By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have played some bad games in their history and frankly I have little care to think back and rehash any of them. Last night’s Monday Night Melt Down may actually rank as one of if not the worst in franchise history. I would challenge you to find one that is worse but again, I simply don’t care. Last night was utterly DISGUSTING!
Where do you start the blame game?
The opening drive?
3rd down and six and Dan Henning calls for the Wild Cat after the Dolphins offense looked sharp. The Wild Cat is not part of this teams identity. It’s one of those things that everyone else in the league simply laughs at. It’s a joke that is highlighted more by the fact this team actually spent a second round pick to complement it when they drafted Pat White. It’s done. No fork is needed, it’s done. At least they didn’t run it again all night. With a little luck they never will again.
How about Chad Henne? Is he to blame?
Henne was sharp in his first two series before he walked to side lines and his wheels fell off. Two interceptions when the team’s offense was moving almost at will led to two field goals for the Patriots. While the interceptions in the first half didn’t hurt the Dolphins it didn’t help them either. Both of those drives could have been points for the team instead of against them. Still, a 7-6 lead against the Patriots with two interceptions is a positive.
In the second half, Henne didn’t put the wheels back on. His throws were not sharp and at least 4 balls could have been intercepted and Henne didn’t even bother to read the field missing Brandon Marshall wide open down the middle on one play and Brian Hartline wide open down the middle on another. Instead, Henned opted for the short routes and almost had both passes picked.
His third pick of the game, and his last one, wasn’t his fault as Brandon Marshall did a double stop instead of continuing his route across the middle. The replay of Henne’s face as he released the ball was obviously that of irritation as the only one who continued the route was the defender. Who took it back for a TD.
Which brings us to the Special Teams.
So while all of that was going on, the Dolphins realistically were not only still in the game but could easily put the game away but before the pick 6 sealed the deal, the Special Teams hit an all time low that should easily cost John Bonamego his job. At the least.
With a 1 point lead starting half number 2, Brandon Tate returned the kick-off 103 yards for the go-ahead score. The Dolphins wouldn’t lead again or come close. On the ensuing drive, Brandon Fields had his punt blocked for the 2nd straight game deep in Miami territory. The Patriots scored a short time later and with only 4 minutes off the 3rd quarter clock, the Dolphins went from a 7-6 lead to a 20-7 deficit.
Not to be out done, the Dolphins, while still in the game, decided to kick a 53 yard field goal. A makeable kick by Dan Carpenter. However, a failed blocking assignment by the Special Team unit allowed penetration and, yep you guessed it, blocked. Not just blocked, but blocked for a touchdown.
The numbers game.
3 TD’s off the Dolphins special teams. One TD off a Chad Henne pick, and the Dolphins lose 41-14. Take away those four TD’s and the Patriots have 13 points. Take away just the ST mistakes and it’s a 21-14 ball game.
So who is to blame?
It’s coach Tony Sparano and Jeff Irelands fault.
Both of these individuals have done some very solid things reshaping the way this franchise organized on and off the field, but the fact that Special Teams is their Achilles Heel and has not been addressed is without question their responsibility. John Bonamego should have lost his job last year and if he isn’t fired this week, then maybe they all should.
This “Trifecta” that was brought in three years ago specifically signed players to handle special teams. It’s a failure. Period. Until it is fixed, Chad Henne, Brandon Marshall, and the rest of the team will not find success. In fact, offensively, it may not be a bad idea to get rid of Dan Henning as well. But that’s another article entirely.