Miami Dolphin coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman share a common philosophy. They believe having the ability to throw the football is crucial in today’s NFL. Offenses must use multiple sets showing a wide variety of formations and personnel groupings, from a two back - two tight end look, to five wideouts staggered across the line of scrimmage. There is only one thing wrong with this perspective; they inherited a team built to play a power running game.
Drafting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is only the first step in the process of revamping a roster where square pegs do not fit in round holes. The obvious glaring weakness is at the receiver positions. Devone Bess and Brian Hartline are good secondary options as is Anthony Fasano, all three of these players deserve to be on the roster but none is truly a playmaking game breaking receiver.
There is a segment of the fan base convinced Brandon Marshall could have filled that void and trading him was a mistake. The rest, believe Marshall was nothing more than a selfish brooding child with a borderline personality disorder. The truth is, Marshall could not be depended on in critical situations. He has all the physical prowess of the game’s best receivers, but he simply does not have the mental capabilities to match.
The problem facing the Dolphins was outlined in an earlier article which showed trading Marshall accelerated his signing bonus to this year’s salary cap. That made it impossible for the Dolphins to be more than bit players in free agency. This is the reason Chad Johnson, Legadu Naanee and Anthony Armstrong were the only options available given Miami’s cap space. None of these receivers is in the Vincent Jackson category, which was out of the Dolphins reach.
Selecting tackle Jonathan Martin in the second round was a wise decision based on his play early in the season. The choice was not only made because Martin was the best available player, Miami also felt it imperative to keep the QB upright. The move now looks a lot better considering they are starting a rookie QB. Tannehill won’t go far in this league if he spends more time in the training room than on the field.
The biggest disappointment of the draft is Michael Egnew. As a senior at Missouri Egnew caught 47 passes, adding to the 90 catches he had as a junior, but he has been noticeably inactive with the Dolphins. Egnew would have been a compliment to Fasano with the speed to get open in the seams, but obviously, he will not be much help to Miami this season.
The bottom line for the Dolphins is, without cap space, Miami was not capable of spending on free agents, which left them with lower tier options. They chose a QB in the first round of the draft and decided protecting him was more viable than hoping a second round wide receiver would become the missing playmaker.
What this all leads to is... Miami will revert to the running game in 2012. They have a great back and two very good young talents behind him, a bruising fullback and good blocking tight ends, all led by a young inexperienced QB behind an underrated offensive line. The philosophy has not changed; the coaches are simply doing the best with the personnel currently on the roster.
In the fourth quarter of the Jets game, Mike Sherman learned a big lesson; no matter how much he would like to take advantage of the safeties creeping in the box, he doesn’t have the horses to throw the ball against a good coverage secondary. Miami will be a running team and fans will have to live with it until Philbin and Sherman have the talent to execute the scheme they undoubtedly will move toward in the future.
There is another advantage to being able to run the ball; it takes the pressure off the rookie QB. So while it may seem Joe Philbin is a reincarnation of Tony Sparano, there is a plan and hopefully Dolphin fans have the patience for it to come to fruition. Unlike Sparano, Joe Philbin is not enchanted with a gadget play, he sees where he would like to go and has the Dolphins traveling down the right path to get there.
Be patient and have faith Miami fans… The cycle of the NFL is coming back around to the Dolphins. The day of the white hanky will rise again!