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Kevin Coyle is Back for Another Year?
While those in NFL circles and our media are in the "know" that Miami's defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle, needs to be fired, our head coach Joe Philbin continues to make excuses for him. And, why not? Philbin gets another free pass himself on a mediocre job. "Attitude reflects leadership", and it goes all the way to the top. If the line is drawn at average (and that is what owner Stephen Ross has done by keeping Philbin) then that is what we are going to get.
I don't know what you expected, but I expected Coyle to be fired. We should have known that Philbin was taking way too long on this decision. I expected Ross to at least step in and force Coyle's firing as he did with Mike Sherman last year. Not only was the "playoffs or fired" rumors that Philbin walked into 2014 with, but the status quo is okey-dokey in Miami.
Let's face it: Coyle's defensive scheme just isn't working. The last four games of the season the Dolphins defense allowed 41, 28, 35 and 37 points. Our late season collapse falls on the defense. When Philbin inherited a 3-4 defense, he promptly declared that he was switching to the 4-3 defensive scheme and then hired Coyle to make it work. So, Coyle inherited the 6th best scoring defense in the NFL, and we have watched it go to #7, # 8, and then resting at # 20 last year.
One of my biggest gripes about Coyle is that he does not utilize his players to their maximum. He does not like to use young players and favors less talented veterans over them. Jelani Jenkins has shined but it is because he was forced to play him last year. What a gem he has turned out to be.
This has been a terribly disappointing offseason for Miami Dolphins fans. If it weren't for some of the success that GM Dennis Hickey had last year and the offense scoring more, I don't think I can take another year with Joe Philbin and Kevin Coyle. That is a downer of a thing to say, but I am being very frank with you. If I feel this way then how many other Dolphins fans out there are in the same boat. Surely this is going to hurt Ross in the wallet.
Keep Mike Wallace.
There, I said it. He is under contract and is an important part of our offense. We traded Brandon Marshall because Philbin thought he would be more of a problem than a help for him. Bad move. He had a chemical imbalance that he was addressing, and he's a great talent. We sure could use him. We traded CB Vontae Davis because he was immature and Philbin didn't want to "grow him up". I hated this trade and I felt that Vontae Davis was seriously embarrassed to have this on Hard Knocks. I understand that the trade helped Davis mature, but we all knew the talent that Davis had. We let CB Sean Smith leave via free agency. Well, I am guilty of not being upset about that move. Sean Smith had problems with smaller receivers in that his hips just didn't rotate the way they should. My bad.
Wallace did ask out of the game out of anger, and that will need to be addressed. But, my feelings are that he has a legitimate gripe in that he wasn't getting targeted. How do you have the best deep threat in the NFL and not throw the deep pass? It should be attempted a few times a game ... offensive line problems or not. In the final game, Wallace only had one pass thrown at him in the first half. How does that happen? Everyone knows that he needs to feel a part of the game.
I seriously do not get OC Bill Lazor and WR Ryan Tannehill sometimes. Get him involved in the game or he implodes. It's all part of the game, fellas. Know your personnel and use them to the best of their abilities.
So, Wallace recently said that he would not take a pay cut. I wouldn't expect him to take a pay cut. He came here for the money, and he's not going to do us any favors about it. We knew that when we signed him.
Losing Wallace will hurt this team as he takes away the deep threat. He opens up the passing game underneath.
Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor Gets a B-.
I like Bill Lazor, and I think he did a good job in his first season as an offensive coordinator. In fact, I would go on record to say that I think he will be our next head coach. He is intelligent and he has the personality to be a head coach.
What I did not like about Lazor is that he abandoned the running game too soon in games. I understand that he lost Knowshon Moreno early in the season, so, that changed his mindset to more of a passing offense since Tannehill was our biggest strength, but too often it hurt us in games when we became one dimenstional in the 2nd half of games. Even though the NFL is now a passing league, balance will still win games.
How does Brian Hartline go from a 1000 yard receiver two years in a row to 474 yard receiver last year? It happens when your targets go from 131 to 133 to 63 last year. Lazor failed to get Hartline involved in the offense and you just do not do that to your #2 wide receiver. Obviously the offense was not suited to Hartline's style of play and the offense should have been adjusted to his strengths instead of waiting for him to "get it".
Richard Matthews, a former 7th round pick of ours, went from 67 targets in 2013 to 22 targets in 2014. Obviously he was in Philbin's doghouse last year due to a lack of maturity, but he is another receiver that took a step back in his development.
Now, Tannehill and Lamar Miller both took positive steps forward, but others on the offense did not. I am hopeful that Lazor gets his players more on the same page with Tannehill next year, because with Coyle running the defense for another year, the offense is going to have to carry the friggin' team.
Tannehill Shows Improvement in the Pocket.
Tannehill took a lot of sacks this year, and most of them happened after we lost LT Brandon Albert for the season. In fact, the offense was rolling like a machine at that point. Looking at the stats, it shows that Tannehill is developing pocket awareness. Does he need to improve? Definitely, but credit Bill Lazor for this development due to his improved footwork.
The Miami Herald's Armando Saluero noted this is his blog this week:
Tannehill was pressured on 38.3% of his drop-backs, sixth-most in the league, and took a sack on 18.2 percent of his pressured drop-backs, which was 12th most in the league. If you interpret these stats, it suggests Tannehill successfully avoided sacks more often than not when pressured.
Ed Reed's "You Are Who We Thought You Were" Award goes to ...
The Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.
Surprise, surprise. Despite the additions in free agency and in the draft, this team will always be .500 under Joe Philbin. The Broncos fire a good head coach in John Fox saying that the team did not peak at the end of the season, and we keep Philben who has not had a winning season in all 3 years.
Think about this: the Dolphins were 7-9, 7-9, and 6-10 and fired Tony Sparano. Under Philbin the Dolphins have been 7-9, 8-8, 8-8 with the wheels falling off in each December and Ross keeps him for another season because he likes him? Someone please pinch me and wake me up from this nightmare.
This is the first in a series of articles addressing each unit of the Dolphins, OL, DL, RB etc, strengths, weaknesses, possible solutions and outlooks. Since defensive coordinator is still up in the air, I will avoid DL and LB for the time being, hopefully that gets sorted out soon.
My first article in this series will be on the offensive line, a unit that has been a sore spot for this franchise for several years. Last year saw some signs of hope, also saw some areas of need, solidifying this offensive line should be priority number one this offseason.
Brandon Albert's health is the biggest concern at this position, after his ACL and MCL tears when will he be 100%? Will he be back to start opening day, or will it be a Pouncey like situation, where he sits half the year.
JaWuan James played well for a rookie, especially on the right side. When he moved to the left side after Albert was injured, his transistion wasn't as smooth, still you can see there's a good NFL tackle in the rookie.
This position is a major concern, who are the probable starters? The biggest hope of the current players at this position is rookie Billy Turner, hopefully in his second year he improves enough to earn a spot. Another dwindling hope is Dallas Thomas, but with each passing year it gets less likely, this is probably his last chance here. Journeyman Daryn Colledge is a stop gap at best, he is best used as depth. Shelly Smith is another player best used as depth, this is the problem with this position, we have back up players as our number ones, that has got to change.
Pouncey back in his spot is a good thing for the Dolphins, he is a high level center, this position is a strong point.
Depth here is suspect at best, it's not really worth getting into, except to mention that it needs to get better. You don't expect back up players to perform like starters but the drop off with this unit was ugly.
There are some good pieces and some potential pieces that could start to mould into a real line, a healthy Albert, James, Pouncey are a real good start, the ends and center. If Billy Turner improves well enough to earn a guard spot that would leave one guard spot to fill.
That brings me to the draft, this will probably be a very unpopular opinion, but I feel we should spend four picks on offensive lineman. My thought is, enough is enough already, starting guard is a mess right now, depth is bottom rung. Dedicate a draft to fixing this problem, while you have these three players, build a solid cohesive unit so that we can actually get a real good evaluation of Ryan Tannehill.
A 2nd round guard sounds about right, you can pick up a top guard in the 2nd round, that pick could possibly solidify the offensive line for years to come. I would then draft two more lineman in rounds 3-5, a guard and a tackle, and another tackle in the 6-7th. Fix the line and make sure it's fixed, it all starts in the trenches.