Another slow start for Miami Dolphins at one-quarter mark
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Twelve months ago, when the Miami Dolphins lost on the road to fall to 1-3, they fired their coach.
Now they're again 1-3 after another away defeat, which shows their progress. Or lack thereof.
The offense still sputters, with the line unable to carve out running room or keep pass rushers off Ryan Tannehill. The defense still gives up too many scoring drives and can't come up with enough big plays.
But the coach isn't going anywhere. Adam Gase is still in the honeymoon phase in his first season, and confident he can fix his team's many problems.
''I don't think we're off-course,'' Gase said Friday. ''Everybody wants to just, `The sky is falling.' You've got to keep working. Good teams keep working.''
The Dolphins aren't a good team yet, as Thursday's 22-7 loss at Cincinnati showed. They managed only eight first downs, while the defense gave up five scoring drives of 45 yards or more and didn't have a takeaway.
Miami's record isn't surprising - all three losses have been on the road against 2015 playoff teams - but the mostly dismal performances have been distressing. The lone win was in overtime against lowly Cleveland, which came within a last-second field goal of an upset.
''I hope everybody's uncomfortable at this point,'' defensive end Cameron Wake said. ''You don't want to be in this situation.''
Gase, a former offensive coordinator and Miami's play caller, is unhappy mostly with the inability to move the ball. But he said his offense also sputtered early in the season in 2015 at Chicago and in 2012 in Denver, when the quarterback was Peyton Manning.
''It's no fun going through this part of it,'' Gase said. ''But the way this offense goes, the longer you're in it, the easier it gets and the faster you can play.''
Tannehill sounded even less patient than his coach about the lack of productivity.
''It has gone on too long,'' Tannehill said. ''It has to be important to everyone who steps on that field. We have to get it fixed right now.''
In defense of the Dolphins, they did play without six injured starters at Cincinnati, while Gase benched a seventh, cornerback Byron Maxwell, who didn't get on the field. His replacement, Tony Lippett, struggled A.J. Green , who caught 10 passes for 173 yards and a score.
Three-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who missed the first four games with a hip injury, is expected to return to practice Monday and bolster a line that has been awful. The Bengals sacked Tannehill five times, had seven knockdowns and 10 hurries, and forced him to fumble.
Tannehill draws criticism for indecision when the pocket's collapsing, and Gase acknowledged there's room for improvement, but added: ''We need to do a better job of actually blocking guys, too. Everybody wants him to step up. Where?''
The players are off this weekend and then have four consecutive home games: against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets, who are a combined 5-7.
Gase said he'll spend this weekend evaluating the first four games. He wants to pare down a four-running back rotation.
Will there be other lineup changes?
'' I don't really foresee anything, but things can change over the next three days,'' Gase said.
Lippett remains a starter for now, he said.
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