Miami Dolphins 2012 Review: Mike Sherman

Nov 11, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

This year we are going to roll out a review on every player on the Miami Dolphins roster who played this season.  Tomorrow you will see the first three articles as they cover OL John Jerry and Jake Long as well as RS Marcus Thigpen.  Today, I will cover OC Mike Sherman as we will also cover key coaches and management as well.

Mike Sherman had his finger on the Dolphins roster the minute he joined HC Joe Philbin on staff.  Sherman was the coach responsible for converting a former HS QB to WR at Texas A&M and then back to QB again.  Ryan Tannehill had only 19 college starts under his belt when the Dolphins made him their first, first round QB since the 1983 NFL draft.  It’s an absolute no-brainer that Mike Sherman had the most information on the young rookie QB.

After flirting with Peyton Manning and logging in a visit with former Green Bay Packer back-up Matt Flynn, the Dolphins rolled the dice on the Texas A&M product that knew how to run the offense Mike Sherman was installing.  As the 2012 season came to a close in week 17, many fans still wonder if Tannehill is going to be the next franchise QB or another in a long line of missed decisions.  Tannehill’s poise in the pocket and understanding of the system carried him through his rookie campaign but it’s the system itself that Sherman will be judged on.

The grade of Mike Sherman is a tricky one.  Discussing the pro’s and con’s of his first season in Miami is like running on a thin blade that has two sharp sides.  It’s hard to grade one aspect of the offense without having a negative to go with it.  That in and of itself is almost nothing but a negative.

On one hand it’s almost impossible to grade Sherman as an OC given the fact that he, like Tannehill, are limited by the resources available to them.  Consider that the Dolphins relied on a number 2 WR to work as the number 1.  A patch-work offensive line on the right side became more dominant than the left anchored by a perennial pro-bowler.  Only to have the right side take a fall when the LT went down and the RT moved west across the line.

The “West Coast Offense” that is being implemented in Miami is heavily reliant on timing passes and a TE.  In Miami, there was no 100% reliable TE so Sherman tried to use a combination of Anthony Fasano and a HB/FB hybrid in Charles Clay.  With no legit number 1 WR Sherman was down to using a combination of Jeff Ireland “acorns” to fill the holes in his passing game.  While overall the season produced one, thousand yard receiver and another who came close with almost 800 yards, none of the corp pulled defensive safeties off the run.

Reggie Bush came close to reaching the 1,000 yard milestone but Sherman seemed content on using him up the middle where Bush tends to struggle.  Bush is unable to hit most holes immediately and his “dancing behind the line” often leads to tackles for loss or minimal gains.  For every breakaway run Bush sees up the gut of the line, he sees 3 others that go nowhere.  This falls on Sherman.

Mike Sherman needed to find a way to get Reggie Bush more involved on the outside and in the passing game where a one on one match-up with a LB would have helped.  Perhaps Sherman was working with what the defenses were giving him or he simply felt that Bush wasn’t going to make major strides in that area of the field.  It’s hard to say but his use of Bush at times seemed confusing.

As a fan I often found myself questioning Sherman’s play calling.  Balancing on a wire between bad calls and poor execution.  There is no doubt that Ryan Tannehill missed on more than a few deep passes or under threw wide-open receivers.  It’s also safe to put blame on a porous offensive line that gave Tannehill little to no time to make a play.  While there were absolutes in the execution of the plays being called in, there is still responsibility on the part of Mike Sherman.

Perhaps the biggest question mark came into play at the opening of the second half.  Many times it appeared that the half-time adjustments that were made simply made no sense or put the team in a more critical position.  For example, why come out passing when your running game has taken over the flow and momentum?  Or vice-versa.  At times the offense seemed to click along at a very solid pace and then the Dolphins would change their gameplan and watch it fall apart.  Those kind of mistakes are on Sherman as much as the execution on the field.

With another off-season and apparently money to spend, Sherman and the executive team will be charged with repairing the offense.  Perhaps to the point where they can successfully run the no-huddle option that seemed to deplete the team throughout games.   I’m not against Mike Sherman as some others but I do believe that if you are going to give the impression that you are going to revamp a unit then you might want to actually revamp it.

I will give Sherman a C+/B- for this season strictly on the fact that his players were not exactly what you would call top of the line or really not even close but he did make Brian Hartline look almost like a number 1 WR.  Like most of the coaching staff, it will take another year to really see what his plan is and how well he is implementing it.

Topics: Miami Dolphins, MIke Sherman, Ryan Tannehill

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  • gofins60

    I think that Sherman was the wrong choice for OC, but because he’s Philbin’s mentor and friend, this was a “buddy” hire. With all of his experience, you’d think that he could run a decent offense even without Pro Bowl caliber playmakers. I honestly believe that Miami would have made the playoffs this year if they had better playcalling and gameplans that actually took advantage of the players’ strengths. Second half (and especially 4th quarter) scoring was pathetic this year; Sherman’s half-time adjustments never seem to work.

    • Miami Jules (Julian)

      Great points fofins60…

  • Miami Jules (Julian)

    I will give Mike Sherman a “C-”. I’ll tell you why. I, in part, agree with the half time adjustments leaving a bit to be desired, but while I understand that opponents also made adjustments, and in the case of the run, sometimes they would stack the box, because they knew, Tannehill would go deep or with the little “come back” curl to Hartline, which didn’t make us much of a threat in the air. I do have a problem with the screen play, or should I say, lack there of…why did Sherman not have more plays to neutralize the blitz? Because our lack of TE’s? C’mon man, Layne, Bush and others… I can’t even remember the last time I sawFassano catching a screen pass… did he ever?

    Rolling Tannehill out, a disappearing option? We rolled Tannehill out after the Houston game, but then, the roll out faded into memory and bullishly perhaps, we tried to again prove Tannehill was a pocket passer, even in the face of continuing blitzing, and as you so eloquently put it Txmedic, our porous O-line.

    4th quarter we go deep… even if we are ahead by 2 points… Huh? My daughter could tell you that’s brain dead, but then my daughter knows more football than the “average girl” out there because I am her father. The logic of repeatedly going deep in that situation is… let’s see… er… either we put the game away or we’re forced to punt the ball to team begging to get one more drive… it sounds to me that all the preassure is getting to someone’s head and like a scared person with the gun, they’re just going to close their eyes and press the trigger.

    Adjustments seem to come in time for the next week’s game as opposed to in time for the next half… very frustrating, especially for an oldie-goldie like humble yours truly, who was previledged to have enjoy the coaching stylings of a certain Don Shula for all the years he coached in our beloved city. Should Sherman eventually get it, it’ll all be water under the bridge, if he doesn’t will Philbin be tied at the hip to his mento Sherman? It’s all kind of complicated my fellow Dolphans.

    • Miami Jules (Julian)

      PS… How could I have forgotten…? OK, I did, but, this observation comes more as a wish for going forward than a retrrospective look at the season… for me, however, for Sherman, it comes in the category “He should’ve known this going in” OK then, here it is. This year the elite QB’s coming out of this draft class can pass the ball, but they can also get yards on the gorund. Tannehill showed he can do both… very well, but yet time after time and the face of a non-stop rush filtering in through our “porous” O-line (I really loved that adjective didn’t I), and blitzes, Tannehill was neither rolled out (at least not enough), nor was he given the green light to just take off with the ball. Any other year OK, but this year with the success of RGIII and Russell Wilson, one could’ve thought he (Tannehill) could’ve avoided rib-crushing hits before, as he, or after he got rid of the ball, time after time, by just taking off… was this obvious to just me? It only became obvious to me as our QB took off downfield for big gains, but Sherman knew this kid for a while…where’s the logic? Trying to avoid injuries to his QB perhaps? Well, the way RT kept getting hit, it’s a miracle he was able to finish one game let alone the season… don’t know if he was able to either cough or laugh after all those hits though. OK, I’m done… I promise.