If you have followed my articles over the last six weeks, I have focused on game related issues with the Miami Dolphins. I call them C’MON MANs. There are no C’MON MANs this week as the Dolphins enjoyed a bye week last Sunday.
As a fan, it is my hope that the Dolphins use the bye week to correct recurring issues … recurring areas of weakness. And, I believe that Head Coach Joe Philbin will do that very thing. I am confident he sees the same things that we all see … and more. The corrections will be timely with a critical divisional game at the New York J-E-S-T-S in the eighth week of the NFL Season.
In this article, I decided take a look at a few of those recurring …
1). THIRD OPTION AT WR … The prospects for the 2012 Miami Dolphins’ WR Corps looked bleak at the start of the season. They had Devone Bess … and … that was about it. Brian Hartline had missed almost the entire preseason with injuries. And, nobody else seemed to step up. Well, Bess has performed up to expectations. Hartline has recovered nicely from injuries and has been huge. But, there has been not much else at WR. Legedu Nannee and Anthony Armstrong have been busts. None of the rookies have stepped up. And, the jury is still out on Marlin Moore. On October 3rd, the Dolphins acquired free agent Jabar Gaffney, who had a good 2011 season with the Redskins. But, he got injured during the 2012 preseason with the Patriots and was cut. Gaffney has not been active for any game with the Dolphins to date. It has been reported that he is “learning” the up tempo offense, particularly the hand signals. Really? You mean to tell me a 10+ year vet needs 25 days to learn hand signals. Heck, the average Joe could probably learn sign language in that amount of time — especially, if his profession depended on it. If hand signals are the problem, maybe the Dolphins should have hired Rosetta Stone to create software to assist in the “learning”. There has to be more to this story. Bottom line, the Dolphins need to find a third WR to put more pressure on opposing defenses and as insurance in case of injury to Bess or Hartline. Let’s hope Gaffney has learned the playbook along with the hand signals and can put up some numbers like last year.
2). CONVERTING SHORT YARDAGE … The 2012 Miami Dolphins have had a tough time making good in short yardage situations. They are a far cry from the 2010 and 2011 performances of near perfect Lou Polite. I believe that the 2012 Dolphins have the weapons to succeed, just as in the past. It is the play calling that has been suspect. Plays that include using Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas running behind John Jerry and Jonathan Martin in short yardage have been almost a total failure. For that matter, plays using Bush and Thomas running behind Richie Incognito and Jake Long have not fared that well either. I hope that Philbin and Sherman will work on using Javorski Lane running quick hitters in the gaps on either side of Incognito. I say, get up to the line quickly, line up Lane two yards behind the QB, and hand it to the BIG GUY … let it be strength on strength … dare the opponents to stop you.
3). COVERING OPPONENTS’ TEs … The 2012 Miami Dolphins have had a tough time covering TEs. The Texans’ Daniels caught 4 passes for 87 yards. The Raiders’ Myers caught 6 passes for 86 yards. The Cards’ Housler and King caught 4 passes for 70 yards. The Bengals’ Gresham caught 5 passes for 60 yards. And, the Rams’ Kendricks caught 4 passes for 40 yards. This is an whopping average of 14.9 yards per reception and a lot of first downs from opposing TEs. The remainder of the season will not get any easier with the Jets’ Keller, the 49ers’ Davis, the Seahawks’ Miller, and the Patriots’ dynamic duo of Grontkowski and Hernandez, twice. The Dolphins’ LBs and have got to step up their play in coverage.
4). FAIR CATCHING PUNTS … The Miami Dolphins’ #1 punt returner Marcus Thigpen has had somewhat a tough time fair catching punts. As a punter in college, I have some experience to share here. The ideal punt for distance looks much like a long pass by a QB. It has a tight spiral with nose up in the upward trajectory of the punt “turning-over” to a nose down in the downward trajectory. This is actually the easiest for a returner to catch — it is just like catching a long pass from a QB. However, some punts result in “tail draggers”. This kind of punt has characteristically less spin, slight wobble, and does not “turn over” — the nose of the ball remains up during the entire trajectory due to an aft center of pressure — it is very much similar to a stalling aircraft. These punts are more difficult to catch because they tend to drop out of the sky from their peak altitude falling short of their anticipated distance — they drop like a rock. If the returner lets the ball hit the ground, the ball bounces forward often for serious extra yardage … or … worse yet, the ball could hit a blocking teammate in the back possibly resulting in a turnover, just like what happened to the Dolphins in the Bengals’ game. Thus, the objective of the returner is to not let the “tail dragger” hit the ground. Thigpen has not been successful at identifying a punt which “tail drags” versus one which “turns over”. This has to be determined during the punts’ upward trajectory. He has to do a better job which comes with practice and experience. Hopefully, the bye week will give him the opportunity to work on this by catching numerous Brandon Fields’ punts. But, you cannot tire out the leg of your Pro Bowl Punter. Thus, I hope he also works on it with “tail dragging” passes from QB Pat Devlin — like, after practice when Reggie Bush is working out by himself. It is very important to minimize net punt yardage and prevent costly turnovers — run up field and fair catch the “tail draggers”.
What do you think? Do you have your own C’MON MAN you’d like to give out for the bye week?
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