MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP)When asked his thoughts on the Miami Dolphins’ historic start to the season, coach Mike McDaniel raised his eyebrows and smirked.
“Mission accomplished,” McDaniel said sarcastically. “We had the whole time, the whole offseason, that was our goal – was output after five games.”
Miami has totaled 2,568 yards of offense – the most by any NFL team through five games. But McDaniel knows the Dolphins (4-1) haven’t reached their ceiling, and continued improvement is necessary if the team wants to make a deep playoff run.
“All that means is that people are going to give you their best shot,” McDaniel said, “and you’d better continue to work and progress in your game if you’re going to be satisfied because you’re going to have a bullseye on your back.”
During their 31-16 win over the undermanned New York Giants on Sunday, the Dolphins had some offensive miscues that could be a problem against a tougher opponent – like the Eagles, Chiefs or Bills, all of whom are on the schedule.
Tua Tagovailoa had two interceptions, one of which was returned 102 yards for a touchdown. He also threw for 308 yards and two scores. The Dolphins had 524 yards of total offense and averaged nearly 10 yards per play.
“If we just stuck with our plan and we stuck with our rules for each play, I think things were going really smooth,” Tagovailoa said. “There were just times where we were misaligned, things didn’t play within the structure of our offense and things just got out of hand with some plays.”
McDaniel has repeated the importance of progress from one game to the next, and the Dolphins showed improvements on defense after a poor performance against Buffalo last Sunday.
Miami didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and limited the Giants to 85 yards rushing.
“We came together as a defense and we told each other that we had to play as one,” linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel said. “Play as a team and everybody do your job so when you can come out and put pressure on the quarterback and get DBs playing aggressive. We were really shutting down receivers, that’s what it is all about.”
Balance on offense. Miami’s run game was inconsistent last year, but this season the Dolphins are wearing teams down with their No. 1-ranked rushing offense.
Rookie De’Von Achane had 11 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown against the Giants.
“You don’t just expect that for the rookie to come up and perform the way I have been performing,” Achane said. “So I just hope that I can keep it up.”
His success opens up even more opportunities for the Dolphins’ potent passing game. Tyreek Hill had eight catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Turnovers have been an issue the past two weeks. After fumbling twice in a Week 4 loss at Buffalo, the Dolphins had three giveaways Sunday. Also, pre-snap penalties were an issue for the second straight game.
The defensive front. Miami took advantage of a banged-up Giants offensive line and finished with seven sacks and 14 quarterback hits. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins had probably his best game of the season, and tackle Zach Sieler had two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss.
Rookie cornerback Cam Smith. After a strong training camp, it seemed that Miami’s second-round pick could be a big contributor, especially with Jalen Ramsey injured and Nik Needham working his way back from an Achilles tendon tear. Smith has barely seen the field and only got action on special teams Sunday.
McDaniel said Monday that Achane is being evaluated for a knee injury. … LG Isaiah Wynn left in the fourth quarter with a neck injury.
500 – The Dolphins have topped 500 yards of total offense three times this season.
The Dolphins will host the winless Carolina Panthers next Sunday, which could provide an opportunity to clean up their mistakes before their Sunday night showdown at Philadelphia on Oct. 22.
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