MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — The Miami Dolphins offense could have a different look on Sunday.
Now that the Dolphins are running out the clock on the 2015 season, they want to keep the ball on the ground more.
Interim coach Dan Campbell switched play callers this week and pledged better run-pass balance, starting Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Running back Lamar Miller, who totaled only five carries in last week’s loss, was among those glad to hear the news.
“The coaches emphasized we’re going to run the ball, and of course as running backs, we get happy,” Miller said. “Hopefully this week we get an opportunity and take advantage of it.”
Miami (4-7) is desperate to jump-start an offense ranked 27th in the NFL in points and yards, and 32nd and last in rushing attempts — but seventh in yards per carry.
The Ravens (4-7) also have a new look to their offense, with quarterback Matt Schaub making his second start in place of Joe Flacco, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Here are things to look for in the matchup of teams needing a December surge just to reach .500:
NEW PLAY CALLER: Since the start of last season, when the Dolphins run the ball at least 24 times, they’re 9-0. When they don’t, they’re 3-15.
So they’ve decided to run more. After Miami had a 61-to-9 pass-to-run-play ratio in last week’s loss to the Jets, Campbell fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and assigned quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to call plays.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill endorsed the new direction, even if it means he’ll throw less.
“If you look at our games we’ve played the best, we’ve been able to move the ball effectively on the ground,” he said. “It’ll be something that we’ll focus on a little more.”
This might, however, be the wrong week to become more run-oriented. The Ravens rank 24th against the pass, but eighth against the run.
ANOTHER MEETING IN MIAMI: The 2007 Dolphins were 0-13 before beating the Ravens 22-16 in overtime. That was Miami’s most recent win over Baltimore.
The Ravens have since won five in a row in the series by a combined score of 134-68, including victories in Miami in 2013 and 2014.
“It’s got to be a record; I’ve never played a team three years straight at their house,” said Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil, a Miami native. “But it’s the hometown for me, so I like it.”
In preparation for their annual trip to sweltering South Florida, Ravens coach John Harbaugh turned up the temperature in their indoor practice facility — and heard about it from his players.
“They mentioned it,” he said. “Muggy, stuffy, hard to breathe — those are all the words that were used. I don’t know if there’s any science behind it, but it makes sense to me.”
NEW QB: Schaub played well in his first start since 2013, going 20 for 34 with 232 yards with two touchdowns Monday to help beat the Browns.
“There were a lot of positives to gain and draw from,” Schaub said. “Definitely a positive start.”
If Schaub can lead the Ravens to another victory Sunday, they’ll have their first three-game winning streak since September 2014.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Baltimore has blocked a punt or place kick in five consecutive games, the longest such streak in the NFL since 1983. That includes Brent Urban’s block of a field-goal attempt against the Browns, which Will Hill scooped up and returned 64 yards for the winning TD on the final play.
FORMER TEAMMATES: The Dolphins’ new play caller played with Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska in 2005-06. Taylor was the Cornhuskers’ quarterback and the 2006 Big 12 Player of the Year.
“A very hard-nosed guy,” Suh said. “He was getting beat up sometimes, and still always out there playing as hard and as fast as he can,” Suh said. “I look forward to seeing what he does.”
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