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Week 10: Bills at Dolphins
Yes. It is too early. We have to endure the growing pains associated with a new offense. It has been terrible. It has been okay. It has been absolutely terrific...all in the same game. Therein lies the rub: the only complete game was against the Raiders. However the offense was brilliant in the 2nd half against both the Patriots and Packers. So what gives? Well there is a ton of speculation as always with a team that is sub .500 teams. The obvious problem is they're running out of time to fix it. There is 11 games remaining but to be in the playoffs...they'll need to win 8 of them. That is a tall order...maybe too tall. So let me throw my 2 cents into the problems as I see them.
As always, problems usually start at the top. Philbin is a nice guy. ... too nice a guy. He seems to let his team run around his back to the media and vent their frustrations. Most coaches reel this stuf in because like a festering sore, it only serves to further aggravate the problem. We're still less than a year removed from the Ritchie-Martin fiasco that blew this team up late in the year. Philbin's weak leadership allowed that siutation to happen. You might hear of a Patriots Player complaining ... but then you find them traded the following week. I remember when Josh McDaniels was the coach in Denver. He allowed Brandon Marshall and a few other malcontents to blow up that team. That ended up working well for Denver in the long run but short term it was a loud announcement to everyone that McDaniels had lost the team. Philbin is past the point of losing his team in this author's opinion. My personal opinion is he will not last the season. I sincerely hope I'm wrong and the team makes a dramatic turnaround.
Ryan Tannehill remains a question although to me it is clear he has all the physical tools. He is a talented guy who still needs some time to figure out how to do things better. For a mobile QB, he takes way too many sacks. He also stil makes some annoying misreads on plays that he should have down by now. His deep game...is non-existant. That is all the bad stuff. For the good, he is super accurate on anything midrange and below. He has a quick delivery and a strong arm that threads the needle. When he gets into a rhythm, he maks you forget about all the bad things because it really is that goood. He had 3 9+ play drives in the 2nd half against Greenbay that all ended in TD. He put Miami 7 points up with 5 minutes left to play. While his final drive was less than memorable the coaches share the blame in that by not doing what usually wins games like that... running the football.
Kevin Coyle was my least favorite coach and I was beyond irritated when they hung on to him. If we rewind last season, he got most of the FA talent. He got 3 of the 4 top draft picks including the 3rd overall. He fields, quite possibly, one of the most talented groups on paper in the NFL. Yet it is also one of the most under-achieving gropus in the NFL. Just take the Greenbay game for an example. This unit should be dominant. When the offense sat them on the bench in the 2nd half and built a 7 point lead they should've came out and shutdown Greenbay. They didn't. As a matter of fact, they gave up 10 points in the final 5 minutes. It is the story of his defense. They can't hold a lead. If you were just to look at the stats, they look top tier. But this defense in the hands of a guy like Rex Ryan would be top 2. it would dominate the opposition. Coyles defenses fail way too often in crunch time. Go back to KC. Miami had just pulled within striking range when the defense gave up another score. You can make every defense in the world about a lousy offense putting them in a bad position... but good defenses don't need excuses. They win games by temselves in many cases. I can't remember many, if any, games Coyle's defense simply won by itself.
The special teams are really bad. Rizzi has done a terrible job with this unit. It is a big reason why this team can't win games. Even stalwarts like Brandon Fields is struggling. While it is difficult to say this is all the coaches fault, it did begin to fall apart when he became the coach.
I'm usually painfully realistic. It is just in my nature. Any team can catch fire and turn it around. We witnessed that with 3 years ago when they finished the year 6-3. However, it usually comes on the heels of a big change. If Miami wins this weekend, they'll return to .500 and revive hope. If they lose, it will most certainly damage any hopes of a post season birth beyond repair. You can't understate the difference between 3-3 and 2-4. There just isnt' a way to sugar coat it. Win. That's it... win. If not, then it might be time to fire Philbin and start looking at alternatives.
2nd half Tannehill - At one point, Tannehill was 10 for 10. He had 2 touchdowns in the 2nd half as well as a 40 yard run. He lead the Dolphins offense to 3 touchdown drives in the 2nd half.
Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon were beasts off the edge, each getting 1.5 sacks on Aaron Rodgers. Vernon also had two tackles for a loss. The Dolphins front 7 also kept the Packers running game to 3.6 yards per carry. It is a shame that the Packers put up 27 points. A lot of that had to do with a defense that was winded because they spent more than 37 minutes of game time on the field. They got no help from their offense in the first half and were exhausted when the game was on the line.
Jarvis Landry had his break out game with 6 catches for 75 yards and 1 TD. Landry also had 91 yards on two kick returns, including a long of 54. Landry looked faster than his 4.7 40 time at the Combine.
Mike Wallace continues to put together a solid season, with 5 catches for 67 yards and 1 TD. Wallace did have a drop that could have turned into a huge play, maybe even a touchdown, late in the game. But he had his share of good plays and continues to run with a purpose after the catch.
1st half Tannehill - Threw two interceptions. On one pass, he locked into Jarvis Landry and the Green Bay corner read his eyes to pick off the pass. On the second one, he threw deep to Brian Hartline against double coverage in what appeared to be a predetermined throw. However, those interceptions only led to 3 Packers points.
Clock management at the end of the game was beyond questionable. You have a tired, depleted Packers defense and you can't run the ball? Instead, you go for pass plays in which incompletions stop the clock and leave time on the board for Aaron Rodgers. At one point, if the Dolphins had run the ball three straight times, they would have run so much time off the clock that the Packers would not have a de facto timeout in the form of the two minute warning. Instead, the Dolphins passed and failed. The Packers got the ball back with 2:04 on the clock and their first play was a run up the middle by James Starks against a defense geared to stop the pass. The Packers could afford to run such a play despite not having any timeouts because of the two minute warning. In such a close game that was decided with 3 seconds left on the clock, this was a huge mistake. On top of that, the Dolphins called a timeout with 1:07 left on the clock while the clock was running. The reason was because they didn't feel they had the right personnel on the field. But why give Aaron Rodgers a free timeout? The Packers got a first down anyway and had more time on the clock than they should have had. Again, the game was won with 3 seconds left on the clock.
The Dolphins cannot get all three units playing well at the same time. The defense had a dominant performance until late in the game, but got no help from the offense in the first half. The offense put up 3 touchdowns in the 2nd half but by then the defense was gassed. Special teams played well all day until the last Dolphins punt of the day, which was returned to midfield due to poor tackling.
The Dolphins are 2-3 and falling behind in the race for the AFC East. They continue to be an inconsistent team and it all starts with questionable coaching. I realize we'd be singing a different tune if not for Aaron Rodgers throwing a game winning touchdown, but at the end of the day, the loss was on poor clock management and playcalling at the end of the game.