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Week 10: Bills at Dolphins
MIAMI'S RED ZONE PROBLEMS
A lot has been said about Miami's problems in the red zone. Getting to the Red Zone has been an enjoyable part of the Dolphins game this season as they are one of the best in the NFL in getting there, but when it comes to finishing the deal they are one of the league's worst.
I made a couple of the guys laugh in the chat room Thursday night when I pointed out that Tannehill's fumble inside the red zone cost the Dolphins a Fist Pump opportunity. You have to laugh at the image of Tony Sparano with his trademark fistpump after a field goal. I actually liked Sparano as he was a passionate person. Just think how he would have acted if the Dolphins actually started scoring touchdowns during his time with the Dolphins.
Anyways, back on topic with a Mike Wallace quote following the Bills win:
"Scoring in the red zone isn’t coaches fault. It’s our fault. He’s calling good plays in the red zone. We’ve just got to execute it."
It's kind of like the chicken-and-the-egg argument. Which came first? The Dolphins aren't scoring in the red zone because the players are not executing the plays. Or the Dolphins aren't scoring in the red zone because the coach isn't calling the right plays. Maybe it's a little of both.
I have no doubt that Coach Lazor is calling good plays in the Red Zone. I would think that Coach Philben is not sticking his nose into the playcalling as he does on our last possession in close games (keep in mind that Philben is now 0-2 with his conservative input to Lazor in these situations this year). I have no doubt also that the players are still trying to execute this new offense.
Perhaps it is a talent issue. Do the Dolphins have the talent to get into the end zone consistently when the field gets shorter? Teams love to call the jump ball in the end zone, but the Dolphins have not done this well. I am happy to see that play not called as much as it used to as Tannehill does not have good touch on those type of passes. Also, the Dolphins do not seem to have the receivers who can bring the ball down.
Everyone has their opinions about what the problem is, and the coaches have to get it figured out.
Talk about it here.
SHOULD THE DOLPHINS KICK THE TIRES ON INCOGNITO?
Oy. Now, I understand that the Dolphins have some serious issues along the offensive line, but that would be a real problem. I loved Incognito's work ethic on the field. Unfortunately he has a way of destroying chemistry along the offensive line and it will stick with him ... especially with the Dolphins. That ship has sailed and sank in the Bermuda Triangle.
I don't get the Dolphins infatuation with G/T Dallas Thomas. We keep hearing that he has improved. If that were true then how bad was he last year, because he is a turnstyle no matter the position he has played with us. The Dolphins moved him to RT this week and he started all 69 snaps at the position. He had his worst rating of the year according to Pro Football Focus. I understand that he faced Mario Williams, but is he the best option we have at the RT position? Mario Williams had his best game of the season facing Dallas Thomas. If Mario faced Thomas every game of the season, he'd be in MVP talks.
And, I'd hate to kick our star rookie, but OT JuWa'an James has been steller for us this year ... except for the last two games. Moving to LT has not been a great move for him. I do see him improving, because James is a talented player and he has not played LT since his high school days.
With 10 days until the next game, the Dolphins had better bring someone in and move James back to RT, or keep James at LT and promote someone to RT.
Talk about it here.
DOLPHINS ARE MAKING GREAT HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS
I may have to start skipping the first half of games from here on out. I do not have blood pressure problems except during the first half of games. Now, second half adjustments have been very impressive as the Dolphins have outscored teams 113-41 in the third quarter. Talk about domination.
The obvious attaboys would go to our coordinators as both sides of the ball are making dramatic improvements in their schemes, but let's not forget about HC Joe Philben. His rah-rah halftime speech is getting through to the players and they are coming out very aggresively and confidently.
Talk about it here.
JAMAR TAYLOR MOVES OUT OF THE SUCK ZONE
One of the reasons the Dolphins lost the Lions game was because the Lions went right after Jamar Taylor once Finnegan went down. Due to Taylor's lack of experience, he was smoked. He said this after that game:
“I gave up a pick route and an under route that I hadn’t seen in a game before. I won’t make the same mistake again. But I competed my butt off. I think I played pretty good.”
Taylor made good on his promise to not make the same mistake again. He played a complete game and his name was mentioned several times during the game with some nice stops. He may turn out to be the cornerback that Ireland thought he would be when he drafted him in the second round last year. Due to health issues, he fell to the middle of the second round, and did not play much his rookie season.
OC BILL LAZOR TOO HARD ON SOME VETERANS
NFL.COM's Jeff Darlington wrote earlier this week that there is a rift between some of the Dolphins and our Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson said yesterday that he heard the rumors throughout the season, so, he confirmed the validity in the Darlington report.
What I see are results: the Dolphins 24.9 points of offensive production per game are the best in over 20 years; Ryan Tannehill just completed the fourth game of this season with a 100+ efficiency rating (let that one sink in your brain); without Lazor, Eagles QB Foles production has dropped and he is making a lot of mistakes; aside from Brian Hartline, players are used to the best of their abilities.
There will always be whiners on any team. If they want to be happy then they need to play harder and make a difference.
Talk about it here.
Ryan Tannehill - I'm putting him in the good because he overcame a lot of things to be able to lead the Dolphins to a victory. But his game certainly had some blemishes. Let's talk about what he did well first. Obviously, Tannehill cleaned his game up in the second half, throwing 2 TDs against a defense that has consistently rattled him for two years. He completed a lot of passes, getting rid of the ball quickly and accurately enough to allow his receivers to gain yards after the catch. Despite being sacked 5 times and hit a lot more, he showed resiliency, keeping his composure to come out and compete well in the second half. His stat line is solid, completing 76% of his passes and throwing 2 TDs and no interceptions.
But his pocket awareness was especially bad in this game after showing improvement the past few weeks. Some of the sacks were the fault of the offensive line’s poor pass protection, but some were on Tannehill for not recognizing where pressure was coming. The last Mario Williams sack sticks out as Tannehill had enough room to climb the pocket but didn’t. It was actually good protection by Dallas Thomas, but he gave up the sack because Tannehill didn’t step up. He also had the fumble while running the ball and another curious play on 3rd and 2 where he had plenty of room to run for a first down and instead chucked it deep to Brandon Gibson, who had pushed off the DB and was called for offensive pass interference.
But again, despite these blemishes, Tannehill showed toughness. He’s been a durable player and anyone who can sit there and take 58 sacks and over 100 hits in a season should never have their toughness questioned. The fact that Tannehill had these blemishes in his game and yet was still able to put up the numbers he did speaks to his improvement. That being said, there is still a lot of work for him to do to continue getting better.
Jarvis Landry – Yes, he fumbled on the punt return, but he made up for it with that touchdown. Landry has been a consistent playmaker for the Dolphins, making people miss with the ball in his hands and providing a nice safety blanket for Tannehill.
Lamar Miller – Gained 5.7 yards per carry, which begs the question – why isn’t he being used more? Despite a shoulder injury, Miller ran tough and kept the defense honest.
Brian Hartline – He’s had a quiet season and his days as a Dolphin may be numbered given his productivity versus his contract, but Hartline made some big plays to set up scores in this game, catching two short crossing patterns and turning them into big gains. Hartline has been asked to run a lot of vertical routes this season and has struggled getting open, but the Dolphins may have something here using him running across the field rather than up the field.
Brent Grimes – He held Sammy Watkins to 3 catches for 32 yards. If you recall, Watkins killed the Dolphins in their last match up against the Bills, doing most of his damage against Will Davis. Grimes neutralized that and outside of Chris Hogan, the Bills had no one else who could threaten the Dolphins in the passing game.
Defense – The Miami defense struggled a bit early, giving up too many yards on first down plays and failing to stop the Bills on 6 of 8 third downs in the first half. But they tightened up in the second half and held the Bills to 0-7 on third downs. They also made life miserable for Kyle Orton, who was accurate and decisive early on, but fell apart in the second half thanks to the consistent pressure the Dolphins were able to bring. When it was all said and done, the defense allowed 237 total yards, 54 yards on the ground, allowed 6 of 15 third down conversions, and most importantly, held the Bills to 9 points for the game.
Brandon Fields – He’s had a terrible season, but he put two of his three punts inside the 20 and one of them contributed to the intentional grounding call on Kyle Orton for a safety. It is not about average or net average; it is about placing the ball inside the 20 and forcing the other team to drive the field. Fields contributed to eliminating those hidden yard for the Bills.
My biggest complaint is how ugly the game was, especially in the first half. I expected a low scoring affair, but for a while it looked like we’d have a baseball score. The Dolphins continue to start slow. They are doing a disservice to the fan base by worsening all of our blood pressure.
Offensive Line – Pass protection was awful. There is no other way to put up. Aside from 5 sacks allowed, they also allowed 16 pressures. That means Tannehill was sacked or pressured on 54% of his drop backs. By my count, he was sacked or pressured on 59% of his drop backs against the Lions. Again, these are deplorable protection numbers in back to back games. Granted, it is against two of the best defensive lines in the league and the injury to Brandon Albert hurts. Conversely, the offensive line did a good enough job of run blocking against a stout front that the Dolphins were able to rush for more than 5 yards per carry. This is a difficult situation for the offensive line. There has been so much shuffling it is hard to keep up. So given the circumstances, I am hopeful things will get better, but they need to get better quickly.
Huge win! The Dolphins were finally able to overcome a Bills defense that has given the offense fits. 19 points in the second half is promising, they just need to figure out the first half. It was ugly but they got the job done. Hopefully getting this monkey off their backs catapults them to bigger things.
That being said, the Dolphins fly to Denver to face an elite team next Sunday. This will probably be their most difficult game of the year. The Broncos defense is legit and we do not need to talk about their offense. Let’s hope the Dolphins defense can make it tough for Peyton Manning and the offense can do enough to win.