Play-calling is clearly a concern in Miami.

Ramblings From A Fan

Ok, I’m glad we pulled out another road win against the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Miami Dolphins are sitting at 4-3, and have almost went through the toughest part of their 2010 schedule.  The 3 losses came against what many call the best 3 teams in the AFC, but they all came at home, and Miami should have easily beat one of them, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  So, 4-3 isn’t bad, but it darn sure could have been better.

So what’s exactly in that 4-3 record Miami has at this point?  When the season started, a win over a Buffalo Bills team on the road seemed like an accomplishment.  Miami has always struggled against the Bills, and being the opening game of the season we fans were a little excited about Miami getting the W and taking care of business.

Game 2 brought a little more excitement to Dolphin Nation about this year’s team.  On the road against the Minnesota Vikings.  A team that should have been playing in the Super Bowl last year.  They have Brett Farve, Adrian Peterson, and a stout defense with real good pass rushers.  This win made a statement!  We were for real!  On the road, in a place where Miami hadn’t won in F O R E V E R.  The sky is the limit for this team!  WooHoo!  Little did we know at the time that the Vikings would be 2-5 at this point, with their only wins coming against a 2-5 Lions team and a 1-6 Dallas team.  Not to mention they are currently as disfunctional a franchise as the Dallas Cowboys, and they just showed the door to the biggest playmaking threat they have on offense (more on him in a minute).  The win that had everyone excited about the weeks to come including myself now looks less and less impressive.

The table was set, Miami was 2-0 and set to make their home opener in prime time against the hated, overrated, New York Jets.  The game started off well.  Miami was in it, and they would be in it until the end.  A slip and fall for a 60+ yard TD and a blocked punt later and Miami was 2-1.  That loss hit hard in my household (my first born is a Jets fan….didn’t talk to him about football for a week!).   Sure it was only one game, but it was the Jets!

Next week, Monday night against the New England Patriots.  A team on the decline, now is when the torch gets passed, now is when we finally make Tom Brady and the Patriots realize that we are going to be the new class of the AFC East.  Through the first half of the game, that held true.  Down by 1 point, we’re at home, now we take them out.  Well so much for that!  Our Special Teams got schooled so bad someone got fired for it.  I didn’t even want to go to work the next day so I wouldn’t have to face all the employees snickering about the huge Dolphin logo I have on the back window of my truck.  I sucked it up, remained proud , and took whatever they threw at me without getting pissed off.  I grinned and said, ‘hey, it’s a long season!‘  What else could I say after that performance?  Brady threw for 153 yards and all everyone could talk about was how damn good he was.  Henne threw for 305 and no one noticed.

Then came the bye week.  I was thankful for this because Miami really needed the time off.  Players needed to heal, gameplans needed to be better, an identity needed to be figured out.  The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Fins.  They were through the first quarter of the season, and about to enter the toughest part of their schedule, on the road against the Green Bay Packers, whom many picked to go to the Super Bowl, at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were the best team in the AFC at the time, on the road against the defending AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals, and to finish that off on the road against a team that has absolutely owned the Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens.  Miami would have been lucky to finish that stretch with a 1-3 record.

The Fins traveled to Green Bay and got an OT win against an injury-riddled Packers club.  The game was ugly.  We ran the ball, played decent defense, and pulled out the victory in overtime.  We beat the team with a 3-2 record that could end up winning the NFC this year.  The Miami defense won that game, much like they won the previous 2 victories the Dolphins had at that point.  The offense……well they failed to put the ball in the endzone when it counted, and relied heavily on the foot of Dan Carpenter.  After the game a win was a win, and we pulled an upset on the road once again against a tough team.

There the Dolphins were, sitting at 3-2 and getting ready to host the team to beat in the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not many felt the Dolphins could hang with the Steelers, this was going to be easy for them, Big Ben had been back for a week, and now he was ready to take charge and lead the Steelers on their way to the Super Bowl.  Miami couldn’t have asked for a better start to this game.  Getting two turnovers that set them up in the redzone, only to result in field goals.  Miami later advanced the ball into the redzone only to result in another field goal.  At the time I really felt this would come back to haunt the Fins, and sure enough it did.  The game came down to a blown call by the officials that is still being talked about throughout the league, but no matter what gets talked about, the Dolphins lost.  Not because of the officials, but because the Dolphins offense failed to get the ball across the goal line, a theme that continues to this day.  Miami lost of course, sending their record to 3-3.

3 loses at home, against 3 of the top 5 teams in the AFC.  3 road wins aginst 2 teams with 2 combined wins, and an NFC team that was more beat up than Rocky Balboa.  Sure it’s great to have a 3-3 record, but at what point does reality set in and we fans realize exactly where the Dolphins stand.  Bring on another road contest against an overrated Bengals team with a 2-4 record.

Against the Bengals, the Dolphins managed to keep the game close once again.  5 field goals from Dan the Man Carpenter, and Miami was up 1 point, thanks to their defense, and the inability of the offense to score touchdowns.  I can’t begin to tell you all the things that went through my mind during this great offensive showing.  I actually began to think like Dan Henning, I knew what plays to call in the redzone to make sure Miami had to kick a field goal.  Sign me up!  I can call the exact same stupid plays to get us 3 points, I really can!  Thanks to the up and coming defense, who even gave the Bengals one of their touchdowns, Miami pulled out another road win.  Now their record is 4-3, with only one of those victories coming against a team with a winning record.  Honestly, how excited can we get about this team?  Super Bowl?  Playoffs?  Really?

Now, I know I don’t sound like a Miami homer right now, but I’m just trying to be realistic about this team, mainly to save me the heartache that I’ve felt so far this year.  I am no doubt a Miami fan til I die, I even named my second son (who was born 10/28/10, yes, this past Thursday) Marino, but I’m really starting to throttle down my expectations for this team.  Is it really that hard to see otherwise?  There are still too many rookie mistakes.  Too many plays that go wrong that championship teams seem to make go right.  Maybe this team isn’t ready right now, maybe the expectations need to be lower this year and higher the next couple years.

We can blame the play calling, and I do.  How in the world Dan Henning is still the OC is beyond me.  We rank near the bottom of the league in TD’s and scoring, and the head coach blames execution?  Really?  Tony Sparano is covering for his OC because for some reason he has so much respect for him he won’t throw him under the bus…..but enough is enough.  It just isn’t working anymore.

With the recent news that Randy Moss is available, many Dolphin Fans are chomping at the bit to get him on the team, but will that really solve anything?  Miami already grabbed a top 5 receiver this offseason, only to waste his talent in the redzone.  Miami scored more without him last year and the year before that!  Would Moss really help out that much?  He is a deep threat, but he’s not faster than Ted Ginn at this stage of his career, who got shipped off to San Francisco and rightfully so.  Really, if Miami gets Moss how in the world can Henning be trusted to make him the difference maker in the offense?

I want to see Miami win more than anything, but when reality takes over, the team still makes too many young team mistakes, and the OC is just not very good.  I think Miami will be in all of their games, but they are a dumb call away from losing each one, and until the playcalling changes, this will always be the case!

Phins Up!


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Tags: Adrian Peterson AFC Baltimore Ravens Brandon Marshall Brett Farve Buffalo Bills Chad Henne Cincinnati Bengals Dan Henning Green Bay Packers Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots New York Jets Pittsburgh Steelers Randy Moss Rocky Balboa Ted Ginn Tom Brady Tony Sparano

  • Eric Murphy

    I personally think Miami has strayed too far from what made them a respectable franchise: the Wildcat formation. The idea behind it was to get ball in the hands of the best players on their offense, right?! Why abandon it instead of building on it with new plays and implementing Brandon Marshall into it? I think you could still get Chad Henne to develop in that system(even moreso) if he didn’t have to win the game with his arm so often. I say get Ronnie in with the QB coaches, let him and Henne learn how to better read coverages, and feature the Wildcat again with Henne continuing his development alongside it.

    • phinion

      Well maybe they are abandoning it because the best players that made it work are not getting it done nor are they the best players anymore?

      Look I don’t favor scrapping it altogether but you have to face the facts, so far we have not runn as well from it as we have the Base formation and by running from the base formation it helps put uncertainty in the defense in regards to it being a pass or run!

      The base formation is much more flexible as you can pass and run while the Wildcat has never EVER been a threat to pass! Passing from the wildcat has worked just ONCE and that was the very first time we used it! Hasn’t worked since!

      The Wildcat needs to present a credible passing threat in order for it to start working again. That means putting Henne (or even Pennington!) into the formation as a WR and putting him in motion to threaten handoff and pass to him.

      Imagine QB in motion, Ronnie running off tackle then turning and lateral to the QB. The Defense bites on RUN and the QB hits the fly route!

      DO that once or twice and the Wildcat will be effective again!

      But until that is done it is probably better to just stick with the base formation. We get just as many yards if not more because the defense still has to worry about the pass. In the wildcat it’s all hands on deck to stop the run and it has led to very few yards!

  • Patrik Nohe

    I haven’t been thrilled with the play-calling either, but at the same time it’s never completely one thing or the other. The execution isn’t entirely to blame, but take for instance the Brian Hartline end-around sunday. If that fails we all get completely angry with Henning, but when it works Solomon Wilcots says its a great call. There are quite a few calls this year that were actually sound calls but that just weren’t run well. It’s both, not just Henning. And while I agree a move needs to be made, firing the OC mid-year is the worst thing Miami could do. Who do you bring in to call plays? What effect does that have on the offensive system? I’m all for Miami stripping Henning of his play-calling duties, but it’s really hard to change OC’s mid-year and not lose continuity. A change needs to be made in the off-season, as I’m sure it will. The Fins waited to axe Pasqualoni until the end of the year last season. But be patient, doing it now is knee-jerk and more detrimental than anything. Hell, even Jerry Jones is hesitant to axe his HEAD-COACH mid-season despite his team quitting on him and being 1-6. There’s more to the equation than just wanting better play-calling in the red zone, I agree we need a change. But timing is just as important.

    • phinion

      Here is my only gripe about the playcalling.
      And it’s not really a gripe just a question mark.

      It seems that when we start to have some success running the ball we all of a sudden give up and try three straight passes that fail. Drive ended. Or try pass on 3rd and 2 when a run would be much better to extend the drive!

      In the Pitt game 5:32 left we settle for a FG. After facing 1st and 20 we run for 5, run for 11 3rd and 4 we pass for 10! So far so good!
      Pass for 17, Pass INC, Ricky runs for 8!
      3rd and 2 Pitt 19 we try to pass INC. FG!
      Ricky just ran for 8! No run in that entire drive was for less than 5. We Pass on 3rd and 2? 3rd and 4 I understand. I also understand trying to mix it up and catch the defense off guard. But when you got Mr reliable (Polite, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams how can you chose to pass on 3rd and short in the redzone and not at least go for the TD? We instead went short right!

      Better would have been to run for the FD and then tried the pass.

      It’s calls like that which cause me concern. We seem committed to the run and then abandon it in short yard situations. Look at the Jets and NE games for other examples!

    • Bruce Lamb

      I could see where getting rid of Henning could pose problems since it is in the middle of the season. But I think David Lee could step in and run the same offense, with a few wrinkles and better playcalling to get touchdowns instead of field goals.

  • Bill

    I’m not throttling down my expectations for this team. #1 this is the 3rd year of the regime, #2 Their losses have been to 3 of the top teams in the AFC and they were in 2 of those games until the end, #3 the young defense is only getting better (especially with Sean Smith back in the lineup), #4 The line is healthy again with Jerry back; just need to get back to road grating the opposition running the ball, #5 Tony is a good coach, players love him, #6 5 of the last 8 games will be played at home. If they lose to the Ravens, 6-2 in the second half is doable and they can finish 10-6. They WILL win either @ Jets or @ New England. Remember, NE could be sitting players that last week if they continue to win (i.e. Colts last year)

    Anything less than a playoff birth is a disappointment. This year the playoffs, next year they take the next step. This team competes hard, just needs to limit mistakes.

    My take on Randy Moss, put in a claim, the pros outweigh the cons

  • Leti

    My husband and I attended this game! It was soo much fun we had a blast! WE are die hard dolphin fans!! I LOVE THE PHINS

  • w3stc0astmdf

    New member here and I want to say congratulations on the new addition to your family. Marino beats the h out of Csonka as far as names go.

    Nice write up too!

    I have liked the style of our play so far. I like the idea of running a lot because it wears a team down when they have to block and tackle the likes of Ricky and Ronnie frequently. Even in games where they are not getting a lot of yards it is a thing that wears a team down so that you can get sustained drives at the end when their D is tired. This is part of why I think we were able to drive down the field on the Bangels at the end of the game.

    Of course play calling is a big thing with the team and I agree with what was said earlier in this thread. We can not afford to rock the boat with a change at this time in the season. Too much of a risk. If we were 0-7 then wtf, but, as it is it could put us in a funk that we would likely not recover from.

    Need to maximize what we have.

    On the issue of Randy Moss. We would be a good fit for him because he would like the night life and there are others on the team that are on his wavelength. So he would need to fit our system and I think that he would. Would he try on every play? Maybe not but he would keep out other receivers from being doubled and would compliment the run. His main issue is with the media and I do not know if this team would get rattled by such a distraction as him refusing to talk to the media.

    I predict he goes to another team. I just do not want to see him in NYJ or Patriots uniforms this season or I will be upset with out FO.

    Go Dolphins!