Dolphins mailbag: Lack of big plays, assessing co-offensive coordinator plan and more

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After the Dolphins’ heartbreaking 31-28 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Brian Flores and multiple players reiterated that there are no moral victories in the NFL, and even more so after a game in which the team relinquished a 14-0 lead and gave up 25 points in a row.

With a second consecutive defeat, the Dolphins are 1-2 but return home and look to get back to .500 when they host the 0-3 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It’ll also be a reunion for quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who will be the starting quarterback for at least the next two games and spent four seasons with Indianapolis.

In this week’s mailbag, I attempt to make sense of the offense’s continued struggles, the co-offensive coordinator pairing and more. And a reminder that if you have questions you would like me to answer in future mailbags, you can ask me on Twitter or email me.

Here we go:

It seems as though the offense has regressed since last season. What are the keys to getting the offense moving in the right direction? - @Dan_B_Phin_Phan

By all stats and advanced metrics, the Dolphins have one of the worst offenses in the NFL. They’re averaging 4 yards per play (31st in the league) and 15 points (30th). Football Outsiders rates Miami’s offensive efficiency as 30th in the NFL. In 2020, the Dolphins were generally a mediocre offense, averaging 5.3 yards (21st) and 25.3 points (15th) and rated by Football Outsiders as the 18th-most efficient unit.

There are multiple reasons for the regression, some more significant than others. I think the Dolphins’ skill position players are more than capable and most teams would have at least an above-average offense will their talent. But Miami is getting below-average play from its offensive line and quarterbacks, partly due to the performance of the offensive line. The struggles of that unit have significantly handicapped the potential of this offense to be as explosive as it should be. Despite changes along the line that produced some good moments against Las Vegas, I have still major concerns about the unit going forward and how much better it can really get.

The line showed improvement. Still inconsistent but much better. Obviously there was a philosophy change in play- calling. Away from RPO, more old school. Do you think if they continue to improve in this play style that we could use it when Tua comes back? - @Nick01736583

Like you, I did notice what appeared to be the diminishing of the RPO with Brissett under center against the Raiders. The more traditional drop backs do suit Brissett a little better but we did see times in which the routes couldn’t develop because the offensive line could not hold its blocks long enough. Brissett moved just as well as, if not better than, Tua Tagovailoa against Las Vegas and he was able to salvage multiple plays that appeared dead in the water. While the RPO has its drawbacks, I’m still more inclined to keep it a strong focal point of the offense, given the state of the offensive line and Tagovailoa’s limited mobility.

Safe to say the two-headed offensive coordinator project is a failure? Play-calling is abysmal, offense has somehow gotten worse, players aren’t prepared for games. - @wlcampbelljr

I wouldn’t say the project is a failure, but Flores’ decision to adopt the unorthodox approach in favor of a singular, more veteran play-caller is becoming more questionable by the week. The exact nature of the collaboration between George Godsey and Eric Studesville is still unknown, and the team has yet to publicly say that Godsey is calling plays, even though two of three opposing head coaches this season have bluntly stated so.

The offense does seem to lack an identity, and the injury to Tagovailoa doesn’t help the development of a young group. I’m not one to nitpick certain plays after the fact but the offense did seem woefully unprepared to play the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. I thought trying to begin that game the same way they did against the New England Patriots, with an RPO slant, was vanilla and didn’t show any week-to-week evolution.

The jury is still out on the Godsey-Studesville partnership but so far, two heads don’t seem better than one.

Would you say next week is a must-win game? With [Tampa Bay] the following week, I’m inclined to say yes myself. 2-3 can be overcome, but not 1-4. Not in this AFC. - @Finhead83

Isn’t every game a must-win game? The Bills seem like the class of the AFC East so let’s just assume the Dolphins will be competing for one of the three wild-card spots. For reference, Miami started 1-3 last year before winning its next five games and finishing 10-6, one victory shy of the playoffs. You don’t want to start slow but all this is to say is that it’s a long season and with an extra game in the regular season, there’s more than enough time for the team to turn it around. Aside from Week 2, the team has played competitive football but they’ve yet to put a full four quarters of quality play together.

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