NFL Wire News

Miami makes red zone improvement a priority


The Sports Xchange

DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, mindful his team was 21st in the NFL in red zone touchdowns last season, said this year’s red zone success rests on his shoulders.

“Let’s put it on me,” Lazor said.

Miami was 11th in the NFL in scoring at 24.3 points per game, its best showing in coach Joe Philbin’s three seasons in charge. But the Dolphins traded touchdowns for field goals far too often.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who cited red zone improvement as a goal two months ago, has new weapons this season among rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker, veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings, tight end Jordan Cameron and rookie running back Jay Ajayi. They’ll join running back Lamar Miller and wide receiver Jarvis Landry in trying to improve Miami’s red zone performance.

Still, Lazor said red zone efficiency is his responsibility as offensive coordinator.

“We’ve put the responsibility on me to evaluate the guys that we have and to use each of them the way they can best be used in the red zone,” he said. “That’s the promise I’ve made to them.”

–Right tackle Ja’Wuan James is staying at right tackle. It’s a new way of thinking from Miami coaches.

Last season when left tackle Branden Albert (knee) was injured, James shifted to Albert’s spot and Jason Fox played right tackle. This season, with Albert still sidelined, Fox is playing left tackle and James is staying at right tackle.

“When I watch him play that right tackle spot,” Lazor said, “I think the guy is going to be a really good player.”

–Miami’s defensive line, despite the loss of tackles Randy Starks (released) and Jared Odrick (departed via free agency), showed during OTAs it is still the best unit on the team. Of course, with the addition of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the defensive line should be pretty good at the least.

The starting front four of tackles Suh and Earl Mitchell and ends Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon, was dominant. And the backup front four of tackles Anthony Johnson and Jordan Phillips and ends Derrick Shelby and Terrence Fede also made a living in the backfield.

Granted, the Dolphins’ offensive line might be the weakest unit on the team, especially with Albert (knee) sidelined.

But the expected defensive line depth could be a positive statement for Miami’s ability to develop players. Only two of the top eight defensive linemen — Suh and Mitchell — came to the team as free agents. The other six were developed by the Dolphins.

–Albert, safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Will Davis all sustained torn ACLs in their right knee during the season. But while Delmas and Davis are making rapid recoveries, Albert, who also tore his MCL, probably won’t be ready until opening day.

Delmas is making such rapid progress the Dolphins think he’s still on course to be ready for the June 16-18 minicamp. Davis is expected to be ready for training camp. Both were limited during OTAs.

Albert didn’t participate at all; he’s still doing rehabilitation work.

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