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Titans vs. Dolphins: Turnovers Continue to Be Miami's Kryptonite

Nov 11, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) on the bench in the fourth quarter in a game against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium. The Titans defeated the Dolphins 37-3. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
Erik FrenzSenior Writer IAugust 8, 2016

If the Miami Dolphins are going to remain contenders for the playoffs, they can't afford the ugly turnovers that led them to a 24-3 deficit against the Tennessee Titans and, ultimately, a 37-3 loss.

Never mind that such a huge loss does not put the Dolphins into the right category in early "contender or pretender" debates. It's relatively simple: The Dolphins are 4-0 when they win the turnover battle, and they are 0-5 when they draw even or lose the turnover battle.

The stunning part of that stat is that the Dolphins have only won the turnover battle by one in each of their four wins. On the flip side, the turnover margin in their five losses has them at minus-nine.

Today's margin was four, and three came in the first quarter. Reggie Bush fumbled, and the Titans capitalized with a touchdown. Ryan Tannehill threw two first-quarter interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, after having not turned the ball over once in the previous four games. 

He finished the game with three interceptions, breaking his streak of 107 consecutive passes thrown without a pick. 

The Dolphins offense is marked by its efficiency, not its deadliness. 

Their offense is not explosive enough to overcome such large deficits, and the defense doesn't generate enough turnovers to help them along the way. That's not a knock on a unit that ranks in the top five on third downs and in the red zone, hallmarks of a good defense, but if the Dolphins forced more turnovers (their 11 ranked No. 17 headed into Week 10), they would be hard to argue against as the best defense in the league.

Early turnovers are not always a death knell. We've seen teams make comebacks before, especially when they're able to stay clean on the turnover sheet later in the game as Miami was (minus one Tannehill interception in the fourth quarter). However, because they don't create a lot of turnovers on defense and don't create explosive plays on offense, if they're turning it over, the Dolphins are sitting ducks.

Three areas the Dolphins have thrived in were all points of struggle on Sunday. They allowed Tennessee to go 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) on third down, 3-of-4 in the red zone and rush for 177 yards and 4.8 per carry.

This was supposed to be the start of a strong second half of the season for the Dolphins, with a schedule that set them up to make a dream playoff run, but if they play as sloppily on offense and don't live up to their billing on defense as they did against the Titans, that could turn into a nightmare sooner than later.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.

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