Sparano Fails To Coach Smart


There is no debate that the Miami Dolphins have fashioned three consecutive gameplans tailored to the talent on this team.  Anthony Fasano has become a fantasy TE stud and fan approval ratings have gone from the teens into the 80’s and continue to climb.  Mike Nolan, the teams defensive coordinator has found a way to get pressure on opposing QB’s and the miracle of all miracles, stopping opposing TE’s.  Both sides of the ball have been aggressive and yesterday we saw the special teams feed off that by blocking a punt for a touchdown.

30 plus points against the Chiefs?  20 plus against the Redskins, 35 plus against the Bills, and not one single touchdown allowed in any of those games?  Seems to me the Dolphins coaches have finally got it right.  So is Tony Sparano’s job still on the line?  Would a turnaround that put this team at 8-8 save his job?  What about a run of six more that put the Dolphins above .500?  Does that save Tony’s job?  Should it?

It’s a debatable subject for sure.  Four weeks ago fans and media wanted heads to role.  There was no way Sparano’s job would be safe without a post-season birth and we all knew that wasn’t happening.

Sparano has improved in areas over the last three weeks.  His practice approach is paying off, his choices of not using timeouts like they were limitless is paying off, his dedication to opening up the offense and taking the restrictions off his QB, is paying off.  No more fist pumps for field goals this team is punching it into the endzone from the deadzone.  High-fives all around.

With all the positive surrounding the team right now, it so pains me to say this.  Sparano still can’t coach smart.  That’s why at years end, he may be replaced.

Do not for a minute believe that I do not fully recognize the situation this team is in.  I know their record and I know what lies in front of them.  I also know that change is not always a good thing or will bring immediate results.  Drafting Andrew Luck could be the worst mistake a team could make and drafting Mike Pouncey over any QB seems brilliant about right now (aside from Andy Dalton).  My issue with our head coach is this.  He doesn’t get it.

To make my point clear, you need to look at yesterday’s game and then look at it from the position of a head coach who desperately needs to win out to save his job.  Make no mistake, his time in Miami is no longer a foregone conclusion to end at years end.  Continuing to win and it might just save his job.  So why not coach to save your job?  Why not coach to give you the best chance to win today, next week, and the week after that?

The fourth quarter rolled around and the Dolphins were in complete control.  No mental meltdown of epic proportions.  The game was in hand.  The Bills had given up the blocked punt score at the bottom of the third and with 13:00 minutes left in the fourth tackled Daniel Thomas in the endzone for a safety.  They got the ball back and with 10 minutes then left in the game, they punted and the Dolphins took over.

And that’s when I realized that Sparano wasn’t playing for the season.

The Dolphins came on to the field, big lead, 10 minutes.  Reggie Bush off right end.  Matt Moore scrambles under pressure.  Matt Moore pass incomplete.  Three and out.  Next series.  Daniel Thomas off the right, Matt Moore to Charles Clay, Daniel Thomas no gain.  The three and outs are not the problem.  The personnel is the problem.

Why did Tony Sparano leave his starters in the game for so long?  This isn’t about talent evaluation at the bottom of your team, this is about playing smart for the week ahead.  The Dolphins play the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas on Thursday afternoon.  Short week?  Try three games in 11 days.  Figure this, there is no practice today, there is no practice on Tuesday as that is the league day off, and Wednesday they fly after practice to Dallas.  Got rest?

Reggie Bush made an appearance on the Dolphins next drive with JP Losman under center.  There was only 5 minutes left in the game at that point.  Daniel Thomas was still on the field.  This to me is stupid coaching.

Reggie Bush has managed to avoid injuries this year, something that has plagued him in his career.  Knock on wood.  So why leave him in for a game that already saw three Bills players go down with serious injuries?  Why leave Daniel Thomas in who has nursed a hamstring injury for the better part of the season?  Why leave Matt Moore in when your next best and only option is JP Losman?  Get these guys out of there!

Lex Hilliard was active for the game but saw minimal action.  He should have played most of the fourth quarter if not all of it.  JP Losman should have played the fourth quarter.  Brandon Marshall should have been on the sidelines and Clyde Gates should have been on the field more.  The facts are simple, the game was over and Sparano needs to keep his team healthy if they want to continue this march.  There is a difference between playing it safe and playing it stupid.  Yesterday I think we saw how to do both.  If one of those guys goes down, then any hope this team has about continuing this train ride goes down with it.