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Why are the Miami Dolphins struggling to score points?

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NFL: Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Miami Dolphins scored an offensive touchdown, there was 4:55 remaining in the third quarter against the Houston Texans on Thursday night in Week 8 as Danny Amendola threw a pass to Kenyan Drake. The Dolphins scored two touchdowns in that game, with Drake having run one in with 4:58 to play in the first period.

Brock Osweiler last threw for a touchdown with six minutes remaining in the team’s Week 7 loss to the Detroit Lions.

It has been a futile run for Miami’s offense, with play calling, poor play from Osweiler, poor blocking from the offensive line, a struggling running game, penalties, and some key drops all to blame. Most of those could be seen as excuses, as all teams have to deal with drops, penalties, and the rest of them. All teams have to deal with injuries too - but it sure seems like the Dolphins have had to deal with so many more.

Over his seven year career, there have always been mitigating circumstances for why Ryan Tannehill has not succeeded. Call them excuses. Call them reasons. They are there and they are real.

Now, it appears head coach Adam Gase’s tenure may also have mitigating circumstances, excuses, and reasons for a 21-21 record mid-way through his third season. Losing your starting quarterback as your team heads to the playoffs, then not having him back for your second season is harsh. A hurricane uprooting your team, taking away the bye week, and sending the team into chaos is harsh. A starting linebacker going AWOL the night before your first game is harsh. A position coach snorting powder off his desk and sending the video to a Las Vegas entertainer is harsh. Everything about the last couple of years has been harsh.

And, the injuries are probably the harshest of them all. The Dolphins finished the 2017 season with 16 players on injured reserve, including players like Tannehill, tackle Ja’Wuan James, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, guard Anthony Steen, defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, and safety Michael Thomas. And, somehow, 2018 has become even worse.

The defense has been hit hard by injuries, including linebacker Chase Allen, defensive end William Hayes, cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, and defensive tackle Vincent Taylor all on injured reserve. The team was also without defensive ends Charles Harris and Jonathan Woodard against the Packers, plus Andre Branch appeared to injure his shoulder during the game - though he was not reported as injured during the game - and cornerback Bobby McCain left the game with a head injury after being blindsided.

But, the offense tips the scales from a lot of injuries to levels of ridiculousness. You can literally build a starting lineup for a team, and have a pretty decent lineup, with Miami’s injury situation right now:

  • QB: Ryan Tannehill (missed 5 games)
  • LT: Laremy Tunsil (missed Sunday’s game)
  • LG: Josh Sitton (IR)
  • C: Daniel Kilgore (IR)
  • RG: Ted Larsen (missed Sunday’s game)
  • RT: Ja’Wuan James (missed Sunday’s game)
  • TE: MarQueis Gray (IR)
  • WR: Albert Wilson (IR)
  • WR: Jakeem Grant (sustained possible major injury Sunday)
  • WR: DeVante Parker (missed 5 games, left Sunday with shoulder)

Kenyan Drake was dinged up during the Packers game, but it does not appear serious, so running back is the only position Miami cannot fill with a starter, while Larsen was playing left guard for Miami, but moves to the right in our all-injury team. The injury report for Miami’s offense does have backups for some of those positions, including quarterback Luke Falk (IR) and tight end Durham Smythe.

Miami’s offensive injuries are so encompassing of the roster right now that only one of the team’s opening-day starting offensive linemen, right guard Jesse Davis, was available against the Packers, and Jake Brendel, who started the year on injured reserve before being activated, became the third different starter at left guard this season.

It may be an excuse. It may be a reason. It is probably both. But, Adam Gase’s offensive woes may have more to do with the players who cannot get on the field right now than it does with his play calling. It may have more to do with the replacements that continue to have to try to fill in for injured starters than it does with anything wrong with foundation of the team.

You can argue the Dolphins should have depth ready to full in, but when 10 of 11 positions (or 11 of 11 if you go with two tight ends and three receivers) all have starters or top reserves injured and missing games, it is hard to say that any team would have quality depth at every position.

Miami’s struggles to score points are probably because of the talent the team cannot use right now.