If Miami wants to make the playoffs this year, they can’t afford to lose winnable games against beatable opponents. That is exactly what they did yesterday against the Buffalo Bills. I understand fingers can be pointed every which way, singling out this person or that person for Miami’s recent troubles. While I’m sure some fans will be pointing their fingers at QB Ryan Tannehill, let me just say this in the sophomore quarterback’s defense. Tannehill struggled early and I understand the contextual importance of his pick 6 and other red zone interception. With that being said, Tannehill dispalyed great leadership, maturity and skill to come back from those two mistakes and put his team in a chance to win the game. Had Tannehill folded and lost his edge and not led Miami back into the game, then yes, I would agree with every fan who blames our young QB for yesterday’s heart-breaker. I for one am saving all of my fingers to point at one person and one person only, Tannehill’s sideline puppeteer Mike Sherman.
In my opinion, Sherman is to blame for one reason and one reason only: terrible play calling. This was the first time in what felt like forever that the Dolphin running game was clicking and having success. Both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas had productive games (Thomas: 12 carries, 60 yards; Miller 9 carries, 43 yards) and the O-Line was actually owning the Bills’ defensive front. Surely Sherman would continue to run the ball since it was working so well right?
After establishing a 21-17 lead early in the second half, it seemed as though Miami just completely abandoned their running game, in a time when they needed it most. Sherman instead seemed content with giving the Bills’ pass rush more and more opportunities to attack Ryan Tannehill and force consecutive three and outs. As I held my breath, I watched the Miami Offense notoriously keep the Bills in the game.
Then, it became evident just how foolish OC Mike Sherman could be. With a 21-20 lead, the ball on the 50 yard line, the Miami Offense faced a 2nd down and 8 with 2:57 left in the game to go. The clock was ticking and all Miami had to do was continue to pound the football into Buffalo territory. Instead, Mike Sherman dialed up another ESPY winning play and elected to throw the football, allowing Mario Williams to make a second meal (he had a first sack only moments earlier) out of RT Tyson Clabo and punch the ball from Tannehill’s hands, ultimately ending in an encore performance of Dan Carpenter’s revenge tour. I still can’t believe the Dolphins passed. I just can’t.
I completely understand passing on 3rd down in that situation. That would have been totally acceptable. But on 2nd and 8 with the clock ticking and your running game having it’s most successful game in weeks? No way. Totally unacceptable. Worst case scenario, Thomas or Miller gains nothing or even loses yards, and you have to throw on 3rd down.
Pointing fingers does not do this team or organization any good. What this organization needs is a new play-caller. If the Miami front office is unwilling to make this happen, then at least let someone besides Sherman manage the game in the 4th quarter, because the pattern of Miami blowing games late is getting old. Tony Sparano could have closed out that game for crying out loud. That being said, I am hoping and praying that Miami digs deep and leaders on both sides of the ball emerge to take on an equally angry and sickened New England team next Sunday.