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Return of the Deep Ball: Dolphins talking long passes

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The Miami Dolphins opened up their passing game against the New England Patriots, with multiple deep passes from Ryan Tannehill. On Wednesday, it was a major point of discussion.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins essentially took Tuesday as a rest day for the players, with team meetings, film work, and weight training the only things on the schedule. That made Wednesday the first day on the field for the Dolphins, and the first time this week the players and coaches were available to the media. While several topics were addressed throughout the press conferences, the re-emergence of the Dolphins' deep passing game served as a running theme.

Asked if the long ball would be a priority over the final two weeks of the season, head coach Joe Philbin answered, "Each week on our game-plan we have a category called shots where potentially, depending on what happens after the snap of the football, there is a chance the ball could go vertically down the field. I can’t predict that we are going to do it six times or we are going to do it once. We may call five and it only happens twice. It’s hard to say."

Philbin was then asked if he would like to see quarterback Ryan Tannehill make it more a priority to throw the deep route during the game. Philbin laughingly replied, ""If it’s open. I like 50-yard completions, if that’s what you are asking."

Tannehill was then asked if he would like to continue to throw the deep pass as often as he did against the Patriots. He responded, "It just depends on how the game unfolds. We go into each game with an idea, a plan of how we want to attack each team. There’s been a lot of games where we’ve called probably that many shots. It just hasn’t worked out where we can get the ball off or got the right look. It’s a full picture that has to fit together. Of course, if we’re calling those shots, we’d love to get the right looks and hit them.

"I was happy with them," Tannehill added when asked how he personally felt about his deep throws. "There’s one I would like to have back to Rishard (Matthews) down the left side (near the end of the first half). But other than that, I felt pretty good about them."

Wide receiver Mike Wallace was asked why the Dolphins do not dictate matchups against opposing defenses that allow for the deep ball more often. "There’s not one person I can’t run past, not one," wallace replied, "but there are a lot of factors that come into (deep throws). You can’t just say, ‘Because Mike can run fast we can just throw it deep.’ I don’t think it’s that easy. We have other factors going into the play. It takes 11 guys, not just one or two guys. I think our coaches do a lot of studying, they do a lot of film work, so they know what they are doing. There’s a reason behind everything. Sometimes we don’t even know what the reason is, but you can’t question everything. I’m pretty sure, at the end of the last game, at the end of the half, I’m sure there were a lot of people questioning Coach (Joe) Philbin for calling those timeouts, but, at the end of day, it worked out well for us. It was the best call I’ve probably ever seen in football by him doing that. You can’t question everything, even though that’s your (the media) job. That’s not my job. My job is to go out there and play. You are asking the questions. I don’t really have an answer for you on that one. You will have to ask our coaches."

Rookie wide out Jarvis Landry, who leads the team with 71 receptions this year, seemed to be the player left out in the deep attack last week, instead relying on his work in the underneath routes. Asked why he is not targeted on the deep throws, Landry responded, "I get my fair share of intermediate passes. That suffices for all the deep balls. I think, for me, it’s be able to do what I do underneath to allow those guys to get open and those guys to do what they do over the top to allow me to get open underneath. It’s a real good thing."

The Dolphins face the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, and will likely look to continue the deep attack. Miami can earn their first winning season since 2008 with a win over Minnesota and a win against the New York Jets in Week 17.