Dolphins need road turnaround to stay in playoff mix
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins need to figure out how to win on the road, since that’s where they’ll be if they make the playoffs.
And if they don’t win Sunday at Minnesota , there probably won’t be a postseason for Miami.
The Dolphins (7-6) remain in contention for an AFC wild-card berth thanks to Kenyan Drake’s improbable touchdown on the final play Sunday to beat New England. But there have been no miracles on the road, where coach Adam Gase’s team is 1-5 and has been outscored 177-103.
That includes losses of 38-7 at New England and 42-23 at Houston, and blown double-digit fourth-quarter leads at Cincinnati and at Indianapolis.
What’s the problem?
“It’s a little bit of probably everything,” Gase said.
The issue actually dates to last season. The Dolphins have lost 10 of their past 11 away games and have been outscored 350-170.
They’re simply a different team at home, where this year they swept all three AFC East opponents. Their division road record is 0-2.
“If I tell you our guys don’t get a little more amped up for the division opponents at home, I’d be fibbing,” associate head coach Darren Rizzi said. “There’s a little bit more extra incentive there.”
Motivation shouldn’t be an issue the rest of the way, home or away. To make the postseason for only the third time since 2001, the Dolphins likely need to sweep their final three games.
And two of those are on the road. Can Miami pull off another miracle?
“We just hope we have more wins,” Drake said. “I hope it doesn’t come down to any more miracles, because I don’t think my heart can take any more of that.”
Drake’s game-winner kept Miami in the playoff picture despite a road record that’s the worst among contending teams. Gase dismisses the mindset of his players as the problem.
“I don’t see a difference in the way they prepare, the focus,” he said. “Guys are wired in at the opposing stadium. The energy, the attitude — I don’t see a dropoff.”
In victories the past two weeks, the Dolphins wore their 1960s-style uniforms, so maybe a throwback look on the road would help.
Gase has tried everything else. Since becoming coach in 2016 he has experimented with changes in the travel routine, including altering the departure day, in search of a better road result.
This week Miami will leave on Friday.
“Over the last three years we’ve tried as many different things as we can,” Gase said, “even talking to some of the veteran players to see if there’s something strange about why we haven’t won on the road.”
A solution has proved elusive. Under Gase, Miami is 16-7 at home and 7-16 on the road.
“Obviously it’s something we need to improve,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “It’s definitely something we look forward to correcting this week.”
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine.