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Sputtering offense plagues Dolphins

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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."

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler