By Brian Miller
If you ask around the Miami Dolphins fan site circles, our message board (which you can join here), and anyone else who knows me, they will tell you that I am a very big supporter of Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano. I have always defended their actions on the field and off. Players they hit on and missed on. I also believe/d that Bill Parcells had more to do with the way this team has performed than any of the coaches and that his presence hindered the team more than it helped it.
Parcells still uses the old style of play vs. prototype on the field and in 2010’s NFL that doesn’t work anymore. Proof is squarely sitting in Miami.
Many fans believed that Parcells left the team because he didn’t like Henne or he saw what was coming and wanted to bail so he wouldn’t have his name attached. But truth be told, it always will be attached to this group of management team and coaches. He hired them and if he saw that they were failing, then he should have done something about it. Instead, he took the money and ran. Either way, he failed.
This however is not about losing faith in Bill Parcells, he’s gone and he was done a long time ago. This is about losing faith in Tony Sparano and perhaps even Jeff Ireland.
Last nights game showcased a ton of injuries on the offensive side of the ball. From Long’s shoulder to Henne’s knee and then the loss of Cory Proctor and Brandon Marshall. But make no mistake about it, this team was not prepared for last nights game before those two went down with injury. In fact, the putrid smell that emulated from the grass field became apparent in the first quarter when you realized how unprepared this team really was.
Yes, I get it, they had two days to prep an inexperienced QB to run the offense. Yet Thigpen hadn’t taken snaps with the first team unit since way back in training camp and that was only once or twice. That is a coaching mistake. Coaches need to prepare for what happens next and having a viable number 3 QB on your roster that is not involved with the way the offense is being run, sets you up to fail when what happened last week actually does happen.
In the scramble to get your number three QB in line to start, you game plan around his inexperience. In other words, you run the ball and try and control some momentum and help your QB adjust to the speed on the field, the flow of your play calling. Instead, the Dolphins ran the ball 8 times and one was on an end around. What does that mean? It means the coaches let Thigpen throw the ball and that takes timing, reads of the defense, and blocking from your offensive line. The coaches failed.
This season the Dolphins have had one of the worst offenses in the league. Conservative, boring, and unfortunately stalling. Last night, they needed a conservative game plan. One that put the ball into the hands of your best players, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and Brandon Marshall. Instead, they simply went to the air and forced Thigpen to make decisions. Oddly enough, last nights game plan said more about the way these coaches feel about Chad Henne than anything else. Thigpen was given the opportunity to throw whereas Henne is controlled.
Again, the coaches failed.
All of this comes on the shoulders of Tony Sparano. The players like his no-nonsense style of coaching. He is stern and fair. Still, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Sparano needs to make immediate changes to the way this team is being coached. From decisions such as punting to Devin Hester, from Dan Henning calling any play at all, and then a strong look in the mirror for him to realize that if he wants this to be his team then he needs to stop fist pumping FG’s and start ripping asses instead. Last night was an embarrassment and for the first time in my life, I am glad I didn’t go to the game.
It’s hard to say whether Tony Sparano has lost control of this team or not. Injuries alone may save his job at the end of the year if it was ever on the line at all. My concern is that this team will simply do enough to keep the coach instead of doing better to show he belongs or worse that he loses his job. It sets the team up for failure next year if they simply do enough to save it.
I’m not saying Sparano should be fired. I like the coach. In fact he is my favorite since Don Shula. But this team is a mess and what is on the field performing is a result of game planning and coaching and that all falls on the shoulders of Tony Sparano.
There are some names this year that are open to a return to the NFL. Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and Brian Billick to name three. But Ross has to be ready to part ways with a Bill Parcells guy and possibly Jeff Ireland as well if he plans to land someone like Cowher. In any case, last night didn’t secure anyone’s job, but it did put a lot faith in this regime squarely in the toilet. You can’t help but wonder if it’s time for yet another overhaul.