Dec 29, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets kicker Nick Folk (2) kicks a field goal as Miami Dolphins safety Jimmy Wilson (27) tries for the block during the second half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. The Jets defeated Miami 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins: Week 16 And 17 Final Thoughts/Observations


Well Miami Dolphins fans, the loss today to the New York Jets officially ended Miami’s 2013 season, dropping their final two games to AFC East rivals. Miami took fans on a bit of a roller-coaster ride this season en route to an 8-8 record.

Miami was pummeled by the Jets today 20-7, and was wrecked by Buffalo 19-0. I know, I know, “Press the reset button”, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

 

Here are some observations I was able to conclude from the final two games this season:

NOTE: I didn’t write an observations article last week because, well, I honestly couldn’t find a single thing that went well. I figured I could couple these past two weeks together since, well, Miami looked like shit.

 

—- QB Ryan Tannehill still doesn’t get it. Tannehill still struggles with touch throws, proper mechanics, and many more important skills a “franchise” guy needs to possess. In today’s game, Tannehill actually threw together a solid first half, even though his 10 of 22 statistic didn’t really show that. He had a few miscues with WR Brian Hartline, who missed the majority of the game with a knee injury, and a ton of dropped passes including a nicely thrown ball to WR Rishard Matthews which would have been a big gainer just before the half. Miami’s entire offense really struggled in the second half today to get anything going, and, well, last week they really had nothing going all game long.

 

The kid has a lot of maturing to do, still. He can be “the guy”, but he needs some proper coaching this offseason, and a new offensive coordinator to help design an offensive scheme which fits his playmaking abilities. Let’s face it, Mike Sherman has never been that guy.

 

—- Miami’s run game is still the most inconsistent piece of this offense. Miami couldn’t get a single thing going on the ground against Buffalo, an average run defense. But against NY, they were able to pound it inside for 92 yards on 22 carries. RB Lamar Miller has potential, but he really struggles with consistency which concerns me. Miami will definitely be in the market for a running back this offseason, and a guy like Lache Seastrunk from Baylor would be a solid fit to compliment Miller.

 

And find a damn fullback….please.

Dec 29, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) reacts after making a catch as New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) defends during the second half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. The Jets defeated Miami 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

 

—- The receivers played too spotty for my liking over the past few weeks. Obviously they played like shit against Buffalo, but we saw some good and some bad things today. WR Mike Wallace ran some good routes today against rookie DB Dee Milliner, but he struggled with catching the football AND it concerns me that he does not fight for the football very well. Wallace doesn’t attack the football at it’s highest point, he lets it fall into his hands. WR Rishard Matthews has done enough this season to earn consideration for the team’s 3rd or 4th receiver spot next season, but he needs to continue to improve in many areas. Mostly: Consistency. WR Brian Hartline has gained 1,000+ for the second consecutive season, losing Hartline to a knee injury today was clearly a big loss.

 

This team should be fine at the receiver position next season having a healthy group of Hartline, Wallace, Gibson, Matthews, Moore, Binns, etc. Tannehill has no reason not to succeed.

 

—- TE Charles Clay deserves Miami’s most improved player award, and perhaps deserves their MVP award this season. He’s done a great job this season, but tinkered off in the final three weeks. If Miami decides to take a chance on TE Dustin Keller again next season, which I have mixed feeling about, it could give Miami a very nice one-two punch at the tight end position.

 

—- Miami will clearly be looking for three or four offensive linemen next season, I don’t think that will surprise anyone. The bright side about Miami finishing at 8-8, if there really is any, is that they’ll be in prime position to either take a top offensive line prospect where they lay in the first round, or they can trade back into the tail end of the first to grab some more picks to load up that offensive line….it’s a solid group this season in the top three rounds. Mike Pouncey is the only guy who should be starting next season for this team that ended as a starter this season. Everyone else should be on the outs.

 

—- The defensive line rotation could get a little interesting next season, potentially losing a great duo of Randy Starks and Paul Soliai. Honestly, with $17M I would think long and hard about bringing both guys back next season. It’s likely going to be Soliai, who will command less money than Starks, but either one will be a big blow to this defense.

 

I was impressed with the play of Olivier Vernon this season, but he fell off during the last three weeks of the season, which was quite disappointing. Miami needs him to pick up his play a bit.

It’s sad to think about, but it’s seeming that Cameron Wake’s tenure with Miami will be ending in the next two or three seasons due to Vernon’s progression and the ability of Dion Jordan. Could a smart coaching staff make it work? Yes, but we have to remember that Wake is aging quickly.

 

—- Miami seriously needs to consider biting a bullet to re-work their linebackers. Koa Misi is fine, in my opinion. He played well today against New York and deserves a longer look. Why not a move to the middle backer spot? Dannell Ellerbe sucks and would be cut right now if I had anything to say about it. The most embarrassing play of Miami’s season would be NY QB Geno Smith over-powering Ellerbe for a touchdown. Downright sad. And, of course, Philip Wheeler, who is about as inconsistent as they come. I like Wheeler, and always have ever since his Georgia Tech days, but he’ll never be a good linebacker. A solid back-up and that’s it.

 

I like Jelani Jenkins, and I think he could be a solid backer, but he’s not ready yet. He played well filling in for Wheeler over the past few weeks, but was completely owned by TE Kellen Winslow today in coverage. Kellen Winslow? He’s still around?

 

—- The corners really struggled during these past two games, and I honestly think Kevin Coyle is to blame. I’ve struggled with this guy’s play calling this season. I didn’t like it and I thought it was quite predictable overall, as did many others. New England really showed that the quick slants worked well against Miami. So what did Buffalo and NY do? They ran quick screens and slants to beat Miami’s corners. That’s on Coyle.

Dec 29, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin prior to a game against the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

 

The hope is that Brent Grimes will return next season (3-4 years or tag?) and that the two rookies – Will Davis and Jamar Taylor – will come into their own next season to give this secondary a boost. Miami has some decisions to make in the secondary, especially with CB Dimitri Patterson who played well this season when healthy, and that was not too often.

 

—- Chris Clemons needs to return next season, while Reshad Jones needs to return to his 2012 form next season. A new defensive coordinator could turn these two into quite a pair. I’m not really too concerned with these two.

 

—- Miami’s special teams unit will likely remain the same going into next season. Caleb Sturgis should continue to grow, while Brandon Fields shall continue to be such a boss. Miami will likely look into bringing in some competition for Marcus Thigpen at the return position. Dri Archer anybody? Please!

 

So let the debate begin. Let the speculation begin. Does Miami retain the entire coaching staff? Does Stephen Ross decide to dump Joe Philbin? Mike Sherman (please)? Kevin Coyle? Jeff Ireland?

 

Here’s my take:

 

I think Ross should kick Sherman and Coyle to the curb. And that really shouldn’t surprise anyone. I already went on a bit of a rant about Coyle, and Sherman, well, I think that’s self-explanatory.

 

But, Philbin is the one I am uncertain about. I think the guy did a solid job keeping things together within his locker-room after the Incognito-Martin situation. That being said, I don’t know if he’s the guy that can really lead this team back to glory. It’s his job to get this team to succeed, and they didn’t this season. They were in position to grab that final playoff spot, and they didn’t. They lost their final two games against sub-par teams, who are also divisional rivals, who also blew Miami out of the water allowing Miami to score just 7 points in two weeks.

 

Joe Philbin, he needs to go.

 

Ireland, Ireland, Ireland……I’ll give him another season. The guy has done a solid job over the past few seasons of giving Philbin and “the field-goal-fist-pump” talent to work with on their rosters. It’s the general manager’s job to load the roster with talent. It’s the coach’s job to put the talent in proper positions to succeed. Neither guy did that consistently. That doesn’t fall on Ireland. I’ll give him one more season to find some offensive linemen to plug into this offense.

 

8-8 is not a successful season, especially given the circumstances during the final two weeks. Miami has some decisions to make, specifically Stephen Ross.

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Tags: Joe Philbin Miami Dolphins MIke Sherman New York Jets Ryan Tannehill

  • MCMORRIS

    Agree with most of this except Ireland loading the team with talent. Grimes was only FA who didn’t disappoint and no rookies made impacts including Jordan. Putting RT behind that line was not going to work. That’s on Ireland…he is average at best. Please upgrade Mr. Ross.

    • TylerMcMullen

      Certainly debatable, but he’s done a fine job of giving Philbin talent. This team is quite talented, and we saw that this season at times. But Philbin and co. did a poor job of coaching that talent and putting those players in a position to succeed and properly use their skills. IE Reggie Bush, Mike Wallace, Dion Jordan, Marcus Thigpen, Koa Misi, Reshad Jones this season especially. I could go on and on.

      • MCMORRIS

        Nobody is blameless…just saying we may be throwing “talent” around a bit generously here. Grimes is talented and showed it regardless of coaching/circumstances. Real talent transcends coaching…they can’t win games but they still win individual battles. Most of these guys lose their battles. Ireland is so focused on acorns that he misses the obvious – like using those picks this year to build an OL with immediate impact.

        • TylerMcMullen

          Right, but we have to remember that Clabo was coming off a solid stretch with Atlanta, Martin was supposed to take a step forward and be more comfortable returning back to left tackle, Pouncey coming off an all-pro caliber season, and Incognito coming off a pro bowl season. The only weak link was supposed to be Jerry at RG, but that didn’t happen. Jake Long did receive an offer from Miami, but decided to take off to St. Louis. It was reportedly very similar to the one St. Louis threw towards him.

          • charlie

            Martin was a weakling. Bench pressed 225 like 16 times at the combine which is ridiculous for an OT. He sucked John Jerry never gave anyone much reason to have faith in him Lydon Murtha was gone. So what Jeff Ireland had was an unproven OL that was thrown together. So it was a very risky OL we had to from the get go and Jonathan Martin shoulda never been trusted. Especially at LT the premier position. So Jeff Ireland used two early round picks to draft one pass rush specialist and Lane Johnson was there to be had. Jeff Ireland sucks at the draft. If Ross wants to keep Ireland to set up contracts thats fine keep him away from player collection

          • TylerMcMullen

            20 reps of 225, which still isn’t good, but it’s not as bad as 16.

  • Shakti96

    I hate that I am a dolphins fan!!!

    • TylerMcMullen

      Roller-coaster love!

  • charlie

    Please pretty please fire jeff ireland so i can have some hope we’ll be good again. I hear you on the coaches and don’t get why Kevin Coyle isn’t getting pressure to the quarterback with the talent. but whatever even if all the coaches stay fire ireland. We need 4 OL through the draft. Ireland has only picked one good OL guy and that was in the first unless you wanna count Jake Long and that was #1 overall. He traded up in the flattest draft ever to draft a pass rush specialist without good numbers to play out of position in a scheme he doesn’t belong in. Also when we had other glaring holes. Lane Johnson coulda been ours What did we get for Vontae Davis and a first rounder Dion fricken Jordan. What fun. Actually how can anyone who exercises rational though think Jeff Ireland should stay. He has not drafted a single stud. Not one. Unless you count Jake Long. Ireland lovers do not embarrass yourselves by replying to this with such names as Reshad Jones and Jared Odrick and Mike Pouncey. Not studs. heres what OL draft picks have gotten you after the 1rst round John Jerry, Dallas Thomas, Jonathan Martin, Jonathan Martin Jonathan Martin Jonathan Martin. Leave Jeff Ireland. If you don’t Ross you will continue to struggle fill your stadium and sell merchandise. Be a good businessman and wreck shop

  • gofins60

    Ireland and this coaching staff took a team with a decent rushing offense and rushing defense that could move the ball but lacked playmakers to score TDs, and in two years turned it into a team with a poor rushing offense, a terrible rushing defense, and an offense (with a few playmakers) that rarely gets into the red zone and struggles to score points.

    Two years, and the only major improvement was Grimes. Tannehill improved from last season, but he shows no fire or passion. In the season finale he had plenty of time to throw, but only managed one good drive. His inability to hit a wide open Wallace in stride tells me that he is not the answer; he’s had all season to work on this and still can’t do it. IMO, he’s a decent athlete playing the QB position, but he’s not a “true” QB… he just doesn’t have “it”.

    Clean house!

    • TylerMcMullen

      I like the points you’ve brought up, sir. I would have to say the only other two improvements over the past two seasons have been the play of Chris Clemons, although Reshad Jones regressed this season, AND Jeff Ireland loaded this team with receiver talent, unlike last year – but that’s not on the coaches. What is an improvement which we can credit the coaches with, though, is the play of Brandon Gibson in the slot. He played quite well this season and he was a huge loss for Tannehill and this offense as a whole. The guy never played the slot position, and he did it this season very, very well.

  • J holobinko

    This whole team makes you want to hate them! From Ross on down to the water boy! Everyone must go and even Ross should strongly consider selling this team! The one thing I hope for in the new year is a new coaching staff and #17 unemployed! Can’t stand tannehill!

  • Jcartwright67

    Agree with all, sadly! A point I’d like to hit home; we have talent at TE, Sims and Egnew were both grossly under utilized this season and inexcusable. I’m a big proponent of the TE position and wish we’d developed that role more this season beyond Clay’s good performance. On to Tannehill: he had a fair to good second year overall. He left me most disappointed in 2013 with his final two performances….when we needed him to step up and lead. I still hold hope for him as I believe he has a “high ceiling” and believe he will continue to make improvements. He needs to work with Wallace this off-season…that puzzles me that he can’t hit him long range! He needs to stop picking his nose on the sideline too…did you see that…lol. The year was a little dissapointing but not completely unexpected if we’re honest. We were competitive in every game except the Saints and the last two. This group was capable of a playoff seed had we better coaching.

  • Monte E. Jones

    Dear Mr Ross, I’ve been a dolphins fan for about 30 years, ever since I was 10 years old. I grew up watching the great Dan Marino, I’ve seen the wildcat offense. So I’ve seen some great and exciting times in my Dolfan lifetime. We’ve seen some ups and downs, but the past two weeks are unacceptable. My dedication and love for this franchise has never wavered. I have lived in Indianapolis for my entire life. So there have been plenty of opportunities to jump ship to a quality organization. I think it is a travesty, that you cannot put a quality product on the field, or sellout the stadium when all we had to do is win to make the playoffs. Knowing you are the boss, these are just suggestions: 1st Mike Sherman is a joke. Should’ve been fired halfway through the season.” If “Tannehill is our franchise, and our o-line can’t protect him. Change your schemes, screen plays, reverses, trick plays, boot legs, wildcat, something different. Other than getting your “franchise” quarterback killed every week. 2nd I’m not sold on if Tannehill is our franchise QB. I like the kid. He needs someone to light a fire under his ass . He has no passion. I’m not asking for a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but at least if they do something wrong like throwing an errant pass they show emotion. They get in the face of a wideout who runs the wrong route or drops a gimme pass. They get in the face of their linemen when they playlike pansies. Show some leadership, passion, or at least that ya give a shit. Not just trot off the field every three downs like every possession of the ball is not your last. Or show this kid the door. 3rd stop being so damn predictable on offense and defense. My God, we moved up in the draft to draft Dion.. not that Olivier played horrible. Get rid of Nolan Carroll, he is garbage. Clean out the whole stable of defensive backs besides, Grimes, Jones, Will Davis, and Jamar Taylor. Lastly keep Ireland. If ya don’t heed advice from your fan base, I hope the organization moves to Los Angeles… yours truly, the biggest Miami Dolphin fan ever

    • charlie

      WTF you talking keep Ireland. Is he paying you people or are yall that dilusional. He obviously sucks at the draft and free agency