Analyzing The Miami Dolphins on First Down

Consider the following chart...
 
These are all the plays the Miami Dolphins ran on 1st down against the Seattle Seahawks broken down by the direction of the play, on runs and Ryan Tannehill's passing. The left 3rd of the chart are the runs to the left, center of the chart are the runs to right, and the right 3rd of the chart are passing situations.

Some interesting tendencies begin to develop when breaking down the Dolphins. The most glaring - Find the name Thomas on the chart.

Notice the direction Daniel Thomas runs on every first down carry... When Thomas is in the game on first down the Dolphins run to right side of the line, in every instance. Watching the game it is difficult to notice the subtle nuances in play calling, but teams have staffs of professionals combing data to find tendencies. Thomas running to the right on first down will clearly be highlighted in the New England Patriot film session. 


 Reggie Bush is a little more illusive.

Although there is a tendency, when the Dolphins run left on first down; they do it with Reggie bush. There is data missing that gives defenders even a little more ability to anticipate the offense. Formations and pulling linemen are huge keys for a linebacker.

Zach Thomas always seemed to be moving to the ball. Many times broadcasters spoke of Thomas's instincts, but there was much more going on with Thomas. He broke down offenses in different situations and was able to follow keys that led him to the ball carrier.

A pulling lineman cannot be disguised. A 300 pound man drawing back and running across the backfield has nowhere to hide. When Mike Pouncey got around the left side on Bush's 21 yard TD scamper, Zach Thomas may have been able to breakdown the film and be in position to stop the play.

What about the passing...

There were 14 situations where Ryan Tannehill passed on first down. Three of those opportunities were either a kneel down at the half or the two spikes on the final drive, those are greyed out on the chart and eliminated in the count. With those removed, Tannehill was successful on 6 of 11 first down passing attempts, 55%. Though the gains on successful throws were substantial, the average when considering the miscues was actually less than the running plays (see main chart) at 6.9 yards per attempt. For a comparison, Tom Brady had a similar completion percentage and his average yardage was equitable. The difference in the Patriot offense versus the Dolphins is, Miami passes 38% of the time on first down, while NE passes well over 50% of the time. The conclusion from the style of offense is, New England does not believe negative plays or incompletions, on first down, are detrimental to their offense.

The Patriots place no special relevance on first down.

This is what sets New England's offense apart from the rest of the NFL, except perhaps Denver, Green Bay and New Orleans. These teams have such great confidence in their QBs, first down is not a mystical must gain 5 yard down for the offense to be successful. The reason is simple, give Brady, Manning, Rodgers or Brees 3 chances to throw for 10 yards and they will make the play many more times than not.

This is where Miami is hoping to go, but also what Miami must defend against this week. The reality in the NFL is, when a team has a QB and offense capable of completing passes, even when the defense is playing the pass, there is little opponents can do to stop them once the train starts rolling.

Defeating New England on Sunday will not come on the predictable tendencies of Bush Left and Thomas right, it will come on the arm of Ryan Tannehill and a Miami offense that can make one throw in three further than ten yards.

To beat New England, Miami will have to score points and keep Tom Brady on the bench. With Bill Belichick on the opposing sideline, going against tendencies will be the key. Time for the rookie to open the door to the future.

There's is nothing to lose by being wide open. Playing to tendencies will surely lead to defeat...

May as well let it go Dolphins!

Miami Dolphin QB Tannehill Erases 4th Quarter Failures

"It’s huge," Ryan Tannehill said. "We’ve had a couple situations this year where we had a chance to do it and we weren’t able to do it. To finally go out and execute it and come away with a win, it feels great."  Tannehill completed 7 of 9 passes for 156 yards and the Dolphins scored 17 points, overcoming 14-7 and 21-14 deficits, in a 4th quarter barrage that left Miami fans wondering where this team was hiding for almost 4 weeks.

Joe Philbin said it best, "You need to win some games like this. I think it's important for a quarterback to do this, any quarterback. Ryan Tannehill certainly, but any quarterback in this league, I think has to demonstrate an ability to do this." As Riverdog pointed out in a comment earlier, it was the first time the Dolphins won in 49 opportunities when trailing by seven points or more entering the fourth quarter.

This has been the missing link in Miami since 12/18/2005… The starting QB in that game against the Jets was Gus Frerotte, but Sage Rosenfels stepped in for the injured Frerotte and threw a 50-yard TD pass to Marty Booker to clinch the victory. Sage Rosefels, not Gus
Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Trent Green, John Beck, Cleo Lemon, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen or Matt Moore, ten QBs and none could pull off the illusive come-from-behind victory.

All elite quarterbacks in the NFL are judged on the ability to bring a team from behind in the fourth quarter and win. This trait separates all ten wannabe QBs listed above from names like Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Payton Manning and Tom Brady. The first and foremost stat defining a great quarterback is wins. At the end of a game when a crucial plays are the difference between winning and losing, the great ones find a way.

One come-from-behind victory does not place Ryan Tannehill in the elite status, but it does bring hope the rookie has what it takes to carry a team when the pressure is on. For the entire season, fans in Miami have been waiting for a sign that Tannehill has the special something missing since 2005 and more realistically since Dan Marino retired in 1998. Sage Rosenfels is never going to be associated with the word "elite" but perhaps Ryan Tannehill will.

There were many other reasons for the Dolphins victory, the running game finally got on track with 189 yards and a 6.8 average. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas finally developed continuity as a tandem gaining 147 yards. The defense held Marshawn Lynch to only 46 yards on 19 carries for a season low 2.4 yards per carry.
 

The Seahawks had every opportunity to beat Tannehill and Miami. Russell Wilson went 21 for 27 for 224 yards and two scores, increasing his season total to 17 TD passes. He also ran for 38 yards. Old Dolphin nemesis Leon Washington took a kickoff untouched for a 98-yard touchdown. The return came after Tannehill threw an awful interception across his body in the endzone that was fortuitously nullified by a roughing the passer penalty on Seattle safety Earl Thomas leading to a Miami score.

The Dolphins and Tannehill could have thrown in the towel, but the 4th quarter showing was the rise from the ashes Phoenix game Tannehill and Miami needed after losing twice in overtime and once by 4 points. These are the defining games that set great quarterbacks apart.

Seattle entered the game with a defense ranked No. 2 in points allowed and No. 3 in total yardage. It was not a victory against a lowly defense and once Miami reverted to the fast paced, no huddle offense that served the Dolphins so well early in the season, the Seahawks quickly wore down and had no answer.

There is talk of playoffs still alive in Miami, but those words mean nothing with the Patriots looming on Sunday. The Dolphins and Tannehill have won one game under come-from-behind 4th quarter pressure, the real test is when Tom Brady is slinging the rock on the other sideline. Great QBs do not shy away from these games, they seek them out, the great ones know, to be the best, they must beat the best.

The Dolphins will know Ryan Tannehill has arrived when games against the Tom Brady’s of the NFL are no longer viewed as easy Patriot victories. It will come, when Tannehill and his Miami Dolphin 4th quarter comebacks are feared in a league where seven points or less is most often the margin of victory.

The first step came Sunday, the next step will be huge…

Forget Seattle, bring on the Patriots!

Miami Dolphins Edge Out Seattle Seahawks 24-21

The Miami Dolphins ended their 3-game losing streak on Sunday with a 24-21 win at home against the surging Seattle Seahawks.

Miami was finally able to get their running attack going again. Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined for 147 rushing yards and two TDs. They were equally as successful stopping the run, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry to the Seahawks.

Ryan Tannehill threw for 253 yards as he passed the great Dan Marino for most yards by a rookie quarterback in a season in Dolphins franchise history (note that Marino set the previous mark in nine games). More impressively, though, he led the Dolphins on three scoring drives late in the 4th quarter. This was Tannehill's first victory after throwing an interception. In all four of Miami's previous wins Tannehill didn't throw an interception, but he was able to bounce back from an early pick this week to lead the Dolphins to a victory.

This might have been Tannehill's best game so far simply because he brought Miami to victory late in the game, something he hadn't done yet this season.

The Dolphins now sit at 5-6 and still in the playoff hunt. The Steelers currently hold the last wild card spot at 6-5, so Miami does have a realistic chance. They will need to play really well to finish out the season, though, because they have the 49ers next week as well as two games against the Patriots.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at paul@dolphinshout.com. I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.



It's Tannehill, not Tanney-hill!

Miami Dolphins vs Seattle Seahawks Live Game Chat

This could be Miami's last chance to turn the season around. Let's see what happens.




The Miami Dolphins and Joe Philbin: What to Do?

Let's say you are Joe Philbin. Your team has come off three losses in a row to teams that are not that much better than you are, and one of those teams completely blows you out of the water. For the past two weeks your team has faced two of the worst defenses in the league, and those two defensive units have dominated your offense.

You are now 10 games into the season and you know that your defensive unit does fine when they are playing against teams that have little speed in the offensive backfield. When you play a team that has a mobile QB or speed demon for a running back you are over matched.

Your offense has so many holes and weaknesses it is impossible to put a drive together or control the ball for very long. Coming into this year, you knew the offensive line wasn't very good. So you went out and tried to find a few free agents to fill the holes and shore up that unit. Unfortunately two of those players brought here never made the regular season because of injuries. Your best wide receiver basically fired himself after the Pro Bowl last year with a brainless statement about the QB situation in Miami. So you, as a new head coach, sent him packing in short order. Couple that with a young, inexperienced QB that only played 19 games at QB in College. It is easy to see why the offensive unit has struggled so mightily.

Your special teams play has been excellent. It is the only unit on the team you can look at and say, I like what I see. With the exception of the place kicker, they have not made very many mistakes. Your punter, coverage, and return teams are the one bright spot of the team. You could say of the four wins your team has won your special teams has played a huge part, and two of those wins were directly associated to them.

You are now the head coach of a franchise that has a losing mentality that has been ingrained into them for many years now. You seem to have a few players that are simply going through the motions of playing football. They are devoid of any emotions and they are at the point that they don't care about winning. "Just give me my check at the end of the month and I'm good to go"

So here is my question. If you were Joe Philbin, what would you do to turn things around? I have an idea of what I would do. If I could I would like to use a comparison in this case. Say you own a company and you have a few employees that are good workers, but for some reason or other they don't care about the product they are putting out any longer. There is no doubt in your mind they can turn out a good product when they are in the mood to do so. In between those moments they are so disruptive for the other employee's it makes it hard on them to do their jobs.

You see, I have been in that position before and there is only one thing you can do. You must muddle through and locate the source of the problem, and then you must eliminate it. Even at the risk of making your team weaker. As the owner of a small company or its manager, you must do what you must in order to survive.

That is the position that Joe Philbin is in at this moment. Some thing tells me Philbin is about to turn a leaf with this team. The signs have been there all year. He sent Marshall and Davis packing. Last week he threw in a few players at the start of the 3rd quarter and benched some of the regulars. Charles Clay had a larger role, as did Rishard Mathews and Marlon Moore. Young, hungry players that don't know they play for the Miami Dolphins and that they are supposed to lose. That is how you get out of a losing mentality that has plagued this team for years.  You simply replace the losers

A Message From Dolphin Shout

We would like to take this time to thank each and everyone of you that have contributed to this Community over the course of this year. We know that you have not always agreed with us, but isn't that what makes this site so much fun?

No one here ever thought this Community would get as large as it has, and we owe all of that to you. You guys make this site go!

So from all of us here on Dolphin Shout, myself (Gary) and my wife Beth. Thank you, for allowing us into your homes.

5 Keys to Resurrecting the Miami Dolphin Offense

Talk in Miami is centered around the regression of Ryan Tannehill and the stagnation of the Dolphin offense.

The Miami Dolphin wide receivers cannot get off press coverage. Miami does not have physical receivers and secondaries are pressing tight on the line of scrimmage, taking away Ryan Tannehill’s bread and butter quick throws. The culprit has been easy for defensive coordinators to pinpoint and Miami does not have an answer.

Initially, Houston timed up Tannehill on three step drops and were able to bat balls in the air leading to INTs and broken plays. Tannehill overcame that by finding throwing lanes and not staring down his intended target. Defensive backs were giving enough cushion for Davone Bess and Brian Hartline to release from the line on quick slants and back shoulder sideline routes.

Not knowing the Dolphins tendencies caused defenses to play honest early in the season, but much has changed in the past month. By applying physical press coverage, defenses have taken away the three step drops. By bringing an eighth man into the box, defenses have added an extra run defender. These two changes have virtually shut down the Miami offense.

Ryan Tannehill’s inexperience has him reverting to the same audible calls against known defensive alignments. By presenting Tannehill with certain packages, defenses know the checks he will call and move defenders to take away the play after the snap.

These are the keys to Miami coming out of the offensive funk and using their own tendencies against defenses. 

1. Drive off press coverage by throwing medium to long range on 1st down.
a.       Play action off typical 1st down run.
b.      Two receiver route to max protect.
c.       TE and RB slide to flats for second options after blocks.

       2. Load the field with 4 and 5 WRs early in the game on early downs.
a.       Mix with option number 1 above, using the same personnel.
b.      Split TE and RB into slot.
c.       Use pick slats on 3 step drops.

       3. Use a fast tempo offense in 4 and 5 WRs formations to pull the 8th man out.
a.       2nd and 3rd down run the plays fast and furious.
b.      Do not allow the defense to set.
c.       Script plays for faster tempo.

       4. Use the QB draw early in the spread formation to initiate a defensive spy.
a.       The Draw is a called play, delayed draw.
b.      Sprint draw.
c.       Spread option, wildcat back in motion.

       5. Change Tannehill’s routine audible calls into play fakes off the old favorites.
a.       Play action off plays normally called.
b.      Self scout to see tendencies and play off them.
c.       Keep changing; don’t fall into same tendencies during the game.

Following these five keys the Dolphins can force defenses out of the box and dictate tempo.

One of the biggest problems for Miami has been allowing the defense to control the line of scrimmage. It is not always the fault of the linemen because when an offense becomes predictable defenses shoot known gaps. The problem for defenses, like offenses, is these can be exploited by using the motion to leverage defenders in the direction they are already moving.

The Miami Dolphins have been making the fatal mistake of not taking their own tendencies one step beyond the fix. Many times teams will know what they tend to do in certain situations, but the fix is not the obvious first response. Like a great chess player, the team must be one step further ahead. When adjusting for an obvious tendency, the team must anticipate the defensive adjustment as well and go one step further.

Adjust for the fix of the tendency... The concept is foreign to those not inclined to the chess board, but for those with understanding of the age-old game, the strategy is well known. Think a little further ahead than just the next move. Anticipate what the opponent will do to adjust and attack the adjustment.

Joe Philbin gives the impression of being one of the more cerebral coaches the Dolphins have seen since Don Shula, but he has issues that have been hard to overcome. The last two weeks have been quick turn around games with a rookie QB not 100% healthy. There has been little time to install layers in the schematics and Miami has been caught unprepared.

These are double rookie mistakes; one for the coach not recognizing the need to use the bye week to install another layer to the offense and two by a rookie QB being limited in his ability to absorb and process the extreme amount of data. When a QB has two off-seasons and one year as a starter under his belt he has seen three times the number offensive situations as Ryan Tannehill. This is the issue with an inexperienced rookie on a young team.

There is the sentiment that if Andrew Luck can do this and Tannehill cannot than Tannehill is not in the same league as Luck... Wrong! Luck started 37 games at Stanford. Over a full NFL season's worth of games compared to Tannehill's 19. That's the reason most NFL personnel people say a QB should have at least 30 collegiate starts. The game experience is invaluable and cannot be simulated.

Tannehill showed the abilities required for quarterbacking in the NFL, but simply does not have the experience and it has caught up with the Dolphins. He is too easy for defenses to scheme around and unfortunately there is little the Dolphins can do but have patience and spoon feed him situational football.

With ten days to prepare Miami should come out against the Seahawks with some new wrinkles, but Seattle is a tough physical team. A receiver corps that is not good at getting off press coverage represents a huge problem against Seattle. The Seahawks have perhaps the most physically daunting secondary in the NFL and it will prove a mighty challenge for the Dolphin offense.

Much of the media and fan chatter has begun to fall on the legitimacy of the personnel in Miami. Jeff Ireland enjoyed a reprieve while the Dolphins won three consecutive games, but the bulls-eye is refocusing on the Miami GM. Once again this is misguided, the talent level is simply not that much different between teams in the NFL with a few very exceptional exceptions.

It all centers around the quarterback. When there is exceptional performance from this position the entire team plays well. When there is mediocre performance at this position the team plays mediocre and when it is bad, it is bad... That does not mean Ryan Tannehill is bad or was not a good draft pick for the Dolphins. It means, he has the skill for the position but is seriously lacking in the experience and it is coming to light as the season progresses.

There is no choice Dolphin fans... Endure these rough times as Miami fans have learned to do and realize, there are better days ahead when Ryan Tannehill has about 40 games of experience.

Looking at the team and the QB in these terms sets a time-line realistically aligned with expectancy. The Dolphins are a couple years away, again. It seems to Miami fans as the never ending story, but the kid has the tools and the coach has the smarts.

It may seem impossible for fans to fathom, but things are looking up in Miami...

Would the Real Miami Dolphins Please Stand Up?

Well that was another disappointing loss. I don't know what to think about the Dolphins when they play two games in a row as they have. There is so much blame to go around, I won't even go into it. So I will try to point out some of good points that I noticed. Don't worry it won't take long.

Somewhere during the 3rd quarter the coaching staff began to plug in some of the young pups. I saw Stanford inserted into the game in place of Sean Smith.  I'm not even sure if Stanford was his name! I did not hear why Smith was replaced. Was he injured? Reggie Bush opened the 3rd quarter on the bench and Daniel Thomas took his place, not that it mattered that much, and Reggie did return. Marlon Moore and Richard Matthews were inserted. Charles Clay had a pass thrown his way.

I can't tell you why these players mentioned were thrown into the game, but I do have a guess. I think the Dolphins may have turned the corner and decided it's time to make a change. A change that has been needed for a very long time.

They can change the coaching staffs all they want, but until they change the players on the field nothing is going to be different. If we are going to lose games and the starters that we have play like they have for the past few weeks then why not make a change?

The only choice Philbin has is to begin to play the players that this staff brought here. The veterans are not getting the job done, even an untrained fan like me can see that. A good percentage of veterans on this team either don't care, are lazy, not very good, or are just down right dogging it.

Philbin has opened the door for the veterans on this team that don't care to walk out that door. Now do the fans a favor and walk through that door.

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills Live Game Chat

We need this game if we want to have any hope of making the playoffs.

Click here to watch the game live courtesy of NFL Network.





Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills Preview

I didn't get to see last week's game, and it seems that was a good thing. I don't think I would have liked what I saw. It was one of those games that people simply want to forget about. Any time a team plays a game as we did last week the only thing the players and the fans can do is move on to the next game. I really don't think the Dolphins are as bad as what they showed last week.

So now we are looking at the Buffalo Bills, a long-time hated rival. Without looking at the stats (which I hate to do by the way) I know that the Bills can put up some points. CJ Spiller, one of my favorites in the draft a few years ago, is starting in the place of the injured Fred Jackson. I would rather see Fred Jackson in the game to be honest. CJ Spiller scares the bejeebers out of me. He is a lot like Chris Johnson from last week, and from what I heard Miami didn't fare to well with him.

The Dolphins handled Bills receiver Stevie Johnson pretty well last year, but judging by the play of our secondary in the past few weeks he should have a big game tonight. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is the wild-card in this game. He makes some strange throws at times, and we will need to count on him doing that this week.

The Dolphins on the other hand have been playing, well, let's just say not so very good. The defense came apart at the seams last week. I'm also wondering if anyone has noticed how bad the secondary has been playing since Richard Marshall went down? It's as if they have changed their coverages since that time. I think we have a serious problem at the safety positions, and Coyle, no matter what he says, doesn't trust Clemons and Jones. That is why we are seeing all the soft coverages.

Overall I think the team has done a pretty good job. They are using players that don't fit the system of a west coast offense, and in particular on the offensive line. I'm not singling out Long and Jerry here, but they don't fit the west coast mold at all. That is not their fault. Neither one of them plays well in space or on the move. Long because of injuries, and Jerry because of size. The west coast offense depends on stretch plays, and the linemen getting cut off blocks on the back side. Those cut off blocks are not there, and that is the problem. Martin isn't playing very well either, but I think that is because he isn't strong enough at this time.

If you had told me we would have a 4-5 season at this time of the year before the season started. I would have told you to let me know when you wake from your dream. As the wins mount up so do our expectations, so we don't expect to lose games to teams like Tennessee. We have a rookie QB and about 13 new young players on the team that at times play like they are clueless.

I think we are progressing, we need some play makers that's for sure. Lamar Miller could be one of them.  We need more speed on the outside and in the linebacker position, in particular on the inside. We have a coaching staff that expects their team to execute the plays, and they know what we need to improve.

One last thing. Joe Philbin doesn't take any crap from his players, and we as Dolphin fans better be getting used to that. What Joe says goes in this organization.

Dolphin Contract Players Doing Themselves no Favors

Now shout fans understand why I wouldn’t come off the five win prediction I made prior to the season. Now they understand what was tugging in the back of my mind forcing me to avoid following my heart. Been there, done that, no way was I setting myself up for the inevitable disappointment. I wasn’t surprised when I turned the television off at the beginning of the third quarter of the Tennessee debacle, I expected it.

After the 30-9 destruction of the Jets, the Dolphins should have been poised to play hardnosed competitive football for the rest of the season, but they packed it in. They beat their nemesis, proved they could rise above 500, and started beating their chests forgetting there was still half a season to play. Many of the dismal stats that fans refused to believe were important, showed up when emotion could no longer carry the day.

“That team I watched for 30 minutes was not the team I coached for eight games,” said Joe Philbin. Welcome to our world Joe. We’ve come to understand, talent outside the QB position is not much different from team to team. We understand the game is about intensity, discipline and overcoming adversity. We learned this through watching other teams rise from the abyss, like Colts have done with a rookie QB. We’ve learned good teams show up for games every week because any team can win in the NFL.

The Dolphins have yet to figure it out. The QB or coach doesn’t seem to matter, it’s the new Dolphin legacy, South Beach millionaires cannot be expected to show up for mere football games, they may get dirt under their manicured finger nails. The stands were noticeably sparse, perhaps the faithful decided they would not get fooled again by a team that teases and then kicks them in the face. One of the Dolphinshout brethren drove all the way from South Carolina to feel that donkey punch. He will certainly think twice before undertaking that endeavor again.

All the clich├ęs dictating how to lose were on display, not taking care of the ball and getting baited into bonehead penalties, not tackling and being in the wrong coverage or no coverage at all, being completely dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage, it was all there Sunday. Losing is inevitable when the team plays like losers. It’s okay Dolphin fans you can say it, the Dolphins are losers.

Mr. Ross, it’s not about celebrity and extravagance, in fact it’s the opposite. The real Miami fans are dwindling because the team appears to care more about celebrity and extravagance than football. The supposedly sold-out stadium was half empty because the tickets are bought by people that can afford extravagance but could care less about football. The real fans are priced out and people that can afford the tickets don’t show up. It’s the same product on the field, players making too much money go partying on South Beach then don’t show up for the game.

Sadly, Joe Philbin is only now beginning to realize what he got himself into when he accepted this job. It must be puzzling to look up at a sold-out stadium with a sea of empty seats. It must be puzzling to see a talented football team decide to not show up for a game. The Dolphin roster is full of players in a contract year and the impact on their future value should be an incentive to play at high level week in and week out, but it appears to be of no significance. It makes sense, once there's a few million in the bank football doesn't really matter anymore.

Logic would say one of two things, either these players do not want to play in Miami or they are just not very good. Not wanting to play in Miami would be inconsequential when a free agent can select his next destination. Playing well in Miami would only raise his value no matter where he lands, so that only leaves one option, these players do not care. They expect the fans to show up in the stands but they don’t show up on the field.

The coaches can prepare a team to play, they can go through all the scenarios expected on game day, but they cannot take the field. It is up to the players to show up on game day and the Dolphins did not. The only clear message after so many years of below average performances is to jettison the players that are not showing up. Let pending free agents go. The team should be very careful which players on this free agent list deserve a premium contract.

Jake Long
Matt Moore
R.J. Stanford
Randy Starks
Tony McDaniel
Jonathon Amaya
Reggie Bush
Austin Spitler
Ray Feinga
Anthony Fasano
Nate Garner
Jonathan Freeny
Chris Clemons
Jason Trusnik
Pat Devlin
Sean Smith
Jabar Gaffney
Marcus Thigpen
Brian Hartline
Jeron Mastrud
Anderson Russell


Will Barker

The Dolphin management needs to call these players out. Some will demand a salary comparable to the best players in the league at their positions. The question is, are they playing at that level? Of the starters listed on the left, only Randy Starks, Anthony Fasano and Brian Hartline are playing a level worthy of consideration and only Starks is in the upper echelon at his position. Long, Bush, Clemons and Smith are not worthy of anything more than a mediocre deal equitable with their mediocre play. Of the non-starters, only Matt Moore is worth the $2.5 million he is paid as a backup.

Two weeks in a row and the names Long, Smith and Bush rise to the top of the ire in Dolphin fandom. For the second week in a row Dolphin fans are asking these players to step up and be a veteran presence. It is time for Joe Philbin to make some critical decisions, it’s obvious by sitting of Bush and Incognito he is very unhappy with players making stupid mistakes. These are also the players others look to for leadership and it is not happening.

It may be a knee jerk reaction to call for heads to roll, but the tabulator is making the calculations. If the Dolphins wish to change the culture of the team, players that are not showing up on Sunday should be looking over their shoulder. Joe Philbin has one chance to make it as an NFL head coach. He has to decide whether a player is in or out every Sunday and the players not showing up will need to be gone if he hopes to succeed.

Dolphin fans are over it, they have watched season after season of being out of contention by the beginning of November and they are not going to continue being disappointed. There will be more and more empty seats and it should be no surprise to Stephen Ross, Joe Philbin, Jeff Ireland or any player on this team...

The Dolphins need a wakeup call because if they spend another game sleep waking, the season will be over and another hunk of the once proud Dolphin fan base will walk away. There is a lot better things to do than watch the most disappointing team in the NFL. It's not worth expending the time, emotion or money on a team that can't bother showing up on Sunday.

If the Dolphins can't show up, I'm certainly not...

Miami Dolphins MIA

I was unable to see today's game. We had a Family picnic near the water's edge where we live. It was a beautiful day at the causeway. I was watching the score on my phone and saw by halftime the Dolphins were down big and Tannehill had thrown an interception that was returned for a TD along with a fumble lost by Reggie Bush.

Near the end of the game 2 people showed up at the causeway. One was wearing a #54 Dolphins jersey and the other had the #77 jersey. They were hanging out having a beer. When I saw them gathering up their things to leave I approached them and asked. Were you at the game today? They said yes and that they had left the game early. I told them I saw the Dolphins didn't play very well today, what happened? One of them said to me, "I'll let you know when the team shows up for the game."

So please tell me what went wrong.

Miami Dolphins vs Tennessee Titans Live Game Chat

Miami must win here if they want to stay in the playoff race.



Where Are the Miami Dolphins at Right Now? [Offensive Edition]

So here we stand at 4-4. The Miami Dolphins are at .500 for the third time this season following a loss to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. A team that most people projected to win five games or less now has the opportunity to win five this Sunday at home against the Titans.

The question now is how good are the Miami Dolphins really, and how will they finish the season?

I think that right now the Dolphins talent-wise are a fringe playoff team. There are a lot of positive signs coming out of Miami, but the Dolphins are still a young group that has not fully developed. They are in no way an elite football team, but they're making progress towards becoming one in the next few years.

Last week's loss to the Colts was disappointing, but that's alright. It's not time to throw in the towel on this year's squad just yet. We are still very much in the playoff hunt in the mediocre AFC, and we look great if you're looking long-term. Through good coaching and solid drafting (you know it's true) Miami is no longer a bottom-feeder, and the arrow is pointing up for them.

What I am going to do now is give a quick breakdown of the Miami Dolphins positional groups on offense. I will look at each group long-term and short-term to get a full understanding of exactly where we stand. I will also do defensive positional groups sometime next week.


Quarterback

Boy does it feel good to not have to worry about finding a franchise quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is, without a doubt, the long-term answer at QB that the Miami Dolphins have been looking for. Tannehill's composure, accuracy, and knowledge of the offense put him far ahead of the learning curve that rookie quarterbacks normally experience. He's obviously still going to make rookie mistakes, which could hurt Miami this year, but even still I think he helps us a lot more than he hurts us in the short-term.


Running Back

Miami is great at running back, too. Reggie Bush has started dancing around a little more than I would like to see recently, but he is still doing a great job and making plays when the ball is in his hands. Daniel Thomas has also been very powerful running the ball. He and rookie Lamar Miller make Miami's long-term options very attractive. I will include fullback Jorvorskie Lane in this category too, who looks awesome. Lane is just a fun player to watch, and his familiarity with Tannehill and OC Mike Sherman make him that much better.


Wide Receiver

This is Miami's biggest offensive weakness. Brian Hartline is a great compliment receiver, but he will never be a true top receiver. The Dolphins offense doesn't need a number one receiver, but they do need someone who will consistently produce at a high level. Davone Bess is also a great compliment receiver, but he's not a true top guy either. This group is manageable for now, but expect Miami to bring in a few receivers through the draft this offseason.


Tight End

The Dolphins are pretty good at tight end. They have one of the best blocking TEs in the NFL in Anthony Fasano, who is also a red zone threat. They have two pass-catching TEs in Charles Clay and Michael Egnew. Clay was disappointing early, but he caught a touchdown last week and looks like he might be turning a corner. Egnew has been a disappointment to Dolphins fans up to this point, but I need to stress the importance of being patient with him. He may have been highlighted (or lowlighted, if you will) on Hard Knocks because of his poor blocking, but we need to give him time. He will come around. It's unrealistic to expect a rookie to come in and contribute immediately.


Offensive Line

I think that I am higher than most people on Miami's offensive line. Sure, Jake Long hasn't played like he did early in his career, and sure, Jonathan Martin has made some mistakes, but I think that the Dolphins line has done a really good job this season. Long, despite his less than elite play, is still a very good left tackle. The issue with him is the amount of money he is being paid and the amount of money he will expect to be paid once his contract is up after this year. Hopefully he won't be expecting more money than his rookie contract, because if he is then I highly doubt he will be in Miami next year.

As for Jonathan Martin. Again, he's a rookie so we need to give him time. I've actually been very impressed with him this far. He's made a few mistakes, but he's been able to hold his own for the most part. He and John Jerry have done a really good job holding up the right side of the offensive line, which has plagued the Dolphins for a while now.

At center the Dolphins have an elite guy in Mike Pouncey, who might be the best center in the NFL. He and Richie Incognito have been great, and I expect them to stay with Miami for a while. Richie is signed with Miami through next season, but I think that unless something bad happens the Dolphins will end up re-signing him.



So there you have it. Those are my thoughts on the offense. Now I want to take a look at what I think the Dolphins will do for the rest of the season. I'm going to post their remaining games with the result that I see happening.

Titans: W
@ Bills: W
Seahawks: W
Patriots: L
@ 49ers: L
Jaguars: W
Bills: W
@ Patriots: L

According to my projections the Dolphins will go 9-7, which should be enough to make them a wild card in the playoffs.

What are your projections? Let me know below.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at paul@dolphinshout.com. I'm on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

Miami Dolphin Veterans Need to Step Up

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. 

Freeney’s 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. 

Anthony Fasano 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 slowing 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 prime 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. 

Sean Smith reverted to the inconsistent player that has infuriated Dolphin fans since he was drafted four years ago. Smith is a gifted athlete, but his mistakes 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 of kryptonite. 

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 coincidence 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. 

The Dolphins 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 challenged relentlessly 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 not the 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 have not 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...

Miami Dolphins Defense Falters as Dolphins Lose 23-20

The Miami Dolphins allowed Colts Rookie QB Andrew Luck to throw for a rookie record 433 passing yards in a 20-23 loss to Indianapolis.

Miami actually had a chance to win late in the game with under two minutes to go, but penalties really hurt them and they turned the ball over on downs. Dolphins punt returner Marcus Thigpen returned the ball to roughly the 50-yard line for Miami's last drive, but a terrible penalty call on Marlon Moore brought it back to inside the 20.

Ryan Tannehill went 22 for 38 with 290 passing yards in a touchdown, but he was overshadowed by Luck's record performance in Indy.

Miami CBs Sean Smith and Nolan Carroll were burned consistently Sunday. Smith specifically hurt Miami, getting beat for Luck's first TD and getting in terrible position to allow Luck's second. Hopefully this is just an aberration and Smith will be fine for the rest of the year, because he looked horrible. It would be nice to get CB Richard Marshall back soon, because we could use some help in our secondary.

The Dolphins also had trouble getting pressure on Luck, who was only sacked once by Cam Wake. It was just a bad game overall for Miami's defense.

Jake Long had an awful game allowing (I believe) multiple sacks. Not what we've come to expect from the 2008 first overall draft pick.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at paul@dolphinshout.com. I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Live Game Chat

Let's see if the Miami Dolphins can move another step closer to a playoff berth.

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The New Miami Dolphin Logo... JOE KNOWS

In Miami, Joe knows

''We're not a super high-scoring offense today as we speak; I think we're going to get better as the year goes on,” said Philbin in his weekly press conference. The Dolphin offense has contributed only five touchdown passes this season, which is last in the NFL. The 3.7 yards per carry ranks 27th and the Dolphins haven’t eclipsed 100 yards rushing since week 3.

These numbers, 22nd in Scoring, 23rd in Total Yards, 23rd in Passing cannot be overcome by being 11th in rushing. The rushing statistic is not due to quality but quantity, Miami ranks 4th in attempts. The Dolphins have been out-gained 825-428 yards in the past two games, almost a 2 to 1 margin.

Joe Knows the Miami defense is ranked 3rd in scoring and rushing, but the same defense is ranked 27th in passing and 22nd in overall yards. The one inspiring number is a league leading 26.4 third down conversion percentage. At -6, Miami’s turnover margin is ranked 24th in the league.

The Dolphins are 4-3 and there is great optimism on the sidelines and in the fan-base, but the numbers seem to indicate it's all smoke and mirrors. Perhaps there is more at play than a grand illusion, consider the following chart courtesy of www.advancednflstats.com.




Joe knows Dolphin fans will zero in on the Miami logo and notice it in the top left quadrant of the graph. The top represents the leaders in average field position yielded by the defense. The right side represents the leaders in average field position on offense. The top right are the teams that perform well on both offense and defense. Notice the teams in the upper right, San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta, then the teams in the upper left, Chicago, Arizona and Miami.

The teams in the upper right quadrant are the best teams in the NFL, because they start on offense from a shorter field and their opponents start on offense from a longer field. The case of Miami, they are consistently forcing teams to take the long way home, while the Dolphin return game is average.


The first thing fans should realize is, Joe Knows! In the words of Philbin, “Our defense is playing well on third down, they're playing well in the red zone, and we've got a pretty good punter.” By compiling the numbers we can begin to clarify the picture of why the Dolphins are winning with what seem to be an abundance of negative stats.

The Miami defense is getting off the field on 3rd down causing the opponents to punt while still in their own territory. They are making teams one dimensional by shutting down the running game, and they are holding teams to field goals, which keeps scores manageable for the growing offense.

But Joe knows it’s the successful chances he has taken on special teams that could be the difference, ''We felt like it was the right thing to do," he said of the chances taken in the kicking game. “But let's face it, there's going to be a time where the other team does a better job executing, and it's not going to work. Then we're going to be careless and too risky.''

But Joe knows he has to take some calculated risks to put his team at an advantage. ''Daring is usually not associated with me,'' Philbin said with a sly smile.

Sorry Joe, we know what the new motto in Miami is…

JOE KNOWS!!!