MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Mark it down: The Miami Dolphins will not win a game this week.
Bye weeks are undefeated. And, at least in some corners of the Dolphins locker room right now, they’re also unwanted.
The Dolphins beat the New York Giants 20-9 on Sunday to run their winning streak to five games, continuing to eradicate some of the stench from the seven-game losing streak that immediately preceded this run of victories. They’re rolling right now, which explains why some players sound like they would happily forgo the four-day break from official team activities that starts Thursday.
“Me personally, I’d rather just keep going,” Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said. “We’re hot right now.”
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a slightly different perspective.
“I understand what Bake’s saying,” Tagovailoa said. “I think it goes both ways. You take some time off, but you’re not really taking time off.”
For starters, it’s not really a “bye week.” It’s more like a bye half-week, and that’s just from the physical side of football. Tagovailoa said the mental work would continue, and coach Brian Flores and players were in the facility on Monday. They’ll do a walk-through on Wednesday, Flores said.
From there, the mini-vacations can begin. Players and coaches, if they so choose, head out of town for some relaxation. Some may just stick close to home; after all, a recent cool snap is ending and temperatures in Miami by the end of the week will be in the low-to-mid 80s.
“Our guys have got to be smart,” Flores said. “They’ll have some time off, but my big message to them is be safe, spend some time with your family, go, enjoy yourself, relax -- but be safe. That’s the big thing. Enjoy yourselves. They’ve earned it, but be safe.”
Some found it puzzling that the Dolphins didn’t want their bye week after playing in London earlier this season. In the 60 instances to that point of a team playing in London since the NFL began its International Series in 2007, 55 had a bye week to follow. The Dolphins went a different route, as they did once before.
They kept working and, eventually, got on a winning streak.
“A lot was made of that and, I think, maybe opinions are different now,” Flores said of not having the post-London bye. “I don’t know. But like I said then, this is the schedule we have and we’re just going to play it out. It’s good to have some time right now for us to reassess, re-evaluate, and for the players to get some rest.”
Miami’s defense has given up 55 points in the five-game winning streak. The Dolphins have yielded only four touchdowns in those games, and one of those was an easy one set up by Cam Newton connecting on a 64-yard pass. Otherwise, field goals, turnovers or punts have been the end result of almost all opposing drives.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Dolphins were 6 for 14 on third downs against Carolina, then 6 for 15 this past week on third downs against the Giants. Those numbers are OK, certainly not bad, but in tougher games down the stretch sustaining drives might be crucial.
LB Jaelan Phillips. He’s the first Dolphins player since Cameron Wake in 2015 to have at least two sacks in back-to-back games. He’s the first rookie to do so for Miami since Marco Coleman in 1992.
K Jason Sanders. He’s up to six missed field goals this season, though Sanders made a big one at the end Sunday to put the game away. At 74% for the season, he’s on pace for his least-accurate year in the four he’s spent with Miami.
WR Will Fuller gets another week now to try and get back on the field. The Dolphins aren’t sure of the status of RB Patrick Laird, who left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. “We’re going to have a little extra time to let guys heal. We’re still running some tests and we’ll see where that is,” Flores said.
1 — number of teams that started 1-7 and then reached 7-7. That would be the 1974 New York Jets. The Dolphins will try to join that club when they play the Jets in their next game.
After this week off, the Dolphins play host to the Jets on Dec. 19.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press