Redskins

Sputtering offense plagues Dolphins

201211152004722488128-p2.jpeg

Sputtering offense plagues Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Nothing comes easily these days for the Miami Dolphins. The lone touchdown scored by their offense in the past 2½ games was awarded only after a replay review.

The unit led by rookie Ryan Tannehill has stalled during a three-game losing streak, and so has the franchise's turnaround under first-year coach Joe Philbin.

"Obviously we need to make some improvements quickly," Philbin said Friday, barely 12 hours after a 19-14 loss at Buffalo. The defeat dropped his team to 4-6 and quashed playoff talk, at least for now.

The only touchdown by the offense came with nine minutes left on a 2-yard pass from Tannehill to Davone Bess that was initially ruled incomplete. The reversal ended a streak of 27 consecutive offensive possessions without a TD.

Miami totaled a season-low 184 yards one week after managing 255 yards and three points against Tennessee. The recent lack of productivity is especially disturbing because the Titans and Bills have given up the most points in the NFL.

"The past two games, we haven't been good at all," running back Reggie Bush said. "We really haven't done much."

Bush totaled 41 yards rushing over the past two games, and the Dolphins have slipped to fourth-worst in the league in rushing yards per carry at 3.6.

Their team quarterback rating of 72.3 is also fourth-worst.

That's the wrong kind of offensive balance. Against Buffalo, Miami averaged a meager 4.0 yards per pass play and 3.3 per carry.

"We couldn't run the ball, and we couldn't throw the ball either," Bush said. "When you can't do either one, it's a recipe for disaster."

Tannehill showed steady improvement early in the season but regressed recently, throwing five interceptions in a five-day span. All 11 of his interceptions this year have come in defeats.

The rookie said the offense's recent woes are frustrating but educational.

"I feel like I'm getting better. I feel like I'm learning a lot," Tannehill said. "Obviously you can't turn the ball over, and that's a big problem right now. I realize that throwing five picks in the last two games is a big problem and one that needs to be addressed."

Philbin said Tannehill's decision-making of late has been good aside from "a couple of lapses," and the coach stressed that his quarterback is far from the lone culprit in the scoring slump.

"We haven't made enough plays around him, and he hasn't made enough plays," Philbin said. "Sometimes it's the protection, sometimes it's the route, sometimes it's a penalty, sometimes it's the lack of a running game. It's a variety of issues. We haven't discriminated."

Defense also shares responsibility for the losing streak, as the scoreboard would suggest: In the past 2½ quarters Miami has been outscored 65-20.

Big plays have been a season-long problem on both sides of the ball. The offense lacks a deep threat at receiver, while the secondary is prone to breakdowns.

As a result, Miami has gained at least 20 yards on 29 plays while giving up 46 such plays, by far the worst disparity in the NFL.

Turnover differential is another source of consternation. The Dolphins rank third-worst at minus nine, and in the past two games they've committed seven turnovers while coming up with no takeaways.

"That's not good enough," Philbin said. "I'm embarrassed; I'm the head coach. That's one thing we preach all the time."

The weekend off will give the Dolphins extra time to assess the situation before heading into the toughest part of their schedule, beginning Nov. 25 against Seattle.

"You've got to make the plays that are available," defensive end Cameron Wake said. "The Bills made more than we did, and honestly, that's the same old song and dance. I feel like a broken record, and I'm getting tired of it. It's got to change, and it's got to change fast."

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

scherffvideo102918.jpg
USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

anibal_sanchez_nationals_pitching_usat.jpg
USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

 

NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.