No, the Miami Dolphins did not play their best football last night in an ugly loss to the New Orleans Saints. That being said, the game was not a “must win” and therefore we can all take a deep breathe and relax. While a win would have been nice, the past is the past and this team needs to focus on next Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. While others are busy discussing Miami’s negatives from last night, there was a major positive that stood out to me and I’m sure to many others. No, it was not the overall consistent play of CB Nolan Carroll (kudos to him though). It was OC Mike Sherman’s unveiling of the read-option package.
We’ve seen Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers run this package for about a year now. I have been yearning to see Sherman let Tannehill run it too, seeing that he did frequently under Sherman at Texas A&M. The read-option is fairly simple. Tannehill has Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas either beside him or behind him and after hiking the ball has the option of handing the ball off to the running back or keeping it himself to either run or throw. If the defensive lineman collapses on the running back, Tannehill keeps it himself. If the lineman drops back, Tannehill can hand it off or keep it to throw. We saw situations where he handed the ball off, threw a pass (to Brian Hartline on a slant), and kept it himself for a 20+ yard scamper.
What I like so much about this formation is it’s versatility. It allows Tannehill to make the best decision. It also gives the defense a different look each play. Too many times has this Dolphins’ running game been stalled or thwarted from opposing defenses sniffing out the same mundane running pattern. Not only does this package give Lamar Miller space to run, but it also gives Tannehill an opportunity to use his athletic ability to make big plays happen. Now he just has to practice holding on to the ball!
I think we can expect to see more of the read-option in the future, as Miami had success running it last night. Yes, there were a few mistakes and busted plays, but those will go away as Miami runs this offense more frequently. Baltimore has a good defense, and I think mixing up the Miami running game is crucial to their success next Sunday.