five touchdowns in five trips to the red zone. The Dolphins entered Sunday's game ranked 30th in red zone efficiency. This was a big step in the right direction and bodes well for Tannehill and the offense.

The Dolphins (6-5) now have a must-win game against the lowly New York Jets (2-9) on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Miami needs a strong finish from Tannehill, who must continue to produce touchdown drives instead of settling for field goals.
For the first time all season, the defense of the Miami Dolphins laid an egg in Sunday's 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos.

There have been times this season when the secondary got beat or the front seven struggled stopping the run. But Sunday was the first time Miami's entire defense, which was ranked No. 2 entering Week 12, was dominated at all levels.

[+] EnlargeCJ Anderson
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins have to step up their rush defense the rest of the year if they want to make a playoff push.
But perhaps the most concerning aspect was Denver rushing for 201 yards and averaging 5.7 yards per carry. The Broncos made it clear during the week they wanted to establish the run and the Dolphins were aware of it. Still, they couldn't do anything to stop Denver, which was led by running back C.J. Anderson's 167 rushing yards and a touchdown.

"I didn't feel like they were just running it down our throats, I thought they were being very physical though," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "I didn't think we were as physical as we normally are at the point of attack."

Miami entered Sunday giving up just 94.5 rushing yards per game. Yet poor tackling, poor gap assignments and the inability to get off blocks plagued the team. The multiple issues seemingly came out of nowhere and must be addressed before facing the lowly New York Jets (2-9) on "Monday Night Football."

"We've got to talk about that here as we go into the week," Coyle said. "I think as the game wore on, there were no surprises anymore. They were determined to run the football and they did."

The Dolphins blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter by allowing Denver to score 22 unanswered points. It was the third time this season Miami's defense blew a fourth-quarter lead to lose a game.

There is little margin for error remaining for the Dolphins (6-5) in a deep and competitive AFC. They have to get hot in December and be able to pull out the close games if they want to make a push for the playoffs.

"They step up and make plays at critical times. At some point in time, we have to be able to do that," Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. "We've won a lot of games double-digits in the six wins we've had. We've had some good margin-of-victory in those games, but you look at the last three losses we've had and what are they by, three, four and three points. We have to find a way to win some of those games."
DENVER -- Cameron Wake has been here before.

The Miami Dolphins' Pro Bowl defensive end was the last player to leave a disappointed locker room following a 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos. Wake has suffered through five consecutive nonplayoff seasons in Miami -- and a trend has emerged in Year 6 that could extend that streak:

The Dolphins don't deliver in the clutch. They don't close out tight games.

On Sunday, they blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter by allowing Denver to score 22 straight points. Miami also gave up last-minute touchdowns in losses to Green Bay and Detroit. The Dolphins lost these three games by a total of 10 points, and it's the difference in Miami between 6-5 and 9-2.

"This isn't the NCAA. This is the NFL -- everybody is the best at what they do," Wake said. "We have three plays to have three wins -- literally. ... It's tough. But that's the kind of thing you sign up for when you play in this league."

Miami held 11-point leads at three different spots in Sunday's game. It jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the second quarter, a 21-10 lead in the third quarter and took a 28-17 lead into the fourth quarter. But it failed to blow the game open on each occasion against a quality Broncos team.

Denver (8-3), the Super Bowl runner-up and reigning AFC champion, honed in during the fourth quarter and produced three straight touchdown drives. That is when a championship contender brings its best effort, and the Dolphins failed to answer.

Denver rushed for 201 yards and Peyton Manning, who threw for four touchdowns, chipped away at the Dolphins' defense with a short and accurate passing game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was an astounding 22-for-22 with three touchdowns on passes of 5 yards or fewer. It was the most completions by a quarterback on short throws in the past nine seasons.

The Dolphins hadn't allowed 22 points in a quarter all season, and the 39 total points also were a season worst for their defense.

"It's a game of momentum," Dolphins safety Jimmy Wilson said. "Once a team gets momentum, it's hard to stop guys. They make a big play here or there and get a big third down here or there that breaks your back. We just got to be better."

The Dolphins are comfortable in blowouts. Their average margin of victory in six wins this year is 19 points. But in the close, one-possession games such as Sunday's, they get tight and falter down the stretch. They aren't making those crucial plays in the biggest spots of their season, and that's an area where this team must grow to get to the next level.

"Even with the way things went, it still came down to one play," Wake said. "And that play could have been anywhere spread out throughout the entire game. One sack-fumble, one more first down or a kickoff return. Three points -- you can probably find that somewhere throughout the course of the game."
DENVER -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Offense comes together: Miami's offense played its best game of the season, but players were not happy afterward due to the tough loss that dropped the team to 6-5. The Dolphins scored a season-high 36 points and were 5-of-5 in red zone trips. They were ranked 30th in red zone efficiency entering the game. "We lose as a team," Dolphins guard Dallas Thomas explained. "It's not just the defense not doing good or the offense doing good. It's everybody coming together."

Run defense concerning: Several Dolphins players were most disappointed in the run defense. The Broncos said during the week that they would re-establish their running game. So Miami was expecting it and felt confident due its eight-ranked run defense. Still, the Broncos rushed for 201 yards and dominated the line of scrimmage. "A lot of things contributed to that," Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler said. "We didn't tackle well, we didn't execute well and we were out of gaps sometimes. It was one of those games where we didn't play well."

Big names: Owner Stephen Ross and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino were briefly in the locker room after the game. They left as soon as the media arrived. Marino had a good talk with Broncos president John Elway during pregame warm-ups. Marino and Elway had a lot of good matchups against one another during their playing days.
DENVER -- Here are the Miami Dolphins' inactive players for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos: Analysis: Clay, who has hamstring and knee injuries, is a big loss for the offense. He's third on the team with 39 receptions and takes away a reliable weapon for starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Backup tight end Dion Sims will get the start in place of Clay. Finnegan, as expected, is out with an ankle injury. This is a big game for backup corner Jamar Taylor in his second career start.

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is direct and to the point. He is honest in his assessments, whether they are good or bad.

In fact, Lazor did a good job summarizing his philosophy a few weeks ago on how to get the best out of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

"I have to make things uncomfortable so he can get comfortable," Lazor explained.

In other words, Lazor is constantly pushing Tannehill to test his limits as a quarterback. Despite some rocky moments, Tannehill is making solid progress in his third season. He is on pace for career highs in touchdowns (17) and passer rating (92.2). Most importantly, the Dolphins are 5-2 in their past seven games with Tannehill under center entering Sunday's contest against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Lazor is doing a good job of accentuating what Tannehill does well, and their chemistry is developing. Tannehill has posted four games of triple-digit passer ratings already this season. He only had four games with triple-digit passer ratings in his previous two seasons.

"I didn’t know what to expect, honestly, coming in," Tannehill said of Lazor. "I came in kind of with an open mind just to see what he brought to the table. I think he’s done a great job of utilizing not only my skill set, but our team’s as well. I think the stuff we do utilizes my ability to move around, make some plays with my feet, and gets the ball in the hands of our playmakers."

A recent article, citing anonymous sources, reported a "rift" between some offensive players and Lazor because of his coaching style. This week Lazor shrugged off the report and said his rapport with players is "about what a normal NFL offensive team would be."

"I probably just don’t put a lot of credence on anonymous reports," Lazor said. "Like I said, I enjoy the professionals, the guys we work with. I enjoy coming to work every day because of the people I work with. You’ve been at practice, nothing is different. You’ve been at training camp where you could be at the whole practices. I would like to think that, if the players were asked, that they would say I’ve been professional."

Tannehill said his rapport with Lazor is getting better and better, which is evident in the results. Tannehill is playing arguably the best football of his career over this seven-game stretch.

"It’s good. I think he does a good job of creating a game plan for us, putting us in positions to make plays during the game with his play-calling," Tannehill said. "I think our relationship has definitely grown as the season has gone on. I’ve gotten to know him more, and his personality more, and we’ve gotten more on the same page on not only football stuff, but just joking around with each other as well."

This pair must remain in synch if Miami (6-4) aims to end its six-year playoff drought. Tannehill and Lazor have a chance to prove over the next six games that they can thrive together for the long haul.
DAVIE, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins (6-4) held their final practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Here are some notes from Thursday’s sessions:
  • Miami starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan was not present during the media portion of practice and missed his third consecutive session with an ankle injury. Finnegan most likely will sit on Sunday. That means second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor is expected to start his second straight game. Taylor had seven tackles last week in a victory over the Buffalo Bills.
  • Guard Daryn Colledge practiced for the third straight time and looks poised to return from a back injury after missing the past two games. Colledge said Wednesday that he’s feeling good and believes he will play. Colledge, if healthy, could start against Denver over backup left guard Shelley Smith.
  • Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi, as expected, was present for his second straight practice. Misi missed Tuesday’s game after the birth of his child.
  • The Dolphins will not travel to Denver early to get used to the altitude. The team will follow their usual road schedule by leaving on Saturday. Head coach Joe Philbin said he looked into it and was told one extra day isn't enough to help get acclimated to the thin air.
DAVIE, Fla. -- For the first time this season, Peyton Manning looks human on the football field. He has struggled in two of his past three games, including the Denver Broncos' 22-7 defeat Sunday to the St. Louis Rams.

Manning looks hurried in the pocket behind a struggling offensive line. He's making bad throws and bad decisions, which is evident in his six interceptions the past three games. Manning also doesn't look like the same dominant quarterback with several of his supporting cast dealing with injuries.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelThe Dolphins' defense is working on disguising its blitzes and coverages to keep Broncos QB Peyton Manning on the move in Week 12.
But you wouldn't know it by listening to players and coaches with the Miami Dolphins (6-4) this week. They expect the best version of Manning -- the elite Manning -- Sunday when they travel to play the Broncos (7-3) in a big game with playoff implications.

"Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning," said Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who has played against Manning several times in his career. "He's going to move the football. The biggest thing for us is points. He could have 500 yards passing. As long as we limit the points, that's big for us."

The Dolphins' defense, which is ranked No. 2 in yards per game, is playing as good as any team in recent weeks. The Dolphins are also ranked No. 2 in pass defense and haven't allowed a touchdown in two of their past three games. It's a major reason they are 5-2 in the past seven games.

Still, it sounds as if Miami is expecting a shootout Sunday. The Broncos are the fifth-highest-scoring team in the NFL, averaging 29.3 points per game. Manning already has 30 touchdown passes in 10 games. The Dolphins do not envision the type of low-scoring games they've had against the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions or Jacksonville Jaguars in recent weeks.

"That's obvious to us that we're playing one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best quarterback, to ever play the game," Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said Tuesday. "So we have to put up some points. We don't even [have to] talk about it. ... We know we have to put up more points. We know our defense will need a little more help."

Manning isn't the first elite quarterback Miami faced this season. The team beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 1 and lost a nail-biter to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 6. So playing a quarterback of Manning's caliber will not be foreign.

The key, according to the Dolphins, will be disguising their blitzes and coverages. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has done a good job in his third year of knowing when to drop back seven or eight players and when to blitz to pressure the quarterback.

Rest assured, Manning is studying all of Miami's defensive looks this week.

"I don't know how many things Peyton hasn't seen in the years he's been playing. He is remarkable," Coyle said. "Talking with people who have been around him, he's got almost a photogenic memory. When he sees something, he locks it in and can retrieve it a year later or two years later."

The Rams and Patriots have provided a fine blueprint of how to rattle Manning this season. Both teams made sure to get plenty of pressure on the future Hall of Fame quarterback, even if it didn't result in sacks. One of Miami's biggest strengths is the defensive line, which has a distinct advantage over Denver's offensive line.

Miami's defense has played very well all season but flown mostly under the radar. Getting the best of Manning in his house would certainly raise its profile.

"This is what you play the game for, these type of games," Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. "I think it will be a great atmosphere, a great time of the season. We're playing against one of the top offenses there is. It's our time to go out, make our plays and make a statement."
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (6-4) began preparation for Sunday’s big game against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Here are several notes and observations from Tuesday’s session:
  • Finnegan
    The major injury concern this week is the ankle of starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media. Finnegan was injured in a Week 10 loss to the Detroit Lions and missed last week’s game against Buffalo Bills. Finnegan is needed this week against Denver's variety of offensive weapons.
  • Miami backup linebacker Jonathan Freeny, as expected, also did not practice. Freeny suffered a hamstring against the Bills, and multiple sources tell Freeny is expected to miss approximately four weeks. Freeny is one of the team’s better special-teams players. The Dolphins also lost backup corner Will Davis and backup safety Michael Thomas in recent weeks, which also hurts their special teams.
  • Miami’s practice bubble was purposely made colder by head coach Joe Philbin. His team hasn’t played in a game below 50 degrees all season. It’s expected to be around 30-35 degrees in Denver on Sunday.
  • The Dolphins received some good injury news. Starting guard Daryn Colledge practiced, which is a good sign he could return Sunday. Colledge missed the past two games with a back injury. If healthy, Colledge would start over Shelley Smith at left guard.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

The Miami Dolphins (6-4) have done a lot of things correctly while posting a 5-2 record in the past seven games. But an area of concern that could derail them next week against the Denver Broncos is pass protection, particularly at right tackle.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked a season-high five times in Thursday’s 22-9 victory over the Buffalo Bills, and starting right tackle Dallas Thomas allowed Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams to register 2.5 of his 3.5 sacks.

The Dolphins weakened their right-tackle position after moving first-round pick Ja'Wuan James to left tackle to replace injured Pro Bowler Branden Albert (knee), who is lost for the season. They had several options at right tackle but chose Thomas, who started this season at guard, over backups Nate Garner and Jason Fox.

Thomas looked out of place in his first start at right tackle this season in terms of his footwork, lack of quickness and overall strength against Williams. The competition only gets stiffer Sunday against Denver pass-rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.

Thomas must step up his game if he wants to remain the right tackle for the final six games. He also could use more help from “chips” and double-teams from running backs and tight ends. All of Thomas' 2.5 sacks against Buffalo were allowed in one-on-one situations.



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