Following sloppy exhibition opener, Dolphins are still struggling to solve turnover problem
DAVIE, Fla. – Joe Philbin's mistake-correcting with the Miami Dolphins is taking longer than he would like.
The coach was unhappy that the Dolphins committed two costly turnovers in their exhibition opener. They returned to the practice field Tuesday, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw four interceptions.
The Dolphins were minus-10 in turnover differential last season and have made improvement there a priority.
"We have to get that cleaned up," offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. "I'm sure people are tired of hearing it. I'm tired of saying it."
Philbin said route running, protection and Tannehill's accuracy were all factors in the practice picks. In Sunday's 24-20 loss to Dallas, Tannehill took the blame for a lost fumble on the first play, and backup quarterback Matt Moore threw an interception that was tipped and returned for a touchdown.
The game was sloppy, as exhibition openers tend to be, with blocking, tackling and execution at the skill positions all an issue for the Dolphins.
They play at Jacksonville on Friday night. With the season opener a month away, what is Philbin's main concern?
"Everything," he said. "Our entire team. We're still in training camp and have a ton of stuff to work on. There's nothing we don't need work on. That's not uncommon this time of year. I'm not panicked about it. But I'm concerned about every single thing."
The first-team offense, minus two starting receivers, played only 10 plays against Dallas and didn't cross midfield. Tannehill went 2 for 5 for 11 yards.
Two days later, the unit again looked ragged.
"I'm frustrated by today," said Tannehill, a second-year pro. "It wasn't a good day. I made several mistakes. But on the whole I'm definitely moving in the right direction."
Receiver Brian Hartline (left calf) returned to practice, but receiver Mike Wallace (groin) remained sidelined. Wallace joined the Dolphins in March, when he signed a $60 million, five-year contract, and Tannehill said his return to the field will make a difference.
"Mike got paid a lot of money," Tannehill said. "Once we get him on the field and have our whole unit, I'm looking forward to that."
But Wallace can't stretch the field without good pass protection, and the offensive line looked shaky against the Cowboys, as it has for much of training camp. New left tackle Jonathan Martin was beaten on a pass rush, and rookie backup Dallas Thomas struggled.
Martin, a second-year pro, has moved from the right side to replace departed Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long.
"Any left tackle in this league in their second year is a work in progress," Sherman said. "It's a premier position. I'm pleased with Jonathan's progress. Does he have a ways to go? Yeah. But I expected that going in. He'll be a fine left tackle in this league, if not a really good one."
One bright spot has been 5-foot-10 slot receiver Chad Bumphis, an undrafted rookie. He made five catches against Dallas for 85 yards, although he had one drop, and appears to be a strong contender for a roster spot as a backup.
"He's not the fastest guy in the world, and not the biggest guy, and maybe that's why he ended up an undrafted free agent," Sherman said. "But I do think he's talented. He understands how to play that slot receiver, which is not an easy position. You have to be nifty and crafty. He appears to be that."
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