The Miami Dolphins faced off against the San Francisco 49’ers today and one thing is becoming increasingly apparent, the wide receiver position is not Miami’s biggest problem. Today’s loss was not due to the lack of a pass game but the lack of talent in key positions. Granted Miami absolutely needs help at receiver but the current crew has done a great job for a group that was cast off even before the season started because of a lack of a true “1” receiver. The biggest issues that have come about in the last several weeks and capped in today’s game was the lack of protection for QB Ryan Tannehill and the ability to stop opposing QBs from completing a pass.
Even though, now left tackle, Jonathan Martin is a rookie, he is rapidly showing he is not the guy to replace Jake Long weather it be next season or later. Martin has had serious issues blocking on right side of the line and was given the excuse that he was not used to the right side. Well he is now back in his “comfort zone” on the left side and had not gotten any better. In first half of today’s game Martin was literally blown off the ball and ran over by Niners’ Aldon Smith and gave up another sack. The announcers were nice enough to point and laugh on how bad Martin was beat. Actually Martin was only successful in blocking when he was being helped by either a running back, guard or tight end. Reggie Bush did an outstanding job of checking Niner’s Smith back inside with a shoulder check and Martin allowed Smith to run at the Qb right past his face. He is still a rookie but had so far not been the caliber of tackle the Phins thought they were drafting in the second round of last years draft.
On the defense the obvious hole at corner back has gone from a small hole to the Grand Canyon with the inept play of Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll. After a great start to the season and finally starting to look like a solid starting corner, Smith has steadily declined in every game getting worse instead of better. Playing soft and allowing short passes for first downs, dropping easy interceptions, giving up deep balls and touchdowns, Smith has done everything but stop a pass from being completed. His size and speed should have him shutting down receivers instead of helping them inflate their stats. His run support has been almost as bad as his pass coverage. Smith again failed to get off a block which allowed Niners’ QB Collin Kaepernick to run untouched for touchdown when Miami needed a stop the most.
On the other side Carrol is starting simply due to a lack of options at the position. Carrol has more penalty yards in one game them some corners have this entire season. Carrol gets beat more often then not and then holds or interferes for penalties for first downs going the other way. Carrol is another player with the skill set to be a great player but apparently not the talent or mind set.
The lack of pass defense could possibly be blamed on the lack of pass rush at times but for the most part the D-line has done a good job. Cameron Wake has 12 sacks along with a ton of holding calls. Randy Starks and Paul Solia have done a great job up the middle forcing teams to double team inside and single blocking Wake on the outside. Unfortunately Jared Odrick is almost non-existent on the other side of the line. With only 4 sacks and less then 2 dozen tackles has not been the monster Miami thought he would be after a strong showing last year. His inability to seal the edge and drive runners back inside showed when he over penetrated inside and allowed QB Kaepernick to run outside and for a TD today. Not to mention with the obvious size and power that he has, he prefers to tackle low and with his shoulders instead of wrapping up and driving with his large frame.
Owner Stephen Ross has publicly stated that finding a wide receiver will be this off season’s number one priority but he might have to retract his statement as other more demanding needs are becoming more and more evident. Along with the glaring holes, is the large amount of free agents that are due to hit the open market at the end of the season. Smith has all but played himself out of a big contract and maybe a contract at all. Injured Jake Long is coming off his two worst seasons of his career and may or may not be back. Also on that list are names like Starks, Bush and Brian Hartline who are major factors in their positions and will demand less money then Long and maybe even Smith. Keeping the offensive weapons that rookie QB Tannehill is used to working with like Hartline and Bush should be priority even if its only a two year deal or franchise tag simply to continue to help him develope. The O-line needs more then just a little help and the corner position needs a total overhaul immediately. The Phins have a great base and will be a contender in the NFL in the next two years but must fix these overwhelming issues that have cost them the majority of their losses.