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This week the Miami Dolphins will take part in the team’s first mandatory practice sessions since the end of last season. There have been a lot of changes to the makeup of the team since then and expectations are high that the Dolphins will end their runs of six years without making the playoffs and fourteen years without winning a playoff game.

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Miami’s mandatory minicamp’s will include three practices on consecutive days this week, beginning on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility in Davie, Florida.  While there are a lot of new faces and raising hopes for the upcoming season, the Dolphins are aware that there are several areas that they must improve in order to succeed in 2015.  Here are the top things they’ll need to work on this week.

Red Zone Offense

Last season no team reached the red zone more than the Dolphins, but they didn’t convert nearly enough of those opportunities into touchdowns.  Miami’s offense took a big step forward in 2014 under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor and expectations are that the unit should be even better in 2015.  A major way to keep the offense trending upwards is to score more touchdowns, especially in red zone situations.

Two-Minute Drill

One of the reasons that Miami’s two-minute drill has struggled is that the offense generally moves down the field on short-yardage plays.  When there is time to put a drive together than that’s fine, but when the clock is ticking down the offense needs to get chunk yardage quickly.

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Third Down Success Rate

This applies to both sides of the ball for the Dolphins. Due to the offense struggling to make plays down the field, they struggled mightily on third down and anything more than four or five yards to go.  On the defensive side of the ball it was way too often that they would force a third-and-long for their opponent but couldn’t stop them from making a first down.

Short Yardage Situations

An area that the Dolphins offense has struggled during the past two seasons has been in short yardage situations.  It wasn’t long ago when a 3rd or 4th down and one or two to go was an automatic first down for Miami (remember the days of Lousaka Polite) but that has changed recently and the Dolphins need to figure out how to remedy the issue.  An improved offensive line will go a long way towards achieving that goal.

Run Defense

Last season the Dolphins looked poised to end the team’s long playoff drought but as we’ve seen in recent seasons, Miami once again stumbled through a sloppy December and missed out on the postseason.  An atrocious run defense was a big part of the problem as the unit surrendered a whopping 992 rushing yards during the Dolphins final six games, four of which they lost.  Big steps have been taken to fix the problem, such as the free agent signings of Ndamukong Suh and C.J. Mosley and using a second-round draft pick on Jordan Phillips.

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