In Miami, The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round

It’s black Monday, a day when NFL coaches and personnel people are unceremoniously shown the door. After an agonizing loss to the Jets, the disappointment in Miami is at an all-time high. It was not the worst season in Dolphin history, but after teasing of something special, the team faltered badly when in position for a playoff run. The poetic justice of this sad ending is the harsh reality that the Miami Dolphins are not a playoff team. Getting there would have tricked the fans and owner into believing greatness was around the corner.

The blueprint to stopping the Dolphin offense was perfected in Buffalo a week earlier, but has plagued Miami all season. Ryan Tannehill is unable to complete deep passes even when the receiver is wide open. Mike Wallace alluded to 15 TDs left on the field, “There are so many touchdowns me and him missed,” Wallace said. Tannehill is also wildly inconsistent on sideline throws, even simple out routes. By defending the rest of the field, Buffalo played to Tannehill’s weakness. The Jets simply followed the blueprint.

The ploy was so effective, the Dolphin offense scored only one touchdown in its final 25 possessions. The Dolphins crossed midfield once in last week's 19-0 loss at Buffalo and deepest penetration in the second half was to the Jets' 33-yard line in the season finale. The Jets were not taking a great chance leaving Wallace in man coverage and playing soft on the corners, the Miami offense averaged less than 20 points per game anyway. When an embattled make-shift offensive line is expected to open holes and pass protect against an 8-man front unconcerned about wide receivers running wide open deep, it's a recipe for disaster.

Coaches and personnel folks are on the chopping block but the players and particularly the man behind center bear the responsibility for another lost season. "The ball was in our court and we didn't take advantage of our opportunity," Tannehill said. "We didn't finish strong, plain and simple. We didn't finish the way we wanted to, obviously none of us saw this coming." Buffalo saw it coming, the Jets saw it coming.

They saw a QB unable to complete a long pass and so they gave it to him. They loaded up everywhere else, placed the ball in Ryan Tannehill’s hands and said, “Beat us.” Show us you are the man we should fear when the game and the season are on the line, Tannehill was not equal to the challenge. Ryan has an oblivious streak, "We didn't play well these last two games. It was nothing that you could feel or sense in practice. I felt like we had great practices both of the last two weeks. We just came out and didn't play well on Sundays."

The NFL is a quarterback league, Bill Belichick was fired in Cleveland and became a genius when Tom Brady dropped in his lap. The Dolphin coaches have not seen that kind of luck since 1983 and the coaching carousel has revolved since Dan Marino retired. It makes little sense to fire coaches when the QB by his own admission, “just came out and didn't play well on Sundays." Perhaps the personnel man who picked the QB should bear the brunt in the blame game. Perhaps the offensive coordinator should be fired for not teaching the QB how to throw a deep pass.

It doesn’t matter which of these men takes the rap as the ceremonial guinea pig for the players on the field. The fact is, Mike Sherman designed play after play this season that found Mike Wallace running wide open behind the defense. If the ball found Wallace half those 15 times, it would account for 8 more TDs this season. Jeff Ireland’s free agent acquisition would not look so mediocre if he had put up 13 TDs. On a team that lost 4 games by margins of 4 points or less, those 8 TDs cost Joe Philbin a playoff appearance and perhaps his job. Even the OL coach should be safe when considering how much better the running game could be with 8 more deep TDs keeping safeties honest.

It all comes back to the same fact since Marino retired, find a QB or the carousel continues round and round… It makes Boss Ross’s job a little more simplistic. Decide to continue grooming Ryan Tannehill and hope he somehow overcomes his deep passing inaccuracy or make a scapegoat of someone else.

From the 30 thousand foot level, Ross should tell his GM to draft a QB and make a competition of it. Otherwise, when the Dolphins are 8-8 next year with Tannehill, a new coach or GM won’t matter.

The wheels on the bus will continue going, round and round…

Miami Dolphins vs Jets Week 17 Game Chat

It looks like the Chargers should be able to win today. All Miami needs is a win and they should make it in.

Click here to watch the game live online.

Sunday's Miami Dolphin Game is Jeff Ireland's Superbowl

Jet QB Geno Smith summed up the Dolphins - Jets match up this Sunday by saying, "It's pretty much our Super Bowl." His words stretched south to Miami where the game may have as much impact on the Dolphins GM as it does on the New York coaching staff.

The Dolphins have not played past the regular season since 2008. The fan-base has become as fickle as a team that can create a stir with a sensational win against New England one week, only to gag in a devastating loss to Buffalo the next.

In his 2nd season as head coach, Joe Philbin needs to show improvement. It’s doubtful his job is as tenuous as that of Rex Ryan who will close out his 3rd consecutive season out of the playoffs. The Jets are the Dolphin’s greatest rival, a perspective not lost in Miami.

A victory ensures the first winning season for the Dolphins in 5 years. The game is pivotal for Boss Ross and Dolphin fans everywhere. Yet the man who stands to gain or lose the most by the outcome is Jeff Ireland.

The Jets have only one remaining hope for their season as Antonio Cromartie made clear, "This is our last game of the year, and we want to make sure it's their last game, too." Just four weeks ago, the Dolphins crushed the Jets but even then Cromartie felt, "we were the better team."

He feels the same now, "do I feel like we're a better team now? Yeah, we're running the ball better and we're playing the pass a whole lot better. I think the biggest thing for us is to put it all together and win a game on the road."

The Jets can finish .500, and win on the road for only the second time this season, but more importantly, they can knock Miami out of the playoffs. When the Jets search for ways to add meaning to a game without playoff implications, the Dolphins have a much more tangible need to win.

There were plenty of excuses for the Miami offense gaining only 103 yards in Buffalo last week and a listless defense yielding over 200 yards rushing. The bottom line is, Buffalo came to play and Miami did not.

Players play the game, but motivation falls squarely on head coach Joe Philbin, and his coordinators. Three consecutive wins prior to Buffalo found Miami on cruise control with easily winnable games against the Bills and Jets.

All the euphoria disappeared when the Dolphins stumbled badly in Buffalo and a fan-base attuned to disappointment jumped off the bandwagon. Even a victory Sunday could leave Miami out of the playoffs if circumstances fall more advantageously for other teams. The Dolphins lost control of their destiny.

2013 opened with a plethora of draft picks and mega-money for free agents, Jeff Ireland was dispatched to make a contender. The expectation from Boss Ross is higher than 8-8 and no playoffs for 5 straight seasons under Ireland’s reign as GM.
Ross, is the type of owner who comes to town with an open wallet anticipating money will buy results. The Ross mandate is, world class facilities and best in class operations will lead to best in class results, provided the people in charge are best in class. He can buy facilities and operations… The people must prove their competence or suffer the consequences.

Of the free agents Ireland acquired, only Brent Grimes has matched or exceeded expectations. None of Ireland's draft picks have made an impact and the only starter is a 5th round kicker. The 3rd overall pick in the draft played 15 snaps in the devastating defeat in Buffalo.

The Quarterback picked 8th two years ago spent most of the day on his back getting sacked 7 times. While teasing with moments of promise, Tannehill showed zero leadership when needing to be in the face of his lethargic teammates.

Joe Philbin brought a player development philosophy to Miami. Fans ingrained in a culture of instant gratification find it hard to understand why the 3rd player selected in the draft is not in the starting lineup. It is not an understatement to say Jeff Ireland has a lot riding on Sunday’s game.

In simple terms for Ireland, great players get on the field even if they have to throw someone else off to get there. Dion Jordan could evolve into a pro bowl player but for fans hoping to see greatness anywhere in the Miami lineup, he is another Ireland disappointment.

This season comes down to a single game with the outcome decided in the trenches, a place on the Dolphin 2013 roster where Ireland failed miserably. He showed no understanding of the dynamics when drafting an overly sensitive tackle to play next to an overly obnoxious guard.

On the opposite side, an afterthought tackle was thrust on to the field next to a guard mismatched to the system. To say the Miami Dolphin offensive line was a disaster is another incredible understatement.

On the positive side, Ireland has shown a slow progression of plugging holes in a depth chart bereft of talent five years ago. Going into this off-season with a glaring need at offensive line but talent at most other positions is a much easier recipe than building from scratch.

A winning season and a playoff appearance likely equate to job security for the entire Miami staff but falls short of the expectations for many pessimistic fans. In a sport predicated by which team comes into the game with the greatest desire, Ireland could be at the mercy of the team he built.

Geno Smith’s words may be a better fit for Jeff Ireland, "It's pretty much our Super Bowl." The office of the Miami Dolphins billionaire owner is nestled in one of those New York skyscrapers.

They say, “the bigger the boys, the bigger the toys.” In this land where livelihoods are decided by office bragging rights, Jeff Ireland’s future may teeter on whether the Miami Dolphins show up on Sunday.

Boss Ross is a patient man and understands the benefits of long term thinking but this is a toy after all, and if misfit toys are no longer fun to play with, change is a certainty...

If the Dolphins take another day off Sunday, Jeff Ireland could end up being more like Woody and less like Buzz Lightyear.

Dolphins Shut Out by Bills in Disappointing Loss

The Miami Dolphins came into Buffalo following an emotional victory over the New England Patriots last week. All they needed to do to make the playoffs was beat the Bills this week and the Jets next week. Instead, the Dolphins laid a goose egg against a stout Buffalo defense.

The Dolphins barely reached 100 yards on offense (103 total yards) and allowed the Bills to gain close to 400 (390). It was a truly embarrassing performance by a team that has looked so good recently.

Miami's offensive line was bad, allowing seven sacks, one of which resulted in a Ryan Tannehill knee injury. The injury wasn't serious, but we all knew it was a matter of time before Tannehill went down this year. Thankfully he was able to return briefly.

If Miami wants any chance at making the playoffs they need Baltimore to lose to New England, which is looking pretty good right now as I am writing this (the Patriots are winning 17-0).

We'll see what happens. Let's hope that they can fix whatever is wrong this week.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at Follow me on twitter @PaulDSmythe.

RIP Riverdog.

Miami Dolphins at Bills Week 16 Game Chat

This is another big game for the Dolphins. Let's see if they can take another step towards making the playoffs.

Click here to watch the game live.

For Gary

Rest in Peace Riverdog

I'm afraid I have to pass along some terrible news. Gary Cowell, the man many of you knew as Riverdog, passed away this evening. His brother Randy passed along the news to all of us here at the Shout.

Gary was such an amazing guy. He was always there to talk Dolphins, Real Estate, or life in general. I knew that if I wanted to talk I could just give him a call or shoot him an email and he'd be happy to discuss anything. He always had plenty of talk about, and I could count on at least one or two (usually more) funny stories every time I called him.

He was never afraid to share an opinion, and it didn't matter if he was in the minority. He always said what he felt and never held back. That's what I loved so much about Gary. He was a better Dolphins fan than I. He'd been through practically every up and down Miami could put him through, yet he still remained one of the most passionate fans you'll ever find. We were blessed to have him on the site with us.

We all enjoyed his presence here on Dolphin Shout, and this site wouldn't be around right now if not for him. He was the lifeblood of our community. Everything we are today was because of him. He was the glue that held Dolphin Shout together. He made our community. I would have quit a long time ago if it weren't for Gary encouraging me to continue writing. Gary had a pulse on everything that was happening on the site, and I could always count on him if I needed to know what was going on. He was such a fun guy to have around. I owe him so much for his contribution and he will be sorely missed.

To Gary's wife Beth and all of Gary's family, you have my deepest condolences. Gary was a wonderful man and he will always be a part of this site.

Rest in Peace Riverdog

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots Game Chat

Gameday is here. Will the Miami Dolphins be able to beat New England for the first time in almost four years?

Click here to watch the game live.

Our Miami Dolphins Are Relevent Once Again

With all of the Dolphins faults: a draft with barely one player contributing, an offensive line that was previously dysfunctional, running backs that seem clueless from time to time, and a player that threw the Dolphins players and management under the bus and created a turmoil the likes of which I have never seen in all my years of being a Dolphin fan. Through it all they have persevered.

Even though Joe Philbin is about as exciting as watching grass grow, he has this team playing at its best when it counts most. I have no idea how he has done that, nor do I care. I just know that Philbin has his players thinking they can beat anyone they play. If the Patriots come here unprepared they are going to have their asses handed to them (I can't believe I said that!), but that is the feeling that I have at this time.

The Dolphins are bringing excitement back into pro football for all Dolphin fans. The Miami Dolphins are back from the dead. The weekends don't come fast enough. Sunday mornings seems to last a week. For God's sake, stop all the talk and move the kickoff up to 10:00 am.

So tell me Shouters are YOU on board?

Miami Victory in Pittsburgh Opens Playoff Window

The chatter circulating Miami prior to the Dolphins dramatic victory in Pittsburgh was calling for the jobs of Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland. Writers from the local rags and here on Dolphinshout did an abrupt U-Turn after the exciting win placed Miami squarely in the playoff hunt. The Miami Dolphins enter the final three games of the season needing one more victory than the Baltimore Ravens to clinch a wildcard berth.

The heat on the Dolphin brass was cooled by scoring a fourth quarter offensive TD for the first time in eight games and breaking the 27 point barrier for the first time all season. Fashionably, the game came down to a last-second desperation lateral-fest by the Steelers, which came an inch from succeeding before the victory was secured. There was no warming up the weather in Pittsburgh, where the game opened in a driving snowstorm and the conditions remained frigid throughout the day.

Led by a two TD performance from Charles Clay, a highlight reel catch by Brian Hartline and perhaps the best day as a Dolphin by Daniel Thomas, Miami weathered the storm. Clay continued his breakout season by throwing off two tacklers on the way to a game clinching TD and 97 yards receiving. Not even the referees could believe Hartline’s sideline circus catch for a TD until it was verified by instant replay. When Lamar Miller went down with a 1st half concussion, Thomas stepped up in a big way and ran for 105 yards including a 55 yard scamper and a score.

Ryan Tannehill showed maturity in a 3 TD - 1 INT performance, including a 48 yard dash on a seldom used read option play. When Troy Polamalu intercepted an errant throw and gave Pittsburgh the lead with a diving TD leap, it looked like the pick six would KO the Dolphins, but Tannehill was unfazed and calmly led the team to victory.

The Dolphin defense had an uneven day allowing 21 points, but remained stout after a 3rd quarter letdown and enabled a 34 to 28 Miami victory. After allowing only 1 TD by a wide receiver all season, the Dolphin secondary gave up 3 in Pittsburgh. The snowy conditions attributed to much of the secondary issues as the DBs had trouble maintaining footing on the slippery turf.

In all it was an impressive win for the Dolphins and kept their season alive. For Miami fans unused to being relevant in December, it was reason to smile. Through the bullying allegations and bumpy start, Joe Philbin has maintained the locker room and likely secured his job. Calls for Jeff Ireland’s job will continue to subside with each Miami victory.

The Dolphins arrived home to beautiful sunny conditions after weeks of weathering the storm. With New England coming to town, the Dolphins have an opportunity to silence their critics and prove they are a team looking forward to a bright future.

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Game Chat

In order to make the playoffs the Dolphins will probably need to win three of their last four. Let's see how they do against the Steelers today.

The Dolphins Beat the Jets, but DID Lingers

Dissociative identity disorder (DID): a rare mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct or dissociated personality states that alternately control behavior… DID the Miami Dolphins finally overcome the split personality plaguing them all season? DID Ryan Tannehill throw his receivers open, instead of throwing them covered? DID the Miami defense play two halves of great football in a single game? DID the coaching staff make halftime adjustments to counter their own first half tendencies? The Miami Dolphins’ season hinges on the team’s recovery from DID.

Against the Jets, Miami overcame the dreaded DID syndrome and at 6-6 is poised to make a run at the playoffs. The Tale of Two Halves has been the moniker of the Dolphins all season. Squandered first half leads left fans breathless as each game teetered on the outcome of the final play. The Tale of Two Halves DID continue in New York, but by swapping a first half lead and second half collapse, with a first half swoon and second half scoring, the Dolphins found the winning formula to deal with DID. DID they simply mask DID symptoms or DID they truly recover is the question…

In The Tale of Two Halves, throwing cards on the table early may not necessarily trump, and saving wildcards for later is another form of DID. Almost as vague and dissociative as bullying in an NFL locker room, identifying DID is first step in the DID healing process. Now it can safely be confirmed, the Miami Dolphins are not schizophrenic, they are simply misunderstood. Fixing any Identity Disorder begins by recognizing the problem and in the Jets game, Miami DID.

The first step in recovery from DID for the Dolphins, was switching first half momentum for second half scoring. Football games swing on the ebb and flow of momentum as the Jets game DID. As a general rule, the team with momentum at the end of the game usually comes out on top. The question is, DID scoring points equate to momentum? A team suffering from DID knows only too well, momentum without points leads to the depression of DID. Therefore, while closely related, momentum alone cannot win. Scoring points creates or destroys momentum and DID win the game and is the key to DID recovery.

As detailed, complete recovery from DID can only happen when momentum in The Tale of Two Halves is superseded by scoring points. Great coaches rarely make unplanned adjustments at halftime. They implement contingency plans formulated prior to the game based on opponent tendencies recognized in the first half. Scoring after the half as Miami DID in the process of controlling the Jets, DID lead to a Dolphin victory. As clinical studies have shown, scoring in the first half is excellent for momentum, but not scoring in eight straight fourth quarters causes the heartbreak of DID to fester.

The diagnosis is clear, Miami can win out and be a dangerous playoff opponent if the Dolphins can overcome the ill effects of the notorious DID syndrome. With the DID of bullying behind them, the DID of first half momentum and second half lulls in the past, only the DID of not scoring in the fourth quarter remains for the Dolphins to make a full recovery. As defined above, contingency plans created prior to the game for adjusting to opponent tendencies during the game, is the key to changing fourth quarter DID symptoms.

The Dolphins almost DID it during the Jets game, they almost DID it against Carolina, but the complexity of the dreaded DID syndrome is deeply rooted in the psyche. Destroying DID once and for all requires the confidence that comes only by scoring when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. Once a fourth quarter offensive player crosses the goal line, the Dolphins done DID it, they DID in the DID, and DID it with the style of true DID survivors. Beating DID takes doing, and only by defeating DID can the Dolphins can truly say, they DID it.

Sometimes a little humor is the best damn DID medicine of all!