Take an objective look at the Miami Dolphins offense, which ranks eighth in scoring at 24.9 points per game, and discover a dirty little secret: They don’t consistently score touchdowns against good teams.
Late last season, when the Dolphins defense got hot, outsiders said it was because they did it against a second-tier quarterback group.
The Dolphins offense has done something similar so far this year, beating second-ranked opponents.
With all the credit thrown the Dolphins’ way, and rightfully so, for coach Mike McDaniel’s creative offense, the accuracy of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the greatness of wide receiver Tyreek Hill, this offense doesn’t consistently score touchdowns against good teams.
It’s an affliction he’s been battling all season.
Get ready for a lot of numbers.
— In seven games against teams with a record of .500 or better, the Dolphins have averaged 21.1 points per game.
Subtract the 42-38 win over Baltimore and the Dolphins have averaged 17.7 points in six games against teams with a record of .500 or better.
— In five games against losing teams, the Dolphins have averaged 30.2 points per game.
Subtract the 16-10 win over Pittsburgh, and the Dolphins have averaged 33.8 points per game in four games against teams with losing records.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins offense, this week’s opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers, has a .500 record.
— Looking ahead, only one opponent among the five remaining — Green Bay (5-8) — is below .500.
The Chargers (6-6) and New England (6-6) are right at .500; Buffalo (9-3) and New York Jets (7-5) are over .500.
It’s a tough road to the playoffs, and yes, the Dolphins will need more from their offense.
The Dolphins are 3-4 against opponents with a record of .500 or better. They have a four-game losing streak against opponents that are .500 or better and a three-game losing streak against opponents that are .500 or better.
The reason the offense needs to do more is because it’s the Dolphins’ strength.
We all know the Dolphins offense struggled early this season. He scored more than 21 points just once in the first seven games, and that was a 42-point outburst in Baltimore.
Then, for a brief period, the offense got hot, scoring more than 30 points per game in four straight games against struggling teams – Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Houston.
But last week, the offense dropped 17 points in a 33-17 loss to San Francisco.
The Dolphins offense needs to find a way to score more touchdowns.
The Dolphins’ 24 touchdowns, two of which came from the defense, rank fourth in the NFL.
However, in those seven games against teams with a record of .500 or better, the Dolphins offense scored more than two touchdowns just twice — six against Baltimore and three against Buffalo. In the other five games, the offense produced two touchdowns against the Jets, Vikings and 49ers and one touchdown against the Patriots and Bengals.
None of this is meant to rip the Dolphins offense or imply that the Dolphins have a bad offense or that the offense is overrated. This is not a matter of offense versus defense. And it’s not anti-Tua or anti-McDaniel or anti-anything.
All of this simply adds up to the fact that the Dolphins need more touchdowns from their offense when playing quality opponents.
Whether you consider the charger a quality opponent is debatable.
Yes, they’re a .500 team, but they’re 14th in scoring (22.7 ppg) and 30th in points allowed (25.8 ppg).
But when you consider that the Dolphins offense could be without left tackle Terron Armstead, all bets are off. Pass protection suffers when they don’t play. So is run blocking.
Speaking of the run, it would help a lot if the Dolphins could run the ball. He ranks 28th in rushing with 89.7 yards per game. Their 269 attempts are 30th.
Meanwhile, their 430 pass attempts are 12th. It’s a pretty predictable offense from that point of view.
You could argue that the disparity between runs and passes indicates that the Dolphins’ offense is playing power, which is a good thing. And we know the Dolphins offense is better than the defense, so again, go to your strength.
Let’s not let the defense slip away. It has to be even better. The defense has allowed at least 27 points in every road game this season. With Sunday’s game against the Chargers on the road, that trend needs to change quickly.
The bottom line is that the Dolphins offense needs to score more touchdowns in these five remaining games, which are mostly against winning teams.
You don’t want to think about “or else…”