Next Man Up No Longer Working For Miami Dolphins
By Brian Miller
Earlier in the season the Miami Dolphins lost linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to a season ending injury. Jelani Jenkis stepped up to be the next man up. When Koa Misi missed time and Phillip Wheeler missed time, Chris McCain and Jason Trusnik became the next man up. Knowshon Moreno? Lamar Miller was the next man up…well sort of. It appeared early that the Miami Dolphins had the right depth and the right mix of savvy veterans and promising rookies. It wasn’t to last however.
The “next man up” is a cliche’ that is used to inspire the next guy on the depth chart and the team support around him. Sometime it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Branden Albert goes down for the year and Ja’wuan James steps in without so much as a hiccup. But the right side has no next man up. Billy Turner and Nate Garner have been inactive while the team has turned to Dallas Thomas who can’t play right guard let alone right tackle. He has been atrocious yet the coaching staff, with the post season hanging in the balance continue to use him.
Samson Satele has missed series with an injury and while Mike Pouncey can step in without issue, filling Pouncey’s spot at guard is not an easy task. Poor planning on the right side of the line has led to a regression in performance of the line. It now looks like last years mess. Is that on Dennis Hickey for not adding solid depth or is that on the coaches who opted to keep these back-ups instead of asking for better?
This past Sunday the Dolphins coaches opted to keep five wide-receivers active for the game. That included both Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews. If one of them is inactive maybe Nate Garner fills in at right tackle as soon as Thomas begins to struggle. Poor planning.
If it were all on the offensive side of the ball the Miami Dolphins might have been able to move around enough to keep the wheels turning but hits to the defensive side of the ball have hurt too.
The Miami Dolphins lost Cortland Finnegan to an ankle injury and Jamar Taylor stepped in and took it over seamlessly as the next man up but when Taylor went down and Finnegan couldn’t return, the Dolphins looked to the street for R.J. Stanford. Not for depth but to start. It’s hard to imagine that there were not better options available. This week the Dolphins lost safety Louis Delmas for the season with an ACL tear and the next man up is rookie Walt Aikens from the small school of Liberty. The Arizona Cardinals added former Miami Dolphins safety Chris Clemons on Monday. The Dolphins must not have felt the need.
With the New England Patriots next up on the schedule the Dolphins had a hole to fill on the roster with the space created by the loss of Delmas. They signed linebacker Jake Knott of the practice squad. Knott a 2nd year player will see plenty of action on the special teams unit but it does nothing for the offensive line or the secondary.
While it appeared that the Dolphins had it all figured out and the plethora of depth players to bring the next man up, that well has apparently run dry on both sides of the ball. A loss on Sunday and it won’t much matter as the post season hopes will be shattered for another season.