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Week 10: Bills at Dolphins
Two weeks ago Miami was at 2-3 and the forum was full of doom and gloom. The Angel of Death had apparently descended once again and all hope was lost. Now, 2 weeks, and more importantly, two wins later they're at 4-3 and the forum is alive with playoff posts. This possibility or that possibility are lighting up the threads I'm guilty. It is hard not to be. I've been a fan since 1971. I pictured Miami going to one superbowl after another when Marino dominated the NFL in 1984. It wasn't to be. Miami has never returned to the Superbowl. Miami did, however, make the playoffs and play in some exciting playoff games during the 1990s and even as late as the early 2000s won a playoff game. They've been back once since then and that was an early exodus. In between there is mostly average teams. They been bad enough to grab the number 1 overall pick once, but never good enough to make the playoffs more than once. We've had some teases...last year's back to back losses to make sure they failed again is probably fresh on most people's minds. Could this be the year? Just like the kid who is waiting for that special gift at Christmas, every year brings hope. Dare we take a peek? Let's look at it.
There are only 3 teams with losing records left on the entire schedule. That is 9 games with 6 playoff contenders standing between Miami and its first post season birth in 6 years. Here's what we know: Miami will be competitive in those 6 games. Just like the Greenbay game it will get decided in the 4th quarter in most cases. The only must-wins right now as I see them are Buffalo, San Diego and/or Baltimore. @NE and @Denver are games they'll likely lose although we know the NE game will be a dog fight. Oddly enough, Miamiusually plays well against Manning too so that should be interesting. What I dislike about the odds of the Denver Game is their defense against Miami's offense. They have a legit pass rush and Miami has struggled against teams with a good pass rush. What Miami can't afford is a loss to the Jets (twice) or the Vikings. They have to win those games. If they lose just one, it becomes near mission impossible. 10-6 is almost guaranteed a spot. 9-7 and you'll need the tie-breakers to get in. Miami sits at 4-3. Let's assume they take care of business against the Jets and Vikes. That leaves them at 7-3. That means they have to find a way to win 3 of the other 6 games against playoff contenders. San Diego is up this week. The importance of this game for both teams can't be understated.
The final piece to this puzzle is which Dolphins Offense shows up. The defense has been fairly consistent every week. The offense's only consistent aspect is its ability to be inconsistent. They were terrible against the Jags. Just when we thought they were putting together a string of games ... Raiders, Greenbay and Chicago...they come out and play their worst game of the season against the Jags. Let's hope that was the one game. They're entering the teeth of their schedule and can ill afford a hiccup.
What a weird game. We win by two touchdowns, but there isn't really much "good" to say.
Pick Sixes - Nice to see the Dolphins defense score touchdowns. The interceptions returned for touchdowns by Louis Delmas and Brent Grimes decided the game. It is rare to see the Dolphins get a pick 6 in a game. Against the Jaguars, they got two.
Running Game - the Dolphins gained 148 yards on 24 carries (6.2 ypc). It might have helped early on to use the running game more. The Dolphins kept passing in the first half and most of those passes were of the 5 or 7 step drop variety. Not a good idea against a that is 3rd in sacks. Lamar Miller and Ryan Tannehill both had 30 yard runs.
Deep Ball - Tannehill finally hit Wallace deep on a perfectly thrown 50 yard bomb. Wallace was well covered on the play but becauuse Tannehill placed the ball where only Wallace could make a play, Wallace made the play, getting his knee down. After that, the Jacksonville defense softened up.
Brian Hartline - the disappearing act continues for Hartline, who only had 1 catch on 4 targets and he dropped two of those.
Run Defense - the defense let Denard Robinson gain 108 yards on 18 carries and the Jaguars had 178 yards on the ground.
Pass Protection - Tannehill was sacked 3 times, and those were not coverage sacks as the pressure was coming before he was getting to the top of his drops. The offensive line has given up 7 sacks the past two games.
Offense - the offense had a rough day, from poor pass protection to dropped passes and missed throws. There is enough blame to go around on this one. The defense scored more points than the offense.
Trap Game - no matter how much this was talked about as a trap game, the Dolphins still fell into the trap.
The Dolphins are now over .500 and have won two in a row. And yet this win leaves more questions than answers. Questions about the coaching staff, Tannehill and the offense and how this team is going to do in the next couple of games, when the level of competition increases significantly.
Hopefully this was just the quintessential trap game and the Dolphins will be better prepared for San Diego.