Dolphins Truly Special in 41-14 Loss

Last night the Miami Dolphins headed into their game with the New England Patriots with a chip on their shoulder. If the Dolphins were to be serious playoff contenders they couldn’t drop two home games in a row, especially to division foes. The game started off innocent enough with Miami taking the opening kickoff and marching right down the field only to see the drive stalled when on third and six Dan Henning killed the drive by call the Wildcat. Miami had to punt the ball and the defense stood strong by holding the Patriots to a quick three and out. Cameron Wake looked like a one man wrecking crew.

The next series was more of the same. Miami drove right down the field and scored a touchdown on some nice footwork from Davone Bess as he tiptoed down the sideline for the score. Again the Patriots saw relentless pressure from Wake and only held the ball for six plays before having to punt.

 If the game just stopped there and people were to look at the stats one would have thought Miami dominated the New England. But only if stats said everything. How many times when playing against Randy Moss can a team boast to holding him without a catch? Well last night Miami and Vontea Davis did just that. The Dolphins also held the Patriots Tight Ends in check with six catches for 33 yards and Tom Brady only threw for 153 yards. All that looks good right?

Unfortunately for Miami they were in a giving mood last night. Chad Henne threw 3 ill-conceived interceptions. Now to be fair one of the picks was on Marshall and not on Henne when he cut off his crossing route and Pat Chung was the recipient of a pick 6. Although he completed 75% of his passes and threw for over 300 yards Henne didn’t look good at times. He short-hopped receivers on a couple of occasions. Threw into double and triple coverage and stared down receivers.

With that being said it wasn’t Chad Henne who handed the game over to New England. Last night the Dolphins Special Teams was truly special. Miami came out of half time leading by one point. They left points on the board, but with the opening kick to the second half New England took those points back. Brandon Tate took the second half kick and returned it 103 yards for his second kick return for a touchdown this season. When Miami got the ball it was a quick three and out with a punt giving the ball back to Brady. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” Pat Chung broke through Miami’s offensive line to block the Brandon Fields punt which led to a Patriots TD.

Miami did bounce back and came down the field and scored making it a 6 point game, but that’s as close as they got. The special teams gaffs wouldn’t stop with a kick return for a touchdown and a blocked punt. The Dolphins special teams pulled off the trifecta when Dan Carpenter’s 53 yard field goal attempt, was blocked by, you guessed it Pat Chung and picked up Kyle Arrington who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

So New England scored 41 points in a game in which Randy Moss was held without a reception and Tom Brady only threw for 153 yards. Many will lay this game on the feet of Chad Henne, and while he didn’t look good his errors resulted in 13 points (although the pick 6 was on Marshall for cutting off his route). Steve Young made comments after the game that Henne is still rushing and not letting the game come to him. He is going through his progressions, but going through them too fast and not letting the plays develop. He also stated that Henne looks too mechanical. I am not giving up on Henne yet, because after all last night was only his 17th start in the NFL.

No, last night’s loss can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Special Team Coordinator John Bonamego. Bonamego has been in that position for three years in Miami, and for all three years the Dolphins special teams has been at the bottom of the NFL, but last night was rock bottom. Many will be calling for his head this morning and I believe there should be a change. However, I also feel some of the blame should fall on the shoulders of Jeff Ireland. The constant churn at the bottom of the roster hinders special teams because it disrupts continuity. Just like the offensive line special teams is about a unit acting as one, knowing that the man next to you is going to stick with his assignment and not leave lanes open. Well this just has not happened. The constant influx of new players on the bottom of the roster means a constant shift in personnel on special teams resulting in not continuity. I am not trying to deflect this mess from Bonamego but just trying to make a point on a few different factors. Since the pre-season the Dolphins have had four, yes count them four punts blocked. That doesn’t happen in high school much less the NFL.

The bottom line is Miami finds themselves looking up in the division to New York and New England after only four games with two division losses. Hopefully Miami can bounce back and make a run, but after the bye week the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The next six games Miami’s opponents are 16 and 8 on the season. The Dolphins need to use the bye week and get the comedy of errors turned around quick or the 2010 season will be over before it really even got started.

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  • matt

    Is it me, or was Bobby Carpenter at the center of almost everything that went wrong defensively or on special teams last night?? Can someone w/ video access put the stats on that? I think it’s a high percentage – that guy is terrible and should not have been on the field last night.

    • dmod1

      Why they ever brought him in to play linebacker is beyond me. Did you see him during the kickoff return for the touchdown. The guy has no speed. But, they release someone who can help them like Micah Johnson. The guy was making tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses in preseason just like he did at Kentucky and they cut him and bring in Carpenter. Go figure.

  • dmod1

    I just watched Tony Sparano’s press conference from Tuesday and all I can say is the guy is clueless. The Dolphins lost the game despite Randy Moss not making a single catch. With all the special teams plays aside Miami still could not stop Wes Welker and TWO undrafted free-agent running backs, one who was only 5′ 9″ and 175lbs. Pitiful. If you look at the results of the game there is only one thing that could be said. Miami’s coaching staff did a terrible job of preparing for the game. Belichek is a master of preparation and you can see how well he prepared New England for the game. The special teams plays New England had against the Dolphins were no accident. It comes from studying the other team and preparation. Brandon Fields takes too long to get the ball away. That, in itself, gives opposing teams a much better opportunity to make a play and come up with a block. They had two blocked in preseason and one in the Jets game a week before. Sparano should have been at the podium taking full blame for the lack of preparation and not having his team more ready to play the game. If you watched the game you could see, everytime they showed Belichek on the sidelines he was making adjustments in his head. That’s how good he is. Said to say, and I am a Dophins fan since the 70′s, Miami was outplayed and outcoached in every aspect of the game and if Sparano wants to compete with that He needs to step it up a notch.