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Here’s one drastic improvement the Miami Dolphins have made during their 3-9 season

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 12/3/2019 By Safid Deen, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea tried to be modest.

But he is aware of a distinct area of improvement his offense has made during the team’s turbulent season.

The Dolphins (3-9) may not have many opportunities to score in the red zone, but they are making the most of them.

Miami has gone from worst in the NFL to fourth with their red-zone conversions, capitalizing with touchdowns on 67.7 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line.

The Dolphins have taken pride in improving their play-calling, fundamentals and technique when the field gets shortened, producing 21 red-zone touchdowns.

“I think in the red zone overall offensively, it’s been an area we’ve really prided ourselves and we’ve had success this year statistically in the red zone,” O’Shea said Tuesday, following his best game of the season as Miami’s offensive coordinator, a 37-31 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

“I think during our bye week we were dead last or near the bottom of the league in red zone, and now we’ve gone up statistically quite a bit in the area.”

Quite a bit? How about 28 spots in the rankings.

O’Shea was being humble. He knows the Dolphins still have plenty to do to continue showing marked improvements offensively during the final four games.

But the Dolphins coaching staff should be praised for the considerable improvement made following the first month of the season.

In the Dolphins’ first four games, their 16.7 red-zone touchdown percentage was 32nd in the NFL. Since the bye in Week 6, Miami has converted 80 percent of red-zone possessions into touchdowns. That’s tops in the NFL during that span.

Miami only trails former starter Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans (71.9%), the Green Bay Packers (70%) and the Minnesota Vikings (68.3%) in red-zone conversions.

However, the Dolphins could also use more attempts in the red zone.

Miami’s 31 red-zone trips rank fifth least in the league, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers (35.5%), and ahead of the Denver Broncos (29, 44.8%), Washington Redskins (28, 35.7%) and New York Jets (23, 60.9%).

For context, half of all NFL teams have more than 40 red-zone trips.

O’Shea credits an improved mindset of his players, especially the veteran savvy and leadership skills of starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, for the improvement.

“I think that’s because of the players’ preparation, and just embracing what we’re trying to do from a scheme standpoint,” O’Shea said.

“I think it’s a mentality when we get the ball in the red zone, we want to be aggressive. And Fitz (Fitzpatrick) has to do with a lot of success when we’re in the red zone as well.”

The Dolphins had their best offensive showing against the Eagles, recording season highs in points (37), total yards (409), touchdowns (five) and scoring on five straight possessions.

That all happened with Fitzpatrick leading an offense with just four healthy receivers — led by a rejuvenated DeVante Parker — an improved tight end Mike Gesicki, receiver Albert Wilson running from the Wildcat formation and just two running backs after Kalen Ballage left with an injury.

O’Shea credited his players for knowing the offense well enough to understand their assignments while comprehending other roles, too. That knowledge has led to seamless adjustments the Dolphins have been able to capitalize on.

“I’ve said all along that our team has done a really good job in preparation of trying to learn the game plan from a conceptual perspective for each of them, so they could play a different role than previous weeks,” O’Shea said.

“The team did a good job of embracing some of the things they had to do different. It’s a tribute to them, their work ethic and their preparation.”


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