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Unlike most NFL teams, the Miami Dolphins will not be taking Tuesday off. Head coach Joe Philbin decided to fore-go the team's usual off-day in order to give his team the chance to make extra preparations for their Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We're coming off a West Coast trip, we're coming off two tough losses, we're going to play a very good team, on the road again," Philbin said Monday. "We've got to strap it up, we've got to get to work. I told our staff we need to have a good, solid game plan against these guys, we've got to get our guys to play hard and to believe in themselves and play our tails off."
The Dolphins blew leads of 13-0 and 21-14 on Sunday, falling in overtime for the second straight week after holding a fourth-quarter lead. The Dolphins are the 15th team in NFL history to lose in overtime in consecutive weeks, according to STATS LLC.
Despite his team's ability to come apart at the worst possible moment, Philbin remains upbeat. When he was asked Monday if he feels better about his team now than he did at the start of the regular season, he replied, "Absolutely. Absolutely. No question about it."
Still, Philbin understands the problems that are ailing his team, and atop that list is the Dolphins' -5 turnover margin (worse than all but 5 teams in the NFL). "The turnover margin, for every statistical guru, is the No. 1 measurement in winning or losing games and we lost that margin again and lost the game," he said.
The Dolphins have proven that dictum throughout the season. Miami committed three turnovers in the second quarter of its season-opening loss to the Houston Texans. Houston scored 24 points that quarter, putting the game out of reach.
And on Sunday, turnovers bit the Dolphins once again. Two late turnovers by quarterback Ryan Tannehill (one fumble, one interception) set up the Arizona Cardinals' game-tying and game-winning scores.
Maybe an extra day of practice can help the Dolphins right the ship in time for Sunday's match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that seems unlikely upon realizing that the team has had about 50 practices since the start of training camp in August.
If one extra practice could actually transform the Dolphins into a fundamentally sound football team, the coaching staff probably would not have waited until Week 5 to try it.