Sparano Fails To Coach Smart

There is no debate that the Miami Dolphins have fashioned three consecutive gameplans tailored to the talent on this team.  Anthony Fasano has become a fantasy TE stud and fan approval ratings have gone from the teens into the 80′s and continue to climb.  Mike Nolan, the teams defensive coordinator has found a way to get pressure on opposing QB’s and the miracle of all miracles, stopping opposing TE’s.  Both sides of the ball have been aggressive and yesterday we saw the special teams feed off that by blocking a punt for a touchdown.

30 plus points against the Chiefs?  20 plus against the Redskins, 35 plus against the Bills, and not one single touchdown allowed in any of those games?  Seems to me the Dolphins coaches have finally got it right.  So is Tony Sparano’s job still on the line?  Would a turnaround that put this team at 8-8 save his job?  What about a run of six more that put the Dolphins above .500?  Does that save Tony’s job?  Should it?

It’s a debatable subject for sure.  Four weeks ago fans and media wanted heads to role.  There was no way Sparano’s job would be safe without a post-season birth and we all knew that wasn’t happening.

Sparano has improved in areas over the last three weeks.  His practice approach is paying off, his choices of not using timeouts like they were limitless is paying off, his dedication to opening up the offense and taking the restrictions off his QB, is paying off.  No more fist pumps for field goals this team is punching it into the endzone from the deadzone.  High-fives all around.

With all the positive surrounding the team right now, it so pains me to say this.  Sparano still can’t coach smart.  That’s why at years end, he may be replaced.

Do not for a minute believe that I do not fully recognize the situation this team is in.  I know their record and I know what lies in front of them.  I also know that change is not always a good thing or will bring immediate results.  Drafting Andrew Luck could be the worst mistake a team could make and drafting Mike Pouncey over any QB seems brilliant about right now (aside from Andy Dalton).  My issue with our head coach is this.  He doesn’t get it.

To make my point clear, you need to look at yesterday’s game and then look at it from the position of a head coach who desperately needs to win out to save his job.  Make no mistake, his time in Miami is no longer a foregone conclusion to end at years end.  Continuing to win and it might just save his job.  So why not coach to save your job?  Why not coach to give you the best chance to win today, next week, and the week after that?

The fourth quarter rolled around and the Dolphins were in complete control.  No mental meltdown of epic proportions.  The game was in hand.  The Bills had given up the blocked punt score at the bottom of the third and with 13:00 minutes left in the fourth tackled Daniel Thomas in the endzone for a safety.  They got the ball back and with 10 minutes then left in the game, they punted and the Dolphins took over.

And that’s when I realized that Sparano wasn’t playing for the season.

The Dolphins came on to the field, big lead, 10 minutes.  Reggie Bush off right end.  Matt Moore scrambles under pressure.  Matt Moore pass incomplete.  Three and out.  Next series.  Daniel Thomas off the right, Matt Moore to Charles Clay, Daniel Thomas no gain.  The three and outs are not the problem.  The personnel is the problem.

Why did Tony Sparano leave his starters in the game for so long?  This isn’t about talent evaluation at the bottom of your team, this is about playing smart for the week ahead.  The Dolphins play the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas on Thursday afternoon.  Short week?  Try three games in 11 days.  Figure this, there is no practice today, there is no practice on Tuesday as that is the league day off, and Wednesday they fly after practice to Dallas.  Got rest?

Reggie Bush made an appearance on the Dolphins next drive with JP Losman under center.  There was only 5 minutes left in the game at that point.  Daniel Thomas was still on the field.  This to me is stupid coaching.

Reggie Bush has managed to avoid injuries this year, something that has plagued him in his career.  Knock on wood.  So why leave him in for a game that already saw three Bills players go down with serious injuries?  Why leave Daniel Thomas in who has nursed a hamstring injury for the better part of the season?  Why leave Matt Moore in when your next best and only option is JP Losman?  Get these guys out of there!

Lex Hilliard was active for the game but saw minimal action.  He should have played most of the fourth quarter if not all of it.  JP Losman should have played the fourth quarter.  Brandon Marshall should have been on the sidelines and Clyde Gates should have been on the field more.  The facts are simple, the game was over and Sparano needs to keep his team healthy if they want to continue this march.  There is a difference between playing it safe and playing it stupid.  Yesterday I think we saw how to do both.  If one of those guys goes down, then any hope this team has about continuing this train ride goes down with it.


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Tags: JP Losman Matt Moore Miami Dolphins Reggie Bush Tony Sparano

  • drumzan

    Not sure I agree. Belichick plays Tom Brady in meaningless week 17 games. Sparano is doing a great job. He’s keeping his players motivated after losing 7 in a row. The o-line play has improved drastically. Offensive schemes have changed for the better. They have the least amount of penalties in the league. They’ve won 3 games in a row with a backup QB. That’s smart coaching.

  • RandyCarlson

    Even if the Dolphins end up 9-7 Sparano is gone unless the the next coach lets him stay on as O-line coach .

    Brian do you know any place that sales Dolphins player jersey’s without a name or number on the jersey?

  • Charlotte74

    I agree with drumzan, keeping your players motivated after a loss of 7 in a row is impressive and they have now won 3 in a row. My bet is he stays.

  • Phinphanatic

    @RandyCarlson Maybe but I’m not sure the sell them either honestly.

  • JeremiahBowles

    daniel thomas is a rookie. daniel thomas is a running back rookie. he needs snaps.

  • Iam305Jules

    I think the players found their own motivation in spite of Sparano, he seems to be an accidental witness to it all. Unless something else is going on behind the scenes at Dolphin camp, I get the impression, Sparano is there with the fist pump, when things look good, and pouting when they’re not. Even in beating the Bill the way Dolphins did, why did they slack off in the 3rd and 4th quater?

  • Phinphanatic

    @Charlotte74 We are talking NFL players, the best motivation they have is to be told they don’t have to play. One of the first things out of one of the players mouths after the game during Sparano’s post game talk was “see you on Wednesday” in reference to Sparano giving them off two days after a win. Sparano walks up to Moore and Bush and says park it boys, they will be motivated to do it again.

  • Phinphanatic

    @JeremiahBowles I have less issue with Thomas playing than Bush for sure, but Hilliard is capable of playing three series and given the hamstring injuries that Thomas has been through, the last thing they need to do it tweak it and play carousel again. But Bush should not have been in that game late.

  • Phinphanatic

    @Iam305Jules Don’t agree here. Sparano has as much to do with that turnaround as the players. He completely changed things up during the week for the players to get more out of the practices. He hardly pouts when they lose and in reality he is still pretty stoic when they win. It’s almost robotic and Sparano really doesn’t like the media regardless of whether they win or lose. He does deserve as much credit though as the players for the three games.

  • Phinphanatic

    @drumzan Belichick likes to run up the scores but to be honest with you, there are a lot of fans and media in the NE area who deplore his tactics of keeping his starters in. The Pats lose Brady and they are done.

  • Iam305Jules

    @Phinphanatic @Iam305Jules I didn’t know Sparano had changed things up to maximize practice time, that’s why I said “unless something else is going on behind the scenes” and ” Ï get the impression” I thank you for sharing.

  • drumzan

    @Phinphanatic Moore is not the team. Bush is not the team. Marshall is not the team. Thomas is not the team. If we lose one of those guys, the team isn’t doomed. The Phins have proven they can win with a backup QB. They also need to get more game reps in because they missed a lot of the off-season. I don’t think there’s a right answer of whether to play your “stars” during garbage time or meaningless games. Some coaches rest their stars, others don’t.

  • drumzan

    @Phinphanatic@Charlotte74 Players are never motivated to not play during games, even if it’s a blowout. They’re motivated to miss practice time.