Analyzing the Miami Dolphins cut-down to 53 is an excellent indicator where the team is headed in 2011. This analysis will breakdown the offense, where most of the changes in Miami have occurred. A later post will be dedicated to the defense…
Brian Daboll will be given the opportunity to show what his offense can do and the ball is going to be in the air a lot in 2011. Keeping only two TEs and cutting Larry Johnson was telling, but showing Lousaka Polite the door proved, Miami is not looking back. Only Bush, Thomas and Hilliard remain at the running back position, with Charles Clay as a hybrid FB-HB-TE.
Tony Sparano may have feared he would revert back to his conservative ways had he kept more RBs and TEs around. He chose to cut ties with his old conservative style and proved it with the players and positions remaining on the Dolphin roster. The Dolphins no longer have a true FB and are only suiting to start one TE, Anthony Fasano, with Jeron Mastrud as a reserve. By keeping 6 WRs the Dolphin offense has now joined the modern NFL.
A closer look at the OL would also indicate the direction the Dolphins have chosen. Long, Incognito, Pouncey, Carey and Columbo are not a great combination of run blockers but as pass blockers they may surprise people. The only lineman capable of pulling on this team is Mike Pouncey, but pulling guards are passé in the NFL. The reason is, the passing game requires linemen that work better while backing up and the traditional running game requires blockers that fire off.
To facilitate the running game with back-peddling pass blockers, teams like Denver began what is now called zone blocking. Zone blocking is based on sealing off areas and allowing over-pursuit to create cutback lanes. To a traditional coach it is almost blasphemy because defensive players are intentionally left unblocked. It is difficult for a defensive coordinator tell his players to maintain lanes and stay disciplined in one sentence, and to fly to the football in the next. The zone scheme uses the natural tendencies of the defense to create running lanes without pulls or traps.
The Dolphins will be a passing team. The personnel dictates more 3, 4 and 5 receiver sets with one back and a TE on a wing as an H-back. A lot will be asked of Chad Henne who, after three years in a super conservative offense, will be told to let it fly. Speculation had the Dolphins pursuing every available QB during the off-season, only to see them keep two on the final roster. Pat Devlin will probably remain on the practice squad.
All of the players drafted by the Dolphins made the squad this year and John Jerry managed to hold on even after a disappointing pre-season. The Dolphins kept 3 tackles, 4 guards, with Joe Berger backing up Mike Pouncey at center. Lydon Murtha was placed on injured reserve with a torn toe ligament. Murtha showed the most upside of any backup, but he is gone for the season. Ray Feinga and Nate Garner are the remaining backup linemen.
Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore made the squad, both showing flashes of becoming starting NFL WRs. Philip Livas became a casualty of the new NFL kickoff rules which will lead to fewer kick returns and has devalued the need for a kick returner. There are bound to be changes as the personnel department looks at the players cut by other teams or poaches practice squads.
One thing for certain can be said about Tony Sparano, when he makes a decision and builds a plan around it, he does not go halfway. The Dolphins offensive squad is now built for the passing game and like going from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense, the personnel has changed with it. For the Dolphins there is no going back, the personnel are no longer here to revert to the running game.
Tony Sparano is all in with his knew look offense…
What say you Fin fans, are you all in???