The Miami Dolphins are a little over a week into the Dan Campbell era, with the former tight ends coach taking over as interim head coach when Joe Philbin was fired following a Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. Campbell has talked about wanting to make the team more aggressive, more physical, and in need of getting back to starting fast and keeping up the pressure. His first practice as a head coach in the NFL began with the team running the Oklahoma drill, an event that has been all-but-eliminated from a league fighting concussions and injuries. The drill may have been unorthodox, but after a 1-3 start to the season, the Dolphins need some unorthodox to wake them up.
Last night, the NFL's Week 5 concluded, meaning everyone is on to Week 6, including the Dolphins who will face the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Can the Dolphins actually show up for a game for the first time this season? Will Campbell's adjustments have an impact? If the Dolphins are going to turn around a quickly sinking season, here are three things Campbell needs to address immediately.
1. The offensive line
I believe there will come a day when I can write an article about questions surrounding the Dolphins, and the offensive line will not be one of them. That day is not today. The offensive line has underwhelmed all season, and Campbell has to address this. Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas are playing like young players in need of time to develop, performing among the worst guards in the league. Jason Fox has had to fill in for most of the season for the oft-injured Branden Albert, who plays like a Pro Bowl left tackle when he is able to be on the field. The Dolphins should get Albert back this week, which will help, but unless Campbell can adjust the guard play, the offense will not be able to sort out their problems. At some point, the team must consider moving Mike Pouncey back to guard and either adding a center to the roster (Samson Satele?) or seeing if the team can block better with Sam Brenner at center than with Thomas and Douglas at the guard spots.
2. Run the ball.
Philbin preached a pass first offense, and that became the extreme for the Miami offense. The team simply does not try to run the ball. The offensive line play could be a part of it, but Bill Lazor has got to change his play calling to bring back the threat of the run in order to give Ryan Tannehill a chance at the passing game. Lamar Miller is coming off a 1,000-yard season, so Miami rewards him by giving him fewer carries than he was given last year. The Dolphins also need to find a way to move the ball on short yardage situations. Jonas Gray appears to have the power needed, but the team could also look to find a true fullback on the free agent market.
3. Attack the quarterback.
The mighty Dolphins defensive line featuring two All Pros has yet to appear this season. Cameron Wake has one tackle and Ndamukong Suh has 10 tackles. That is not a sack count, that is simply a tackle. Combined, the Miami starting defensive line, featuring Wake, Suh, Earl Mitchell, and Olivier Vernon, has zero sacks on the year. The only sack the entire Dolphins team has is from rookie Jordan Phillips, who has not even been active for every game this year. The strength of the 2015 Miami Dolphins was supposed to be their defense, led by an incredible pass rushing and run stuffing defensive line. Instead, they have one total sack and are allowing a league worst 160.5 rushing yards per game, more than 11 yards more than the next worst team. Campbell has to re-energize the Dolphins pass rush.