Miami Dolphins 2012 Review: Mike Sherman


Nov 11, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

This year we are going to roll out a review on every player on the Miami Dolphins roster who played this season.  Tomorrow you will see the first three articles as they cover OL John Jerry and Jake Long as well as RS Marcus Thigpen.  Today, I will cover OC Mike Sherman as we will also cover key coaches and management as well.

Mike Sherman had his finger on the Dolphins roster the minute he joined HC Joe Philbin on staff.  Sherman was the coach responsible for converting a former HS QB to WR at Texas A&M and then back to QB again.  Ryan Tannehill had only 19 college starts under his belt when the Dolphins made him their first, first round QB since the 1983 NFL draft.  It’s an absolute no-brainer that Mike Sherman had the most information on the young rookie QB.

After flirting with Peyton Manning and logging in a visit with former Green Bay Packer back-up Matt Flynn, the Dolphins rolled the dice on the Texas A&M product that knew how to run the offense Mike Sherman was installing.  As the 2012 season came to a close in week 17, many fans still wonder if Tannehill is going to be the next franchise QB or another in a long line of missed decisions.  Tannehill’s poise in the pocket and understanding of the system carried him through his rookie campaign but it’s the system itself that Sherman will be judged on.

The grade of Mike Sherman is a tricky one.  Discussing the pro’s and con’s of his first season in Miami is like running on a thin blade that has two sharp sides.  It’s hard to grade one aspect of the offense without having a negative to go with it.  That in and of itself is almost nothing but a negative.

On one hand it’s almost impossible to grade Sherman as an OC given the fact that he, like Tannehill, are limited by the resources available to them.  Consider that the Dolphins relied on a number 2 WR to work as the number 1.  A patch-work offensive line on the right side became more dominant than the left anchored by a perennial pro-bowler.  Only to have the right side take a fall when the LT went down and the RT moved west across the line.

The “West Coast Offense” that is being implemented in Miami is heavily reliant on timing passes and a TE.  In Miami, there was no 100% reliable TE so Sherman tried to use a combination of Anthony Fasano and a HB/FB hybrid in Charles Clay.  With no legit number 1 WR Sherman was down to using a combination of Jeff Ireland “acorns” to fill the holes in his passing game.  While overall the season produced one, thousand yard receiver and another who came close with almost 800 yards, none of the corp pulled defensive safeties off the run.

Reggie Bush came close to reaching the 1,000 yard milestone but Sherman seemed content on using him up the middle where Bush tends to struggle.  Bush is unable to hit most holes immediately and his “dancing behind the line” often leads to tackles for loss or minimal gains.  For every breakaway run Bush sees up the gut of the line, he sees 3 others that go nowhere.  This falls on Sherman.

Mike Sherman needed to find a way to get Reggie Bush more involved on the outside and in the passing game where a one on one match-up with a LB would have helped.  Perhaps Sherman was working with what the defenses were giving him or he simply felt that Bush wasn’t going to make major strides in that area of the field.  It’s hard to say but his use of Bush at times seemed confusing.

As a fan I often found myself questioning Sherman’s play calling.  Balancing on a wire between bad calls and poor execution.  There is no doubt that Ryan Tannehill missed on more than a few deep passes or under threw wide-open receivers.  It’s also safe to put blame on a porous offensive line that gave Tannehill little to no time to make a play.  While there were absolutes in the execution of the plays being called in, there is still responsibility on the part of Mike Sherman.

Perhaps the biggest question mark came into play at the opening of the second half.  Many times it appeared that the half-time adjustments that were made simply made no sense or put the team in a more critical position.  For example, why come out passing when your running game has taken over the flow and momentum?  Or vice-versa.  At times the offense seemed to click along at a very solid pace and then the Dolphins would change their gameplan and watch it fall apart.  Those kind of mistakes are on Sherman as much as the execution on the field.

With another off-season and apparently money to spend, Sherman and the executive team will be charged with repairing the offense.  Perhaps to the point where they can successfully run the no-huddle option that seemed to deplete the team throughout games.   I’m not against Mike Sherman as some others but I do believe that if you are going to give the impression that you are going to revamp a unit then you might want to actually revamp it.

I will give Sherman a C+/B- for this season strictly on the fact that his players were not exactly what you would call top of the line or really not even close but he did make Brian Hartline look almost like a number 1 WR.  Like most of the coaching staff, it will take another year to really see what his plan is and how well he is implementing it.