Against the Tennessee Titans, it became increasingly obvious. While the Miami Dolphins struggled to even achieve first downs, third down was a glaring issue for the Miami squad. Ryan Tannehill and his offense had an incredibly difficult time pushing past the first-down marker, and as a whole, it killed them—marking a simple conclusion that must be stated.
The Dolphins must be better on third down.
In the Titans blowout, Miami could not do anything about it. On 15 third-down attempts throughout the game, the Dolphins could only manage two first downs. And it proved to be the bane of their existence in the matchup.
While the Dolphins now attempt to put their season back on course toward a precious playoff spot in the highly contentious AFC, this third-down issue must be addressed.
Particularly, with the type of defense Miami runs (incredibly strong defensive pressure, especially from Cameron Wake), the Dolphin offense must be on the field for as long as possible, giving the defense key time to rest. At this point in the season, the Dolphins are consistently on the low-end of the time-of-possession statistic, drawing an average of a three-minute deficit.
When Miami matches up against the pass-heavy offense of Tom Brady, keeping the defense off the field becomes an even more imperative issue. A tired secondary paired up with a relatively wiped out defensive line proves disaster for a squad like the Dolphins, especially in those close rivalry games that come down to the wire.
And it all stems from earning that next set of downs. Third down is always a tough scenario in football. But Miami has to be much more efficient if they want to turn that playoff dream into a reality.