December hasn't been a kind month to the Miami Dolphins under the direction of Joe Philbin and especially when it matters the most, such as last year when the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets when all they needed to do was win one game to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Now, with the Dolphins pushing for a playoff spot, Philbin is looking to turn things around and make this December one to remember and secure a spot in the playoffs. Some of that starts with success in the red zone and scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. With the team scoring five touchdowns last week, Philbin is hoping that it's a trend moving forward.
“We stepped up and made some plays. I think I talked about, last week, I had the opportunity to watch a bunch of our (red zone) possessions. There wasn’t one particular thing that had been the downfall necessarily as why we haven’t been as productive. Obviously, when you watch last week, we had a couple of running touchdowns. We had a couple of passing touchdowns. The guys stepped up and made some plays. I thought we had a good plan. I thought we had practiced it well. It transferred to the game. It’s the same thing. We will put in the red zone tomorrow. We would certainly love to be 100 percent every time you are in there.”
Another area the Dolphins will need to improve in is tackling as they haven't been very good at it the past several games. Philbin said it's something they are working on and have been doing specific drills to address the issue.
“We practiced it a little bit today. We broke up the whole team and did a specific emphasis on it. We did a fundamental presentation on it to the whole team today, so it’s certainly something that we want to make sure we address and work on. It’s like any other fundamental. You can’t assume anything in football, so you have to continually work on those basics of the game. Like I told the team today, I believe the game will be decided really by blocking and tackling. The schemes will take care of themselves.”
Besides the physical things and the execution by the players, they will need to be mentally tough to not get down when things aren't going their way. Instead, they need to keep on fighting and never give up. Philbin said he isn't worried about it though as he feels like this team has a great group of leaders who will keep everyone going.
“I like the way this team has competed really since we’ve started this whole thing. This is the great thing, this is a great opportunity. I told them today, we have a great opportunity, it’s December 1st by the time we kick the ball off in New York. Really good football teams play their best football in December and I’m confident that we are going to play an excellent game up in New York.”
The Dolphins will likely need to finish the season 4-1 ot make the playoffs. Finishing 5-0 would all but guarantee them a spot as a Wild Card team but could also propel them to win the AFC East. It will be an exciting few weeks and let's hope the Dolphins can make it happen in 2014.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. You can follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiac