After the Miami Dolphins 23-16 home loss against their rival New England Patriots, one very evident theory about the Dolphins became a glaring fact. Miami’s defense needs help from their offense if this team is going to be successful anytime in the next few seasons.
Forget about Miami making the playoffs this year, that is out the window unless a miracle happens. Although 1st year HC Joe Philbin didn’t lead his team to the postseason, it wasn’t all bad in Miami this year as many believe they overachieved to a certain degree. I would say that is true, but the Dolphins have also shot themselves in the foot numerous times which dashed any hopes of the postseason.
The defensive front 7 for Miami has been at the top of NFL run defenses as they rank 8th. Their secondary play has left much to be desired as Nolan Carrol simply can’t cover anybody at anytime. Overall though, the defense has played pretty consistent all year and have kept Miami in most games. Kevin Coyle and his defense have kept many games withing reach, while their offense sputtered throughout the season with a few exceptions.
At some point, the offense will have to put up points on a consistent basis if their is any hope of dethroning the AFC East Champion Patriots who have won 10 of the last 12 division titles (Miami won it in 2008). This opinion doesn’t take a genius to formulate, but it was never more evident than in Miam’s playoff dashing loss to the Patriots this past Sunday.
Defensively, Miami played tough against New England’s much improved run game while giving up moderate numbers to Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and company. Miami held Pats OC Josh Mcdaniels’ high powered offense to 24 points while they averaged almost 50 points per game over their previous five games. Coyle and his defense held the Pats scoreless in the 3rd quarter to only give Brady a 7 point lead heading into the fourth quarter(Miami was also held scoreless).
The defense forced numerous punts and an apparent pick-6 by Miami Safety Reshad Jones which was later called back on a bogus double low block penalty which isn’t surprising as Miami has been on the short end of the officiating this year. Most importantly though was that Miami’s defense continually forced the ball back to Ryan Tannehill and the offense. Repeatedly though, OC Mike Sherman’s offense showcased an abysmal 2nd half of football by failing time and time again to move the ball against a mediocre Patriots defense.
The play calling by Sherman seemed too conservative and predictable. These are traits of the offense that Dolphin’s fans thought they were rid of when former HC Tony Sparano was axed last season. I mean, look at the Jets offense this season under Sparano….. had to put that out there(chuckle!)
I do believe the Miami Dolphins have found their franchise QB in Tannehill and they do have key pieces such as receivers Davone Bess and Brian Hartline along with an improving O-line. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas are a legitimate 1-2 punch when healthy. There are two areas Miami needs to address though and they are fairly simple.
First, add a playmaking wideout either in free agency or in the draft. Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe could be a potential target in free agency or they could go after the play-making receiver from USC, Marqise Lee(if available). Bottom line though, Miami needs big plays and quick scores to take their offense to the next level.
The other area Miami needs to address is their conservative play-calling. I know Tannehill is a rookie, but his immense talent and athleticism are being wasted with the bland plays that are continually being dialed up.
I like the fast paced offensive style Miami plays, but how effective is it when you don’t take shots down the field of even call an occasional trick-play? I know, I know, Tannehill missed Hartline on a sure touchdown pass down the field, but those chances are few and far between for Tannehill. Might be why he overthrew him, just saying. Miami plays predictably and it doesn’t benefit their no-huddle style of play.
Trickery wont work everytime, but it stresses my overall point about the play calling….. keep the defense guessing and on their heels. Miami’s offensive predictability is a big reason for their lackluster offense and low scoring output.
Simply, the defense is a cornerback away from being a great overall defense. They have played well enough this year for Miami to be in the postseason discussion, but their offense has successfully nulled any hope of that. The defense needs help and Mike Sherman, Joe Philbin, and the key pieces on the Miami offense need to answer the call. If not, we will be sitting here watching the Patriots winning yet another AFC East title next year.