Dolphins coach Dan Campbell wants more 'attitude' in running game

The expected return of OT Branden Albert could bolster the Dolphins' anemic running game. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

DAVIE, Fla. – There are plenty of negative adjectives to describe the running game of the Miami Dolphins. This is an aspect of Miami’s offense that has been inefficient, inconsistent and unsuccessful.

The Dolphins (1-3) are on a three-game losing streak and part of that reason is their 31st-ranked running game. Miami is averaging just 69.3 rushing yards per game and too often has become one dimensional. Only the winless Detroit Lions (0-5) have a worse running game at 49 rushing yards per game.

With Miami changing head coaches from Joe Philbin to Dan Campbell, the Dolphins are putting a renewed focus this week on establishing the run and having a tougher mentality on offense when they return to the field on Sunday to face the Tennessee Titans (1-3).

“I do believe when you’re talking about the fronts, O-line and D-line, it starts with an attitude and the culture, it’s always been that way,” Campbell said. “I’ve been a part of some offensive lines that do not have the athletic ability anywhere near what we have on this team. You can argue, ‘Well, you guys whatever we are upfront,’ but my point those guys had attitude and they were scrappy and they finished every play and we had a better run game because of it.”

Offensive line was a major concern for Miami entering the season, particularly the two guard positions occupied by the struggling Dallas Thomas and rookie Jamil Douglas. That remains the case. The hamstring injury to starting left tackle Branden Albert, who missed the past two games, also hurt the offensive line. But Albert is expected to return against the Titans.

The Dolphins too often give up on the run early, especially when falling behind. Miami has been outscored 37-3 in the first quarter, which has forced the team to pass at a much higher ratio in the final three quarters to try to mount a comeback. That formula worked only once, in the opener against the Washington Redskins. The other three times resulted in defeat.

Campbell said there will be some “tweaks” schematically to Miami’s offense. But do not expect the team to completely change its scheme under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Campbell hopes the difference in mentality and intensity will be the most notable changes in the Dolphins against Tennessee, especially with the offensive line.

“We’re trying to change the attitude of those guys up front,” Campbell said. “It’s about finish, we need a little bit nastier attitude -- we need a lot nastier attitude. That’s one. Two is, we’ll do some things schematically that will help those guys up front, that’s what I alluded to earlier about letting them play a little bit more together or to be able to come off together and tee off and understand they can work together a little bit better without feeling like they’re on an island, I guess you can say.”