Flaws: These Five Areas will Decide Dolphins Fate

Lots of things to say.
Wow! What an overall turn of events for the Miami Dolphins: at 2-2 they are better than the past several seasons but nevertheless have displayed certain clear flaws.  You may not (at first) want to hear about them – let’s face it, confronting one’s problems is often not pleasant and requires inspection of one’s own behavior and actions….  These Five areas will decide the fate of the Miami Dolphins this season.

Scott Fisher - Sun-Sentinel

1.  The Miami Dolphins should have fired coach John Bonamego way, way earlier. And nobody – me included – got the fact that the Special Teams unit was not prepared or competent on a professional level.  Which sports analyst or commentator noted this fact?  Answer:  None.  It got by Armando Salguerro over at the Miami Herald (and I greatly respect him) and it got by other analysts such as Mike Mayock of The NFL Network and many, many others.  So clearly, none of us saw this one coming.  But a very few did write that there would be improvement on Defense especially and also on the Offensive side of the ball. But looking back to preseason games against Tampa and Dallas, I can remember near blocks of kicks and run-backs on kick-off returns by the opposition.  On reflection, this was horrifying and so I (and I suspect YOU) put it out of mind as a preseason quirk that would of course be fixed….

2.  The improvement on Offense and Defense is REAL. If you’ve been watching the progression through 4 NFL games this season with this team, you must have noticed that they are not the same on either side of the ball.  These Dolphins have made extensive changes and are clearly a better team on 2 out of 3 areas.

3.  Chad Henne is not, not, not looking downfield and over the middle and finding the open receivers.  He is playing conservative football and trying not to make mistakes.  He is being coached this way by Dan Henning, the Offensive Coordinator.  That being said, he is definitely improving and producing more points each game and stepping-up when other units force him due to the game getting out of control.

Rookie John Jerry is Back From Illness

4.  The Wildcat is not producing yardage and needs to be reinvented again. Get rid of it?  You must be insane – teams spend up to one full day of practice preparing to face it every week so they won’t be embarrassed in highlight films for the next week.  BUT, it does need adjustment and tweaking so it stays fresh and can deliver the basic advantage of “enough blockers to handle 8-in the box run defense”.  An immediate action would be to put Tyler Thigpen into the mix and/or make him the trigger-man.  He has experience in this offense from his college days and could easily pick up and probably improve the scheme.

5.  Mysterious “illnesses” have been striking the Dolphins. They’ve lost several players for indeterminate lengths of time, most recently John Jerry the Rookie Starting Left Guard for 2 weeks.  Good news is that, according to my friend Armando Salguerro of the Miami Herald (see above under, “sports analyst”) ALL of the Miami Dolphins Football team were present and able to work out in practice today for the first time all season.  And I’ve written a separate article concerning Channing Crowder; love him or hate him, he’s an integral part of the Defense and the Dolphins have definitely struggled without him.

I contend that clearly the Miami Dolphins have more ability and are better coached than in many years before.  They’ve struggled on Special Teams and that must be addressed.  However, the season is still young and if improvement continues as it has the first 4 weeks, this team will contend in the playoffs and probably win at least 1 game or more.  I dare you to prove me wrong!

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Tags: Armando Salguerro Chad Henne Channing Crowder Dan Henning Dolphins John Bonamego John Jerry Mike Mayock Special Teams WildCat

  • Jimbo

    You blame Dan Henning for Henne’s inability to look up field for the open man? Creative at best, weak more accurate IMO.

    I believe Dan Henning should have been fired along with the special teams coach. I don’t ever remember seeing a worse offensive scheme than the one Henning has been puking out week after week.

    As for the remainder of the article, it would do to line a bird cage if it were on paper, IMO, and I am impressed by your ability to dodge the tuff question; can Chad Henne play at this level, or are the phins better off trying to save the season with plan C, Thigpen. I submit, have some guts, and go to plan C.

    • Bert Smith

      Jimbo everything I wrote is correct and I stand by it. Henne is absolutely able to play at this level. What, you think Mark Sanchez is really so good? Sanchez is being coddled and Henne has been also plus given a different philosophy which does not suit his rocket arm.
      There may be some gain by going to Thigpen and I don’t deny that. But at some point also the Dolphins have to think about Franchise and long-term.
      Glad you’re a reader and I do think I’ve identified the correct issues that need to be resolved. You’ve got a different take on it in your opinion.
      But I think we’d both agree that if Special Teams were playing even average, and players did not have some mysterious illness and Chad Henne DID pick up the man downfield and the Wildcat was given a few new wrinkles; then you and I wouldn’t be having a conversation about a team that just lost it’s biggest 2 games of the season in a row….

  • Greg

    I agree partly with your Third area, but I completely disagree with the statement about Henne improving and scoring more points. With the exception of the game against the Jets, where he actually scored points, you can take that away since he threw a couple of interceptions and yet while WRs are open in the back field he still fails to make the right decisions and screws up. Also, on 3rd down and long he can not continue to throw short passes or run the ball against teams that are monsters when it comes to stopping the run. Playing conservative wont get the team anywhere, more than likely to a record similar to last years or worse. Some one needs to tell the offense and the coaches that if the want to win they’ll need to be aggressive and play like they want to win. Two years ago the team was worst than today, yet Chad Pennington was able to take them to the post season.Today we have and awesome offensive line and a great receiver, yet the “QB of the future” can’t produce!

  • Jimbo

    Bert, I know you do your best to write a good article, but yes, we are not seeing the same things. I see a flat QB, lacking the fire, and lacking the ability to make the correct decision in the heat of a play. I can’t believe he is being told to ignore the open man down field and hit the short man all the time. I think it is a flaw in his game. What I see is another John Beck. Remember how hot Marion use to get when things weren’t going well… Henne just stands around looking lost. Sanchez, he’s for sure not a great qback yet, but he is being a solid qb. Hasen’t even throwen a pic yet! Looks good, not great, but good. Henne looks never to be in danger of coming back, even just a few points down. He moves down the field then he checks off under and the D is waiting on him. His rating in the 4thQ is only about 55! IMO he lacks the drive, the instinct to win, and that is something that experience will not bring him, IMO.

    • Bert Smith

      Jimbo I understand. It is Henne who is not looking downfield. I agree on that also. I do not believe he is being coached not to look but am fairly certain that the “approach to the game” and the “philosophy” being taught to him are to not make mistakes and to follow the basic plan. I think if you or I were coaching him and told him to take the shots and go downtown then you would see him doing that.

      Now look, if it’s obvious to us then I’m sure that by now it is also pretty obvious to the opposing coaches and will be to Sparano as well. My guess is that he’s gonna come out firing against Green Bay. Look for him to have a 300 yard game this weekend and you can quote me on that.

      • Jimbo

        Bert, from your mouth to God’s ears! :) I hope you are correct.

        I have to give a big nod to Jerry, who I think is very accurate with his assessment of our drafts the past oh, 20 years. We haven’t had anyone who could draft since Jimmy left, IMO. Wansted was loyal to his vet players to a fault, and this also contributed to problems. At least todays team doesn’t for the most part, insist on playing drafted players, while an even better undrafted player sits on the bench. (IMO, except for Henne but we shall see)

  • http://twitter Jerry

    Number 1 problem with special teams is a lousy offense that doesnt score points and punts and kicks too much. Our offensive ccordinator lacks common sense. Ronnie runs for 7 yards then gets pulled. Ricky picks up 15 yards on two straight runs then we throw. On third and two we go “empty” giving away our intentions to throw with no threat of the run. On third and six we go wildcat. People say Henning cant figure out how to get the ball in Marshall’s hands. Well heck he has had Ronnie Brown here for three years and cant figure out how to get him the ball. He gets ten to 13 carries a game.

  • http://twitter Jerry

    Name me 1 good draft pick this regime has made besides Jake Long, Kendall Langford, and Vontae Davis. Phillip Merling is a bust. Sean Murphy and Donald Thomas are gone. Pat White and Patrick Turner were the WORST picks of the entire 2009 draft. Sean Smith gets beat more than a 4 egg omelette. None of our 2010 picks have even played except for Misi. Bad drafting equals bad depth equals bad special teams equals the Jets and the Patriots have more talented teams than us. Bring Don Shula back and freakin Vince Lombardi we are still in third place.

  • http://twitter Jerry

    People call for Sparano’s head. The one on the chopping block should be Jeff Ireland. All his draft picks get beat out by undrafted guys and former busts. His free agent pickups up until Dansby have also left alot to be desired. Earnest Wilford Gibril Wilson Justin Smiley Jake Grove. And he disgaurded some decent players. Sampson Satele is better than Jake Grove. And Greg Camarillo is better than Brian Hartline. And Jason Taylor would have been a very valuable back up / mentor to our young pass rushers. Sparano is doing the best he can with the players this guy provides not to mention Ireland embarrased the franchise on a national level with the Dez Bryant fiasco.