Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The Miami Dolphins offense has been much improved in 2014 and there are two players to look to when giving credit for the turnaround. Those two are Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller, who have been running through defensive backfields throughout most of the season.
Tannehill's improved accuracy and decision making, along with his willingness to run the ball this year, has thrown many defenses off guard. Lamar Miller has found new life and has been plowing over defenders, making guys miss and literally breaking players' ankles, like he did on Thursday against cornerback Leodis McKelvin. Ryan Tannehill said that having this dual threat to run the ball is a huge advantage for the Dolphins.
“It keeps the chains moving. I think that’s the biggest thing [because] when you keep drives alive and keep the chains moving, it keeps your defense off of the field. It tires out the other defense. Ultimately, if you keep doing that, you’re going to score points. I think that the defense played great once we got the lead tonight. The defense really stepped up and held them where they were at.”
Joe Philbin said that despite Miller's shoulder injury on Thursday night, he still ran hard and made plays. Philbin was proud of the way they executed and of course, the way the offensive line battled throughout the game.
“I liked what the guys did in the running game. I thought the offensive line was – I mean, we shuffled some guys around and had some guys starting in spots they weren’t overly familiar with and didn’t have a lot of experience at, but I thought in general, from first glimpse, they did a good job. I thought Lamar’s play speed looked kind of like Lamar. That certainly helped.”
Another reason why the Dolphins found success not only on Thursday night, but also in other games this season is because of the short passing game that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has utilized this season. Tannehill said that it helps settle the team down and helps get them into a rhythm.
"Yeah, it really settled us in as a team. It settled me in [and] it settled our [offensive] tackles in. We knew that they had a good front coming in. To be able to get the ball out of my hands quickly and into our playmaker’s hands and them [turning it into positive] yards-after-catch really opened things up for us. It settled everyone in.”
Between the short passing game, Miller's abillity to run over defenders and make people miss and Tannehill's ability to run, it sets up for a dangerous offense. We saw this when Tannehill had an open field on Thursday night and ran the ball for 15 yards before sliding down.
“It’s fun. It really opens things up for us offensively. Thinking back on that, I wish I would have stayed on my feet and kept running. At the time, I thought it was a smart play. [I wasn’t] 100 percent sure and at that point in the game, I just wanted to move the chains. I think it was a smart play.”
The Dolphins will need to take their offense to the next level on Sunday when they face the Denver Broncos and learn to turn those field goals into touchdowns if they want to keep up with the best quarterback in the NFL.