In each of the past two weeks, Miami Dolphins coaches have emphasized the team's need to revive its moribund rushing attack. That sentiment was repeated again on Monday, when head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman spoke at the team's weekly press conference.
The Dolphins rushed for just 198 yards combined over the past three games, all losses. The team is averaging 3.6 yards a carry, 28th in the NFL, after starting the season with one of the league's best running games.
"Everything jells around the run game," Sherman said. "If you can run the ball, you can throw the ball. It just makes life a lot easier."
Miami's overall offensive numbers have also lagged as the run game has faltered. The Dolphins gained just 184 yards in last week's loss at Buffalo, their worst game on offense of the season.
Sherman's play-calling has come under fire during the losing streak, as the Dolphins have only attempted 24, 15, and 18 rushes in the last three games. That seems quite low considering Miami's most dynamic player on offense is RB Reggie Bush. He is averaging 14 carries a game, but only rushed the ball 24 times during the team's current three-game losing streak.
Philbin defended Sherman's play-calling and instead pointed at the execution of his scheme. "Collectively we have a good bit of experience in the league as a staff," Philbin said. "I think we know things that can work in this league, and things that aren't real sound and don't work."
Sherman echoed Philbin's sentiment. "My goal is obviously for us to be better than we are right now, which isn't very good," Sherman said. "We need to function better as an offense."
Making the situation all the more confounding is the fact that Miami's last two opponents, Tennessee and Buffalo, are not good running defenses. Buffalo gives up more yards per carry than any team in the NFL, while the Titans are tenth-worst.
Up next for Miami are the Seattle Seahawks, one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Seattle gives up 4.8 yards per play, fourth best in the NFL. It will not get any easier to solve Miami's rushing problem, which could mean trouble for the Dolphins during the season's final stretch.