Playoffs In View, Dolphins Still Have Questions
By Brian Miller
There is little doubt that there is a lot of excitement going into this weekends game against the visiting New York Jets. The Miami Dolphins are on the verge of making the post-season for the first time since 2008 and the first time since Stephen Ross took over the team as the owner. Yet for all of the hoopla fans should be experiencing it’s hard to ignore the details of a team that is just as close to being derailed.
Following last weeks game against the Bills, LT Bryant McKinnie told reporters that the defense knew the teams cadence. It’s not hard to do when your QB barks out “G0-GO” and “Go” to earmark a run or a pass. Fans have picked up on this since before the bye week. Yet the Dolphins still deny this to be an issue. Joe Philbin this week spoke to local media and again summarily discounted the teams cadence saying basically the Bills timed their rush effectively.
For the whole game? That’s a lot of lucky timing. Apparently the six sacks Miami gave up a week ago was also the result of good timing.
It’s not known why the Dolphins stick to the same cadence each week. They have only drawn a few defensive players off-sides all season. The Dolphins want you to believe that the use of the “G0-Go” style of cadence doesn’t help the defense as they still need to make split second decisions and diagnose the play. That may be true but there has to be some truth to the claims of McKinney. The Bills were in the back-field so much it appeared they were part of the Dolphins huddle at times.
Another problem is of course the play calling itself. Mike Sherman told reporters this week that they abandoned the run because they simply couldn’t run the ball against the Bills defense. That may be so to an extent but when they did run the ball they ran a fake read option that fooled no one. There was no creativity at any time against Buffalo and it could be argued that actually running the read and having Ryan Tannehill keep the ball may have loosened up the Bills defense a bit. The Dolphins didn’t attempt it at all.
Adding to that insult was the fact that at no time in Sunday’s game did Sherman roll his QB out of the pocket to avoid pressure. This is a QB who may be the best in the league at throwing on the run and that is not an exaggeration. Yet he is the one QB in the league who doesn’t roll out often enough for it to matter. Another question that was dismissed as easily as the others. I wish it would stop there but unfortunately it does not.
The Dolphins are supposedly running a version of the West Coast offense but the team rarely uses a no-huddle approach and seem to shuffle players in and out every other play. Miami is a speed team and yet they don’t use their speed to their advantage. In fact it could be argued they don’t use it at all. The team at times appear to be lethargic. They play with little sense of urgency at times and offensively that has to be placed on the shoulders of the OC and HC. A team playing from behind in the second half who have not moved the ball well all day (or at all) should be no-huddle to the line every down they have the ball but Miami does’t play with that type of consistency and effort unless it’s a lead takeover drive.
The Dolphins of 2014 are a playoff caliber team but they are also a team that doesn’t play like they want it or act like they are being coached to want it. This is not an opinion based on one game vs. Buffalo but an overall feel of the season as a whole. Remember, this team aside from Buffalo’s game on Sunday and the New Orleans game way back in the first month of the season were the only two game Miami got blown out of. While some can argue that Miami could just as easily be 13-1 right now they could also be looking at challenging the Washington Redskins for the worst record in football.
The truth is this team is very talented and whether a result of poor coaching or poor execution the team isn’t living up to the standards of the talent on the team. Sorry Jeff Ireland haters but this is on paper the most talented team since probably the Dave Wannstedt era that was formed by Jimmy Johnson. Something however is amiss and perhaps if you want to throw a jab at Ireland the lack of cohesion on both sides of the unit could a result of the fact there were a lot new faces this year.
Regardless of what or who is to blame the Dolphins may be in a bit of denial when it comes to their approach to Sunday’s. Talented yes but something from upstairs isn’t making it to the field. That may be passion or desire. The Dolphins lack a killer instinct. They lack the instinct to dictate a game. The Miami Dolphins are a team that will take what is given them instead of dictating what they want to do. And when they do they rarely do it for a full 60 minutes.
With some luck the Miami Dolphin will find themselves in the playoffs come Sunday night. It could give this team that “back-against-the-wall” feel that might do damage in the post season. It could also simply be a reached objective and another flat performance because they reached their goal. The coaches need to stop hindering this team and let them play football. They need to give them the opportunity to prove themselves on the field by putting them in the best positions to win at all times. It’s time to stop playing conservative and stop playing chess. It’s time for these coaches to pull out the stops and let the team play to their strengths instead of the oppositions.