Bush out of the doghouse as Dolphins regroup

Bush out of the doghouse as Dolphins regroup
November 12, 2012, 3:57 pm
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Miami Dolphins linebacker Austin Spitler (53), cornerback R.J. Stanford (25), cornerback Bryan McCann (23) and head coach Joe Philbin, right, watch from the sideline during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Miami. The Titans won 37-3. (AP Photo/The Miami Herald, Charles Trainor Jr)

(APWF)

MIAMI (AP) Reggie Bush is out of coach Joe Philbin's doghouse, which might not be large enough to house all of the deserving Miami Dolphins.

Bush and teammate Richie Incognito were benched for part of Sunday's 37-3 loss to Tennessee, but they were hardly the only culprits in the Dolphins' most lopsided home defeat since 1968.

``It was an uncharacteristic performance by the whole ballclub,'' Philbin said Monday.

The defeat was Miami's second in a row, a deflating development for a team hoping to end a streak of three consecutive losing seasons and perhaps even sneak into the playoffs. The Dolphins (4-5) must regroup quickly before playing Thursday at Buffalo in their lone prime-time game this year.

Despite the short week, Philbin felt the need to review the meltdown against the Titans with his team.

``When you play like that, we need to make some corrections,'' Philbin said. ``We need to make improvements, even though we're in a semi-time crunch.''

Bush's mistake was very publicly noted. He lost a fumble six minutes into the game to set up the Titans' first score, spent the rest of the first half on the sideline and carried only four times for 21 yards.

Philbin seemed ready to put the matter in the past, at least unless Bush coughs the ball up again. He has committed three fumbles and lost two this season.

``He's not in any doghouse that I know of,'' Philbin said. ``The guy shows up, he practices hard, works hard and is competitive. He is very, very professional.''

Incognito, long labeled among the NFL's dirtiest players, was called for unnecessary roughness to take Miami out of field-goal range in the second quarter and was briefly yanked from the game.

Philbin said he has a tough standard when it comes to players taking accountability for their mistakes.

``A zero tolerance policy,'' he said. ``A coach's job is to prepare players to perform well. Their job is to perform. We have to put them in a position to be successful. That mesh didn't get done Sunday. It's on us, it's on them, it's on me ultimately, because I'm the head coach.

``We - meaning coaches and players - have to do a better job. With these guys, the proof will be in the pudding, but I suspect they have a high level of accountability.''

Bush and Incognito said they understood why Philbin benched them.

``I made a mistake, and he wanted to address it then and there,'' Incognito said. ``So, it was handled.''

Said Bush: ``I've got to do a better job protecting the ball. I've been in this league long enough to where I know protecting the ball is the most important thing as a running back. I didn't even deserve to go back into the game.''

After a fast start this season, Bush is averaging only 45 yards rushing over the past seven games. He's on pace to fall shy of 1,000 yards.

``I have to apologize to Dolphin Nation,'' he tweeted. ``My performance these past few weeks has been poor & I'm embarrassed right now! You guys deserve better.''

The entire team has backslid the past two weeks. The ground game and run defense - which had been the strengths of the team - no longer look so formidable. And rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's steady progress stalled Sunday, when he threw three interceptions.

Tannehill has only five touchdown passes this year, which ranks 33rd in the 32-team NFL. His passer rating of 73.2 is 29th. The offense he directs hasn't scored a TD in the past six quarters.

However, Tannehill did win praise for risking his health after his third interception, when he made an open-field tackle on 242-pound linebacker Zach Brown.

``I was delighted,'' Philbin said. ``He's a football player. I said damn good tackle. If you're playing football, you'd better stop a guy from scoring a touchdown.''

That's one way to stay out of the coach's doghouse.

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