The rookie quarterbacks put on the show Sunday, but it was the veteran leaders on the Dolphins that proved Miami's undoing. The closest thing to veteran leadership in Miami comes from Reggie Bush, Jake Long and Anthony Fasano on offense and Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and Sean Smith on defense.
Reggie Bush and Cameron Wake exonerated
themselves from criticism by making plays, but their veteran teammates must be held accountable. Joe Philbin needs to send the
right message to the
youngsters by calling out the pathetic play of the leaders during film study.
Jake Long had
perhaps his worst day as a professional and his final trip to Hawaii may have come and gone. Dwight Freeney’s early spin move resulted in a
sack of Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill fumbled and Long somehow
managed to catch the ball and make a positive play, but Freeney had his
number the entire game.
bull-rushes made Long look feeble, slow and flatfooted. The first half ended with a speed rush that confused both Long and running back
Daniel Thomas resulting
in another big hit on Tannehill. The veteran Long missed the
assignment. The tackle should always take the defensive end and leave
the linebacker to the halfback. Even if it gone for
a first down, the final offensive play of the game
for the Dolphins would not have counted as the Colts declined Long’s holding penalty.
Jake Long is
destined for free agency after the season. After four straight
pro-bowls, his reign as a dominant left tackle could be in
jeopardy. Long will have
to take a significant pay cut to remain in Miami and that could even
include a switch to right tackle. If Long demands more than his
mediocre performance is worth, this may be his last year as a Dolphin. Jake
Long needs to step up if Miami has any true playoff
hopes, his position is critical to protecting Miami’s prized rookie QB. Should long's immobility cause an injury to Tannehill, it will not be forgotten in the off-season.
was unable to find an opening in the Colts secondary and only caught one
pass. Because of the problem Long and his fellow line-mates were having
down Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, Fasano was used mainly as a
blocker. Averaging 4.7 yards per carry, the Dolphins inexplicably only
rushed the ball 18 times in the entire game. Fasano’s holding call
midway through the third quarter eventually
forced a Dolphin punt. Fasano did not play a terrible game, but it was not good enough to win.
On defense, Karlos Dansby had
9 tackles but there were receivers running open through the middle of
the Dolphin defense the entire game. Dansby will not be highlighted as a
suspect in the losing effort, but he was nearly invisible. When the
Dolphins needed a veteran to step up and make a play, Karlos was chasing
receivers and making many of his tackles ten or more yards down the
field allowing long third down conversions.
Many of the
thirteen out of nineteen times Luck and the Colts converted on third
down came on passes in the center of the field with Dansby unable to
make a play. Seven
of those passes went for nine yards or longer and are the kind of
plays that left the defense shaking their heads and gasping for air.
Dansby needed to provide a veteran spark, but instead
allowed a rookie QB to steal the show.
Smith reverted to the inconsistent player that has infuriated Dolphin
fans since he was drafted four years ago. Smith is a gifted athlete, but
from the cornerback position are glaring. Smith was in coverage on both
Luck’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne and his 36-yard touchdown
pass to TY Hilton.
On the long pass
to Hilton, Smith said, “I lost it in the light, went blind.” The
wobbling desperation pass was easy pickings for Smith, but he turned
awkwardly with his
back to the receiver and knocked Miami safety Chris Clemons off the coverage.
Smith simply needed to follow the receiver and he would have been able
to locate the ball, but he reacted as if the stadium lights were rays
With 2:59 left
and the game still in the balance Smith had another opportunity to
redeem himself. Andrew Luck found him again for an easy interception
that would have
given the Dolphins the ball at the Colts’ 30, already in range for a
game tying field goal. Instead, after pulling in the pass he somehow managed to let it slip through his hands and fall harmlessly to the ground.
The Colts punted and their defense held the Dolphins
to end the game.
It seems our
entire society has grown insistent on the blame game, the word accident may as
well be struck from the dictionary, unfortunately it was no accident or
this article is focused on Jake Long and Sean Smith. The Colts saw
something other teams had missed, the Colts saw two veterans living off
their reputation and not playing at an elite level. Long’s quick feet
have turned to stone and Smith's unusual height and athleticism have caused
him to ignore technique.
These two players needed to make strides this season as leaders on the field and if this game is an indication, it has not happened.
cannot afford to spend more draft picks on offensive linemen. Long and
Pouncey are first round picks, Martin is a second, Jerry is a third
along with Richey
Incognito (Rams 2005). Samson Satele who started for the Colts was a
second round pick for Miami who was let go for Jake Grove who the
Dolphins paid $14 million dollars to before drafting Pouncey.
Sean Smith was
drafted in the second round in 2009 along with first round pick Vontae
Davis. Davis is already gone, making Smith the leader in the secondary
and with a performance
like this, coaches must be wondering if he can be entrusted with the
future. Miami will be forced to add players to the secondary in 2013,
but with the hope Smith would be a veteran leader. Unfortunately, Sean Smith has not shown the maturity and
consistency to be a leader and the Dolphins may
have to revert to free agency.
The failure of
these two players has a ripple effect now and in the future for the
Dolphins. In the present, both have been exposed and both will be
in the coming weeks. There will be no reputation to live off any
longer. The Dolphins will know by season’s end whether these two players
will need replacements.
The drafting of
Jonathan Martin is already an indication Miami may know more about Jake
Long’s long-term viability in the NFL than they are letting on. Long is
same player that was picked with first selection of the 2008 draft.
After four seasons, a consistent light is not burning in the heart of
Sean Smith. These are huge gaps for the Dolphins to fill whether through
the draft or in free agency.
Fans that were
disappointed a wide receiver was not selected high in the 2012 draft will be
livid when a tackle or corner must be selected because these two players
lived up to the billing. The spotlight is no longer on Ryan Tannehill,
the light will be burning bright on Jake Long and Sean Smith after
Miami’s future opponents spend time breaking down the Colts film.
The rookie is doing just fine, it’s time for Jake Long and Sean Smith to step up or their days are numbered in Miami...