How close were these Dolphins to being more than afterthought? Miami was leading the Giants by 11 and the Patriots by 17 points at the half. These are the two teams playing tomorrow for the NFL title and the Dolphins had the opportunity to beat both. There is a fine line between success and failure in the NFL, on many levels.
The QBs in this game are the same that were behind by a combined 28 points at half to the lowly Dolphins. Matt Moore was behind center for the Dolphins in both of these games and it could be used as a case in point for why an upgrade is needed at the QB position. Moore certainly did not help himself in these performances but there is more in the big picture than just the QB.
The Dolphins had fallen into a mentality of hoping for victory instead of expecting it and these two games highlight what needs to change in Miami. It was apparent at halftime, the coaches told the team something like, “all we have to do is hold on for 30 more minutes and this game is ours!”
In the NYG and NE locker rooms, something completely different was going on. The coaches for these squads were not even concerned with the score. These coaches had gone through every 1st half snap and found the keys to attacking Miami in the second half. While the Dolphin coaches, said, “stay with the game plan and ride this thing out.” Their opponents were going into attack mode.
Tony Sparano and Todd Bowles never understood, teams that win in the NFL never take the foot off the gas. 11 and 17 points are not safe leads, 24 or even 30 points are not safe. In professional football there is no such thing as a safe lead and conservative coaches are destined to lose.
Moore could have defined his career in either one of these games, but it's very possible he was held back by his own coaching staff’s conservative approach to losing. The offense that worked in the first half was abandoned in an attempt to run out the clock. The killer mentality of scoring points until your opponent gives up was foreign to these coaches and is what desperately needs to change in Miami.
What would Dolphin fans think of Matt Moore today had the Dolphins come out of both or either of these games with a defining victory. Maybe the franchise moniker would not seem so much of an afterthought. The style of play and the mentality were not conducive to a team that expected victory. The style was of a team hoping to win and Moore played like a man trying to guard a victory, instead trying to win it decisively.
Joe Philbin brings a different mentality to the Dolphins and it should be interesting to see how players like Matt Moore respond. Conservative coaches have priorities like; PROTECT THE FOOTBALL! As the main constructs that define the style of play they wish for the team. Attacking coaches have priorities like; THROW THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD, even when a receiver is well covered by a single defender.
It’s huge difference because the conservative style inhibits taking chances and scoring points. The players are focused on mistake free football being the key to winning football. Attack football allows players to take chances and use their athleticism, leading to scoring opportunities and pressure on the defense.
The key is discipline, throwing intercepts in a quest to score points is not what attacking is about. Attacking is finding the receiver who is single covered and allowing him to make a play on the ball, whether he is covered or not. Throwing the ball into triple coverage never works. Looking at the stats, many times a conservative approach leads to more turnovers because players think so much about not turning the ball over, that it is exactly what they do.
Miami has not played this style of football since Dan Marino and perhaps the reason Miami has not been able to find the illusive franchise QB has as much to do with the mentality of the coaching staffs as the QBs themselves. It’s very hard to find a great thrower when your prime directive is a conservative running game, just like it is hard to find a great running back with a throwing QB.
The rare offensive lineman that is great at both pass blocking and run blocking, also predicates the style an NFL team will play. A team can spend years looking for an entire line that can do both, (see what happened with Sparano) when settling primarily for one or the other is a more realistic option in the NFL.
It doesn’t mean a team cannot run the ball with a passing mentality, it means the style of running play is going to be different. Mis-direction, draws, screens and 3 step routes take the place of a power running attack. Philbin has been in the modern attacking NFL offense his entire time in Green Bay and that is what he brings to Miami.
The hope here is, the style and the system that dictates it, will lead to the player that can make it work, a franchise QB. That player could come from an unlikely source, like Matt Moore or an unheralded draft pick. It could from Matt Flynn, but Joe Philbin must force the system even if the players don’t fit. It seems like a contradiction from great coaches getting the most out of what they have, but in this case, the Dolphins already have a 6-10 team. It is not like the team will be stepping back from 12-4.
Here’s the hope that an attacking approach leads to an attacking QB. An attacking approach leads to 28 point halftime leads turning into 40 point victories. Here’s to beating teams when they are down and letting off the gas pedal when clock reads 00:00.
Here's to Miami riding out of Fox Borough after crushing the Patriots!