Miami Dolphins vs Bills Week 17 Game Chat

Last game of the season. Find a stream for the game here.

For Adam Gase in the Words of Don Shula

Adam Gase has serious potential as an NFL head coach, but he must learn from his mistakes. Coaching in this league is a tenuous profession where success is fleeting and failure is one poor decision away. There are certain obvious keys to success and most great coaches have field generals that are an extension of themselves.

Don Shula once said, "People you're responsible for are always looking at you. You want to make sure that all the vibes you give off, all the examples you set, are good ones. You want to be living the life you're talking about."

That same vibe happens with the field general, the quarterback of the football team and extends to the players around him. If the field general has an unemotional almost detached vibe on the football field, by extension, the players around him will emulate that vibe.

“The most important thing you can do, is be credible. That's something you always have to weigh, the credibility part."

If coach Gase sees Jay Cutler as the best extension of himself on the field, but Cutler makes critical mistakes, then Gase loses credibility.

It’s a fine line as Shula pointed out, “Too often coaches want to do the popular thing with the players. Sometimes, though, that's not the best thing you can do.”

So how does Adam Gase overcome this contradiction? What’s popular with the players or the fans may not be right, but at the same time, how does a leader recognize when he’s making a mistake.

It’s tough to be a leader, it’s tough to be a man. The toughest thing for a leader to do, is step back and be critical of his own decisions and realize his own mistakes or shortcomings.

Shula said, “The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.”

Adam Gase thought he could turn Jay Cutler into something he is not, a good quarterback. “Luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.”

Shula knew that because he understood winning in the NFL is overwhelmingly predicated by the play at one position, QB. Shula averaged over 10 wins in 33 seasons for three reasons, Unitas, Griese and Marino.

Cutler and Tannehill have won 10 games 3 times in 18 combined seasons.

“The ultimate goal is victory. And if you refuse to work as hard as you possibly can toward that aim, or if you do anything that keeps you from achieving that goal, then you are just cheating yourself.” Well coach Gase, trying to make winners out of losers might qualify as cheating yourself.

There is nothing wrong with confidence, “Leadership implies movement toward something, and convictions provide that direction.” The goal is winning.

Sometimes coaches get caught up in the fantasy of football, where stats become more important than victories. “What coaching is all about, is taking players and analyzing their ability, put them in a position where they can excel within the framework of the team winning.”

The theme that reverberates through all of these Shula quotes is winning and that’s where tangible abilities meet intangible results. A quarterback can throw the ball a hundred miles, run faster, jump higher and even sometimes be smarter than his competitor and still lose, why? Is it innate?

“I have no magic formula. The only way I know to win is through hard work.”

Well even hard work for a player does not always lead to victories because there’s an intangible that comes with the quarterback position. It’s called leadership.

“Lots of leaders want to be popular. I never cared about that. I want to be respected.”

Many pundits point out that football is a team game and a single position cannot determine victory or defeat. It’s absolutely true except for one flaw, leadership…

Leadership on the field… Bob Griese did not throw it a mile, he did not run very fast, he was not very tall. Yet he bought into the concept of "over learning."

That's Shula’s term, “to emphasize how important it is to not only know what your assignment is, but the assignments of everyone around you and why you are being asked to do what you are asked to do.”

Field generals, don’t bumble and fumble around in critical moments because they have "over learned." They can see the situation with clarity because the plays and defenses are second nature from previous study.

Now they can go about the art of winning. These are the qualities of winners and though much of these rantings imply that perhaps winning can be learned, the truth is, the will to win is the most important gift of all.

Gift... A natural ability or talent.

“When you're there, it's not good enough to be there.” The NFL is the pinnacle of tackle football, but getting to the National Football League is not the highest point, winning once you get there is what determines greatness. There’s a peculiar thing about winners, whether it’s ping pong, horse shoes or football, they win.

Adam Gase can teach his offense, he can instill his philosophies, he can “demand perfection and hope for excellence,” but he can’t teach winning. He needs to go find winners and then teach them his
philosophies, that’s the key.

Don Shula had to make those decisions, “deciding at cut-down date what the final roster would be. Everyone would give their opinion, and very often character would enter into whether we kept a guy or not."

So there’s a bottom line to all this drivel, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill have never been winners. Don Shula knew one when he saw one, he filled his teams with them, winners.

Cutler and Tannehill are incredibly talented men, they learn well, they have all the tangibles any coach could ask for. They don’t win, it’s not an indictment on their abilities, it’s not a knock on who they are or a questioning of their character. They both are really good people, they just don’t lead teams to victory more often then they lead them to defeat.

The quarterback position is not about fantasy stats...

Terry Bradshaw threw as many interceptions as he threw touchdowns, but in the end, he won. Adam Gase, please take a peek at history… Great coaches and great QBs together, create winners. Find a winner and mold him, follow the great man’s footsteps.

“If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.”

Merry Christmas Miami Dolphin Shouters

So this is Christmas...
And what have you done...
Another year older...
And a new one just begun...

So Happy Christmas all you Shouters!

Unfortunately, the Miami Dolphins did not have very many gifts for us this season. Losing starting QB Ryan Tannehill started the disaster. Then a hurricane blew in and cancelled opening week at home. The Dolphins subsequently had no bye and didn't play a home game until a quarter of the season had past. When the offensive line coach was caught filming himself snorting a white powdery substance, it was merely icing on a season lost.

Bringing in Jay Cutler as the starting QB set off what seemed like a chain reaction of ill-fated collapses, more like an avalanche...

Perhaps that one decision undermined the entire camaraderie that had made this team so special the previous year.

Pinning this terrible season on one player is foolishly inappropriate and wrong, but it does seem as though the entire team took on the personality of its new QB. In the midst of crazy disaster after strange event, there was nothing to stabilize the ship and when the boat started listing, there was no leader on the field to keep it from sinking.

But this post is for all the faithful Shouters and Dolphin fans everywhere who have endured this ugly this season together.

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families.

We knew losing our starting QB would make this season very difficult. We learned a lot about our coach, who's whispering was not enough to make Good Jay Cutler appear more often than Bad Jay Cutler. We can only hope our coach also learned this lesson about himself when he begins anew with Ryan Tannehill.

We learned there's still a lot of work needed to field a championship caliber defense and it starts at the linebacker position. They couldn't cover anyone and sometimes had trouble even tackling.

So this is Christmas and I get to make some wishes...

Great and wonderful Oz...

Oh wait that's different...

To the Ghost of Christmas Past, I wish for a fresh new Zach Thomas!

To the Ghost of Christmas Present, I wish for the second coming of Keith Jackson, but I'll settle for Mad Dog Mandich!

To the Ghost of Christmas Future, I wish for brand new Larry Little.

So to all of you Shouters,

Merry Christmas and may all your wishes come true.

Miami Dolphins at Chiefs Week 16 Game Chat

Week 16 matchup in Kansas City. Find a stream of the game here.

Jay Cutler in Miami is a Losing Proposition

With “Good Jay” and “Bad Jay” behind center, Miami becomes a team that is really easy to defend. Teams just beg Jay Cutler to beat them and 40% of the time he will, but unfortunately, 60% of the time, he will not. In this business or any business for that matter, losing 60% of the time is bad for the wallet. Miami cannot continue throwing good money at “Bad Jay.”

It all starts with the dynamic of calling plays during an NFL game. It must be one crazy intense way to make a living! There's little time for deliberation with 40 seconds between stop and start. The coach's headset turns off at the 15 second mark, so now it's down to 25 seconds. Players need to get back and the QB needs settle down to hear the play, so realistically there's only about 15 seconds for the coach to call a play… 15 seconds!

With a head coach like Adam Gase calling the plays, there may be other decisions to make during that moment. The folks complaining about Gase going away from Drake after a couple negative plays, when he's averaging 4.9 yards a carry, are not thinking about the 15 seconds...

Plays are not necessarily scripted, but the scenarios likely to happen are game planned. As the coordinator, it would be impossible for Gase to make effective decisions in 15 seconds. He consequently has a list of scenario related plays on that little sheet of his. This cuts down on the time it takes to make a call. When Drake is dropped for a loss, then it's 2nd and long and the sheet has a list of plays designed for 2nd and long situations.

The success rate for 2nd or 3rd and long is not very high... The coach knows after a couple of Drake runs that the defense is sitting on his 1st down run calls. He has to change direction and go away from Drake on 1st down.

That leads us back to "Good Jay - Bad Jay."

Now Gase is going to try a few little dinks and dunks to replace his first down run. If “Good Jay” has shown up, than the offense begins to take advantage of the defense sitting on Drake. The dinky passes loosen up the linebackers and safeties that have come up to support the run. Now the run starts to pop without 9 defenders in the box and all the sudden Drake is loose in the secondary.

When “Bad Jay” shows up, now Gase has lost Drake to the defensive game plan and he can't depend on Cutler to make a couple little throws to create 2nd or 3rd and manageable... Effectively, he is now calling plays for 2nd or 3rd and long and his game plan is thrown out the window.

This is the difference between having a consistently accurate quarterback and one that is hit or miss week to week.

Every defense Miami plays is banking on "Bad Jay" showing up and Gase is hoping "Good Jay" shows up. By taking out Drake and doubling Jarvis Landry, Miami is really easy to beat when Cutler is inaccurate. Every team knows this...

Imagine Bill Belichick's frustration on the sideline! Can't you just see him thinking, "Dammit!!! Why did Good Jay have to show up against us!" Conversely, the Bills are thinking YAY, Bad Jay!

This is why it's hard to fathom why Adam Gase or the Miami front office would even consider bringing back Jay Cutler. History is the only true predictor on the future and Cutler’s legacy is “Good Jay – Bad Jay.”

Any layperson like myself has to respect Jay Cutler for even stepping on that field. This commentary is not about bashing Jay Cutler. It’s about thinking clearly and making correct decisions going forward.

There’s a thought of Jay Cutler spending more time in the off-season and becoming more acclimated with his teammates and the offense.

In finance they call this, “throwing good money after bad.” For Miami's purposes it fits well, if good money could guarantee “Good Jay,” then go for it. The problem is, history says, Miami would be throwing good money at “Bad Jay” 60% of the time. Not a sound decision.

All Adam Gase really has to do is spend some time after the season understanding why his offense was inconsistent. All of the scenarios outlined above should jump out at him.

Gase has a blind side… He believes he can fix QBs like Jay Cutler. Gase thinks he can fix Ryan Tannehill as well, but that is a discussion for another time. This is the blind side, he is overconfident and doesn’t know when he's throwing good money after a bad decision.

This is what defines great leaders, introspection… Understanding your own weaknesses and not being too stubborn to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Keeping Jay Cutler for another season is a mistake. Bringing him in was not under the circumstances, but keeping Jay Cutler next season…

Is throwing good money at “Bad Jay.”

Adam Gase - Please Find Miami a QB

It is incredibly easy single out Jay Cutler in game like Sunday’s debacle in Buffalo. Against the mighty Patriots we got teased, 65.8 completion percentage, 3 TDs, no intercepts, 112 QB rating, Jay has finally found it! YAY!!!

No so fast Miami fans. The moment you peak over the mediocrity that defines Jay Cutler, he snaps you back to reality faster than Cameron Wake blowing by a right tackle. 57.1 completion percentage, 0 TDs, 3 intercepts, 47.5 QB rating, Jay stinks again and against Buffalo, it was one rotten egg…

This guy played in Denver and Chicago, how did he become a South Floridian in 4 months? The cold in Buffalo did not look like the frozen tundra Rich Stadium is known for, but Jay couldn’t even feel his own fingers. They make gloves for that Jay!  Every snap was an adventure, dropped and kicked around like Bozo the Clown. Jay’s feet were mired in big orange cleats, and he booted everything that came near him. Four
dropped snaps...

“I don’t want it, here you take it!”

You’re the quarterback Jay!

We’re supposed to follow the leader, Jay - You!

Let’s just face it, whatever Adam Gase thought he might get out of Jay Cutler was wrong. Wrong Adam, sorry, the whisper doesn’t work! I’ve been good, it’s fourteen games in and I’ve refrained from blasting Cutler, but this game was pathetic. How can he even look his own teammates in the eye?

Buffalo was okay… It seemed like even a mediocre performance might have won that game. Aside from the defense making Tyrod Taylor look like Tom Brady, after making Tom Brady look like Tyrod Taylor... Miami was still in the game.

There’s always discussion about football being a team sport, Jay Cutler does not play defense, yadda, yadda… Obviously there’s something very special about leadership on the field. Against the Patriots, Terrible Smoking Jay was nonexistent, he was confident, accurate and the team jumped on his back and they all played their highlight game of the season.

Fast forward one week and watch the exact opposite, Jay is fumbling around, can’t catch the snap, can’t throw accurately and what happens? The entire team follows the leader…

Okay, it’s a team game, I get it, but doesn’t this show how the leader of the team defines the character. Even on a game by game basis. This Miami season has been the picture of inconsistency. Every game, no one knows which team is going to show up and it comes right back to that leadership position on the field.

The team is pretty much what the QB is. When Jay is really good, Miami is really good. When Jay is mediocre, Miami is mediocre. When Jay is bad, Miami bad. Now when I go back and think about it, it’s same kind of maddening performances we got with Ryan Tannehill just not so pronounced.

Tannehill is a little steadier than Cutler, but he’s still not that consistent rock. Tannehill comes to work every day and we know what to expect out of him, but during the game it’s still a hit or miss proposition.

It’s usually difficult to define such a complex set of human interactions on the play at one position, but not with Cutler. Tannehill is a little harder to capture into a single box, but to say the team goes as the QB goes is actually quite accurate.

Smoking Jay makes the case study easy because he can be so very good one week and so drastically bad the next. There is no team or coach that can survive this kind of inconsistency. Adam Gase will not survive another season if he does not wave bye-bye to Jay Cutler once this miserable thing is over.

Seeing this play out in such prolific fashion of up and down, good and bad, makes it very clear that the QB position is the deciding factor in good, mediocre or bad over the course of a season.

In the case of Ryan Tannehill, it’s mediocre, sorry folks, that’s what it is… In the case of Cutler, it’s bad. The end result make look exactly the same in the win/loss column, but it’s so much worse. A good coach keeps the team 8 & 8, but without a great QB this is it... That's all folks!

When fans like some of those on Dolphinshout, won’t even speak Dolphin football for days on end. It is bad Miami, it’s bad, because these are the true fans.

Those folks filling the stadium these days, some of them are truly die-hard, but many are just being entertained. There’s no real passion coming from them, it’s a social event and social events like social media are very fickle. It’s instant gratification and when you stop providing it, you’re gone...

So listen to this one die-hard who continues to write even when you’ve already lost a lot of true fans, get Jay Cutler the hell out of here ASAP!

Get Cutler out of here, ASAP!

Do not think for one minute a lot changes with Ryan Tannehill. Look at the records, yes Tannehill’s 8 & 8 is easier to take than maddening Jay’s, but it’s still 8 & 8.

If this little case study experiment you did with Jay Cutler has taught you anything, it’s that the team follows the QB more than the coach.

Adam, listen here please, the team follows the QB…

If he’s good they’ll be good, not matter who they are. If he’s mediocre, they’ll be mediocre. If he’s bad, they’re going to be bad. I know you want to think you have a lot more to do with good and bad, but you don’t because you are not out there once the whistle blows.

Adam Gase, once the whistle blows your team is only as good as the guy they are following and it’s the QB. Great coaches are made by great QBs and if you prefer to think about it the other way around that’s fine, but the point is…

If Adam Gase wants to be a great coach, he’s better go find a great quarterback.

Jay Cutler, not so much…

Ryan Tannehill, average…

You’re better than an average coach...

Please go find a great QB and make Miami great again!

Belichick outcoached in Miami Dolphin Victory

Early in the first drive on Monday night, Adam Gase sent Kenyan Drake in motion to the far sideline, just to watch who followed. When a linebacker scurried after Drake, Gase smiled. Belichick did not think Kenyan Drake could beat him. Jay Cutler promptly threw the pass and though it was only an eight yard gain, Adam Gase had his answer, Kenyan Drake… 114 yards rushing and 79 yard receiving, Ajayi who? This is the offense Gase has been trying to run since landing in Miami.

There was a lot of media talk in New England about respecting the Dolphins, yadda yadda… Reality is, eight straight victories does not help the respect factor. Belichick respects one player on the Dolphins offense, Jarvis Landry. Cringe Miami fans, Billy will be the GM Miami is bidding against when Landry goes on the open market next season, but that is a discussion for another time. Gase confirmed that Landry was the weapon Billy Boy would try to take away and it played straight into the game plan. On one Monday night, Gase had outsmarted Belichick and was ready with Kenyon Drake.

Incredibly, Jay Cutler outperformed Tom Brady throwing 25 of 38 passes for 263 yards, three TDs, but it was Drake who stole the show. Kenyan had 193 total yards and Gase used him all over the field, as a back, in the slot, as a wide out, coming in motion. Belichick had his defense all set up to shut down Landry and Gase figured it out almost immediately. Amazingly, Gase was able to sense when Matt Patricia was leaning toward Drake and it led to two Jarvis Landry TDs.

Cutler was spreading the ball all over the field, hitting seven different receivers in the first half. The TD throw and circus catch by Jakeem Grant was a thing of beauty. Grant also had a chance to ice the game in the fourth quarter on a bomb that bounced off his hands. Grant will remember the miss perhaps more than the catch, but when it was all over, he was forgiven! Even much maligned DeVante Parker came away with 4 clutch catches for 40 yards.

All the offensive talk was overshadowed by the aggressive defense that kept Tom Brady running for his life all night. Six hits planted him on his backside along with two sacks. Miami’s Boy named Suh did exactly what he said he would do and pissed
off Brady with a hard sack. As Gase is fond of saying, “Brady could feel Suh” the whole night. The numbers do not reflect the impact Suh and Wake had on Tom Brady and the New England offense, but Brady will remember.

Missing the Gronk, his favorite target, Brady threw some uncharacteristic interceptions to Miami’s new ball hawk, Xavien Howard. Howard had two interceptions while covering Demaryius Thomas last week and two interceptions while covering Brandin Cooks on Monday night. Amazingly, the Miami defense held the Patriots to an unheard of 0 of 11 on third downs. It has been 423 games since 1991 that New England was held without and 3rd down conversion! Astounding defense…

It was a night of redemption for Matt Burke, he called blitzes and stunts from multiple angles, after Miami had shown New England nothing two weeks ago. His defensive backs were able to play tighter coverage mixing zones with man to confound Brady. Assigning Xavien Howard to man-cover Brandin Cooks resulted in two classic picks. Wake, Godchaux, Phillips, McDonald, and Jones, all came from everywhere keeping Brady antsy and guessing. Tom Terrific threw more passes in the dirt than Cutler would have on a bad Smoking Jay evening.

The pressure from the Miami front four came from the middle as Jordan Phillips and the Boy named Suh got to Brady for sacks. Brady was hopping around in the collapsing pocket looking very uncomfortable. Playing with a lead definitely suits the talent of the Miami defense and it shined. The wide nine, easily gashed with a persistent running attack when Miami plays from behind is a monster when this defense plays with a lead.

A season that seemed long gone two weeks ago is somehow back to a sense of relevance. The talk of playing for draft status rings as hollow as the selection of Dion Jordan with the 3rd pick. There is no value in drafting high if a team does not believe it can win. Aside from the quarterback, winning in the NFL is not so much about talent as it is about heart and precision. When a team is smart and plays with passion, there is always a chance for victory. Neither star of this game, Drake or Howard was selected in the 1st round.

If one game can make a season for Miami Dolphin fans, this was that game. Adam Gase finally outsmarted Bill Belichick and the future now looks much brighter in Miami.

Miami Dolphins vs Patriots Week 14 Game Chat

Week 14 is here. Find a stream of the game here.

Miami Dolphins Finally Play with a Lead

Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I...

Dolphin fans must be feeling like a Pink Floyd song… The last time Miami scored more points was over two seasons ago. It’s been 41 games, since Miami won by a larger margin. In 2016, Miami won all those close games that statistically must average out and to expect a repeat in 2017 was probably naive. This season’s previous four victories were by margins of two, six, three and three points. The formula is unsustainable and in hindsight, the five game losing crash was probably predictable.

Perhaps it was Vance Joseph or John Elway, all smug up in his box after yucking it up with Dan Marino before the game, “nanny, nanny poo poo, I won two Super Bowls after blowing it three times!” The mighty have fallen. It’s hard to say Jay Cutler is better than Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian, but it wouldn’t matter because this game was about the Miami defense.

Earlier this season, Adam Gase was roundly criticized for saying something like, “this defense is designed to play with a lead.” After a Cutler to Thomas touchdown followed closely by a Xavien Howard pick six, Miami finally had that lead.

The defense responded, Howard picked off the first two passes of his NFL career and broke up a league-leading five passes. Siemian was sacked by Andre Branch, Jordan Phillips and Bobby McCain and T.J. McDonald added a third pick.

This game highlighted players like Phillips who along with the sack, had two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and deflected a pass that Howard intercepted. Playing with a lead in the second half, the Dolphin defense punished Denver, with three sacks, six tackles for loss, an unheard of 12 passes defensed and hit Siemian six times. For the first time in the franchise’s 52 year history, Miami had two safeties in the same game. The absence of names like Wake and Suh are what make this game unusual.

Denver has now lost eight consecutive games, but maybe there is something to this playing with a lead thing. It ignited Kenyan Drake who set career highs in yards (120) and carries (23). Drake included 42-yard touchdown run all against the fourth ranked run defense in the NFL. There was the usual interception thrown near DeVante Parker, but Kenny Stills busted Denver open with 98 receiving yards, including a touchdown.

Special Teams did not score, but Terrence Fede blocked a punt. After the safeties, Denver was forced to kickoff (punt) from the 25 and Miami enjoyed excellent field position the entire game. Trying and converting an onside kick while up 24 points was a like jabbing a needle into the side of Elway and Joseph. Clearly Adam Gase showed a side Miami fans are not accustomed to, playing with a lead…

An onside kick leading by 24 points could be construed as piling on, but Miami rarely has the cut-throat mentality needed to make a statement in the NFL. The trophy-for-everyone, anthem kneeling millennials will be aghast, while long suffering Miami fans can finally smile at the Belichickian move.

“Designed to play with a lead.” It is a rather presumptuous statement to believe you will be leading prior to actually leading anything. It’s a vague answer to the question, “what is your identity?” Knowing the identity and achieving that identity are two distinctly different things. The game showed that aside from some linebacker issues, this Miami defense can indeed play well with a lead.

The real change in the offense seemed to be a split from the predictable first down “A” gap running plays to a more spread, short passing outside the tackles running game. The talk of taking advantage of a player’s skill was evident in not forcing Kenyan Drake between the tackles on early downs. When Drake did venture inside, it was when the defense was expecting pass or outside runs. The 42-yard burst came on a counter between the tackles. This offense was much better coordinated than any previous game this season.

The onsides kick was a product of the frustration Adam Gase undoubtedly felt coming into this game. It’s hard to conceive Gase was unhappy with Joseph for taking the Denver job, but Joseph does seem in over his head as a first year head coach.

Miami comes into a rematch with New England in a much better place mentally. Belichick saw how Miami played with a lead and he’ll be working on playing outside-in on defense. It is hard for Miami fans not to peak at the end of the season now that the playoffs are all but a dream, but losing is just losing. With a glimpse of what it’s actually like to play with a lead, let next season stay in the future and win now.

The Denver Broncos game showed there is an identity. It lies in an offense that scores points early and often. Couple that with a defense that becomes relentless once an opponent realizes it will have to throw the football. We know now where Adam Gase wants to go, he’s designed this thing to play with a lead. It’s up to the Miami Dolphins to go and get it.

Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I...

Miami Dolphins vs Broncos Week 13 Game Chat

Week 13 against Denver. Click here to find a link to watch the game.