Slow starts, finishes plague Dolphins' offense

Eric Goska
View Comments
Scoring plays have been few and far between for the Miami Dolphins in the opening and closing quarters of games since 2012.

Those of us who need that extra nudge to get going in the morning only to lose steam by suppertime have a kindred spirit in the Miami Dolphins.

Put simply: no team has scored fewer first-quarter or fewer fourth-quarter points since 2012 than Miami.

The Packers, among the best at posting points in those two periods, take on the Dolphins Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. For Green Bay, this game might be its best opportunity to get out front early, or, failing that, hang tight knowing a late rally is a distinct possibility.

While much about professional football can get complicated, the idea of scoring couldn't be any simpler (or more obvious). Teams that score often tend to rise to the top. Those that don't, fall by the wayside.

The Broncos (1,203 points) and Patriots (1,124) are the top scorers since 2012. They have been the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, on the AFC side of the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Jaguars (569) and Jets (650) can be found at the bottom. They've been a combined 21-53 (.284) with no postseason appearances.

The Dolphins (701) reside in the same zip code as the Jaguars and Jets as far as scoring goes. That they have won almost as often as they have lost (17-19) is a due to a defense that hasn't allowed them to be outscored as badly as Jacksonville or New York.

Miami seemingly needs that extra cup of coffee to rouse itself. It has scored a league-low 103 first-quarter points since Joe Philbin became coach in 2012.

The Dolphins have failed to score in the opening 15 minutes 17 times in their last 36 games. Only the Cardinals and Redskins have been shut out that many times.

This shortage of points should give pause. Teams without a score in the first quarter have gone 147-271-1 (.352) over the past two seasons-plus.

Miami has difficulty closing out the day as well. Its 153 fourth-quarter points are also a league-low.

The Dolphins have failed to score in the fourth quarter 16 times in their last 36 games. The Bills (14) and Jaguars (14) are next in line.

This struggle to effect change on the scoreboard in the late going is also cause for concern. Teams without a score in the fourth quarter have earned a record of 77-218 (.261).

Furthermore, late rallies become all but impossible with limited scoring power. Under Philbin, the Dolphins are 1-14 in games in which they trail after three quarters.

While teams that struggle to post points in either the first or fourth quarters have their problems, those that fail to do so in both quarters might consider staying in bed. There have been 113 instances of teams going without points in both the first and fourth quarter of the same game since 2012. The pointless have prevailed but 10 times.

A league-high 10 of those 113 games have involved the Dolphins including two this season. Buffalo only allowed them to score in the third quarter in beating them 29-10 in Week 2. Kansas City left open the middle two quarters in its 34-15 victory a week later.

So how does Green Bay fit in? With 984 points, the Packers rank a notch below the upper tier of Broncos, Patriots and Saints (1,007).

In addition, Green Bay isn't bad in the opening and closing quarters either where its scoring ranks eighth and sixth, respectively. As do most teams, it wins more often than it loses when scoring in one or both of those periods.

One final note of caution for Miami: its 10 fourth-quarter points are the second fewest behind San Francisco's nine this season. The previous four teams to finish last in fourth-quarter scoring – the 2013 Buccaneers (4-12), the 2012 Chiefs (2-14), the 2011 Rams (2-14) and the 2010 Panthers (2-14) – each fired their head coach after misery-filled seasons.

Underscoring starts and finishes

Since 2012, teams with the most scoreless first and fourth quarters.

No. Team (1Q,4Q) Record

33 Dolphins (17,16) 17-19

30 Jaguars (16,14) 6-31

28 Bills (14,14) 15-24

28 Eagles (15,13) 18-19

28 Redskins (17,11) 14-23

28 Texans (15,13) 17-21

27 Jets (14,13) 15-22

Regular-season series

Overall: Miami leads 10-3

At Sun Life Stadium: Dolphins lead 4-1

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (61-31 overall; 0-1 vs. Miami)

Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill (17-19; 0-0 vs. Green Bay)

Once a Dolphin, now a Packer

There are no former Dolphins on the Packers' roster.

Once a Packer, now a Dolphin

Guard Daryn Colledge (2006-10) is a former Packer.

View Comments