These Dolphins willing to admit when scheme, details, execution should all be better

INGLEWOOD, Calif. − In the moments after a loss at the Chargers, in a tight-quarters visitors locker room, several Dolphins referenced the strong offensive and defensive plans of the opponent.

"They schemed us up well," Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips said.

"They game-planned really well," Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead said.

Those players were likely echoing post-game comments from head coach Mike McDaniel, who is a straight-shooter and who takes accountability.

"They executed a great game plan," McDaniel said after the game. "Their plan was better than ours."

Joe Schad's TakeawaysDolphins lose at Chargers as Tua Tagovailoa struggles

McDaniel is the head coach but also offensive play-designer and play-caller. And so it's on him to come up with a great plan to give Miami some chance to pull an upset at Buffalo.

It won't be easy. Miami's opponent on Saturday night is second in the NFL in scoring defense.

Chargers players said they didn't want to give Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle as much space to run into gaping zones as did previous opponents who feared their speed.

The Chargers defense also appeared to focus on limiting in-breaking routes from the dynamic duo. Instead, Los Angeles seemed to dare Tua Tagovailoa to make more challenging throws across the field and to the sidelines.

"You’re always adjusting," McDaniel said.

Dolphins offensive players have noted the lack of a rhythm in the last two losses.

"(The Chargers) did some things different than they've done all season really," Armstead said, adding there were some exotic and unique pressure looks.

"Shout out to those guys for making plays," Tyreek Hill said of the Chargers. "And shout out to just the defensive coordinator and coaches and all those guys."

Tyreek Hill scored two touchdowns against the Chargers, but says he can be better.
Tyreek Hill scored two touchdowns against the Chargers, but says he can be better.

None of this is to suggest that Miami players aren't also accepting responsibility.

"Lock in, lock in on the details," Armstead said. "I think that's what we've got to get better at more than anything. The small things, the details, alignment, assignment, you know, so we can play fast."

"I think just sticking to what we know and what we practice," Waddle said. "Trust the way we practice, trusting the small details that we learn throughout the week."

There were times when players tried to do more than their assignment and it hurt. A lap of gap integrity can be consequential in the offensive or defensive fronts.

"I just think we've got to lock back in, focus on the fundamentals focus on just like the little details," Phillips said. "At the end of the day, we can't beat ourselves."

Hill said fingers will not be pointed, including at Tua. Hill said he had a few plays that would make Tua look bad, when it wasn't really the quarterbacks' fault.

Added Waddle: "I don't think (Tua's) going waver, at all... His confidence isn't going anywhere."

Despite consecutive losses on a West Coast trip, Miami is still in good playoff position. There are even scenarios in which they can qualify with only two wins in the final four games.

McDaniel and his staff must adjust to how opponents are trying to take away their strengths. And the players must trust that their assignments will put the team in the best position to win.

"We've got to look in the mirror, you know, and just take accountability," Hill said.

"Lots to work on and a lot to improve," Armstead said. "We're not hanging our heads and getting discouraged. Confidence isn't lost at all. We've got a game Saturday."

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Dolphins have little time to prepare for Buffalo Bills