Sunday, October 26, 2014

Things I Liked, Things I Didn't, Things To Look For Against The Jaguars

What a difference 1 game makes in the NFL. The Dolphins went from questionable timeouts and inept coaching to the talk of the NFL.  The Fins had a great game plan against the Bears and a couple things stood out.
Things I Liked: 
  • Ryan Tannehill. I don't know what was said at halftime of the Packers game, but since then Ryan has been on fire. Over the past 6 quarters Tannehill is 37/47 for 437 yards, 4 TD's and 0 interceptions. That's completing over 78%! He also has 7 rushes for 88 yards and a TD. Did something finally click? I don't know, but those are numbers, as Dolfans, we dreamed about when Tannehill was drafted.
  • Cameron Wake still a beast! 
  • Dion Sims constantly shows up on tape. Next to Jelani Jenkins he may be the most improved player from last year. He had key blocks on both Lamar Miller's touchdown run and the touchdown pass to Mike Wallace.  Plus he had the Fins longest reception on Sunday - 26 yards. If he continues to progress, the Fins could easily have one of the best TE tandems in the NFL. 
  • The haters wont say anything, but Mike Wallace is quietly performing  up to his contract. 5 TD receptions in 6 games.
  • The coaching staff deserves some kudos. I feared the Dolphins would come out flat (again) especially after a demoralizing loss, but they didn't. Joe Philbin going for it on 4th down. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor called a great game. The defense kept Jay Cutler on his heels and the big Chicago receivers were easily handled by the Fins secondary. 
The Dolphins played well, but they were far from perfect.
Things I Didn't Like:
  • Can't start the game going 3 and out. Especially can't start the game by giving up a sack on the first play.
  • Too many penalties. A Brian Hartline penalty killed a drive right before halftime. A Charles Clay penalty took points off the board. (Hartline was penalized on the same play as well.) 
  • Mike Pouncey is still getting used to playing right guard.
  • Bad challenge by Philbin. Lamar Miller was clearly down, it was a waste of a challenge and a timeout.
  • Still have no faith in Caleb Sturgis.
  • What's up with Brandon Fields?
  • It was a dominating victory, but it was too close at the end. The Dolphins should have put 40 points. 
I hate to say it, but this is the type of game that the fins usually lose.  They are playing a less talented team, on the road after a big win. A recipe for disaster.
Things to Look For Against The Jaguars:
  • Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles has already thrown 10 picks in 5 games. Look for at least 2 against the Fins.
  • The Jags lost starting linebacker Paul Poluszny last week. Look for the running game to work for both Lamar Miller and Ryan Tannehill. And look for some big pass plays to be set up by the run option and play action pass. 
  • I expect Brian Hartline to get in the endzone this week.
  • Jaguars offensive weapon Denard Robinson had a breakout game at running back last week. I am not as worried about him running as much as a safety valve out of the backfield for Bortles. The Dolphins need to be aware of him at all times when he is on the field.
  • The Jags defense is tough and the team is better than their record, look for them to come out fired up early.
Like I said, this is historically (recent history) the type of game the Fins lose. But Dolfans travel well, and Jacksonville may seem like a home game. I think the offense keeps clicking and the defense is the best that Blake Bortles has faced, Miami should win this one easily. Prediction: Dolphins 41 Jaguars 13. Everyone enjoy the game.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kudos to Dennis Hickey

I needed to see one thing during the Bears-Dolphins game this past week to help sum up one of the greater points I don't think is being discussed enough when talking about the 2014 Miami Dolphins. Brandon Marshall can't bring in the 4th down pass in the end zone, and ends up pushing Cortland Finnegan, and immediately, Chris McCain came to the defense of his teammate. My respect for McCain instantly went up in a major way. He didn't care that he was face to face with 6'4, 230 lb Brandon Marshall. His concern was that no one was about to push one of his teammates.

Louis Delmas. Cortland Finnegan. Jarvis Landry. Billy Turner. Chris McCain. Earl Mitchell. Jordan Tripp

Looking at these acquisitions, it is easy to see that they have one common trait among them, toughness. An attitude. Not 'fake guy' toughness like we saw with Richie Incognito either. Toughness that will rear its head when the situation calls for it. All of these guys had one reason or another why they were overlooked, why they were available. All thrive with having a chip on their shoulder. The impact they have cannot be overlooked. This team badly needed a culture change, a shift in identity. A move away from finesse guys like Michael Egnew, Chris Clemons, Jonathan Martin.

The Landry pick is one that Jeff Ireland wouldn't have made if he had 10 drafts to select him. Not fast enough. Ireland focused on "not being able to find guys with this speed on the street" as we heard referring to Les Brown. It is how we had Clyde Gates. Too much of a focus on timed speed, finding solace in numbers that could be measured on a stopwatch.

Hickey had an unenviable task of having to sink significant resources into re-building an entire offensive line, while still trying to generate a shift in the overall philosophy of this team. No more of the Jonathan Martin type personalities. Whether you feel that Joe Philbin deserves to return next year, I think that the fingerprints of success that Hickey has imprinted on this roster are easily seen, and I for one hope that given another offseason to continue to add players who fit this mold, that he can find more of these kinds of guys who help make the Miami Dolphins a team that opponents know will be a bear to play for 60 minutes on a weekly basis.

I think this chip on the shoulder is also the kind of thing that shows up this week vs Jacksonville, Past Dolphins teams would have played down to the competition. I think this team loves the fight, understands the grind, and has an eye towards the end goal, not only getting to the playoffs, but getting there and making some noise. I don't think that any of the aforementioned acquisitions will allow for this team to play down to its competition. I hope that the way I see it is the way that it continues to prove itself to be.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dolphins vs Bears PREVIEW

Crossroads game for the Dolphins this week. The Fins at 2-3 must travel to Chicago and a loss here and the Dolphins playoff hopes begin to slip away. It's going to take a 10-6 record to either win the AFC East or get a Wild Card spot, and having 4 losses by mid-October would be as close to a death nail as you can get. Especially with road games vs Denver and New England still on the schedule as well as a home game with San Diego. Oh, let's not also forget 3 more games with the Jets and Bills who seem to have Miami's number in recent years. Being at 2-4 is not good, so this weeks game is important.

WHEN MIAMI HAS THE BALL: The Bears have a very talented offense so how to you beat them; keep that offense on the sideline. Miami must take a ball control approach this week and run the football successfully. It will be Miller Time this week and the Fins should give Miller 20+ carries. And when not running Miller the Dolphins should use a short passing game to also stay in "ball control" mode. I know everyone is dying to see Wallace catch a deep long pass but this isn't the week to be forcing that play. It's about winning the time of possession battle, protecting the football, and keeping Cutler and company on the sideline.Also I think this is the week Charles Clay finally breaks out and makes a big play or two. He has done nothing all season and I think if Miami designs a play or two for him it could be successful. The key as always when it comes to the Dolphins is the offensive line. While you can point the finger at a lot of things for last weeks loss to the Packers it was the poor offensive line play that really lost the game. Don't believe me, go re-watch that game and you will see every o-linemen get beat on a consistent basis and the Fins final drive was an utter failure because of the o-line play alone. The offensive line must play better for Miami to stay competitive this week let alone have a shot at winning.

WHEN CHICAGO HAS THE BALL: This team is a match-up nightmare for Miami. Jeffrey, Marshall, and Bennett are big tall pass catchers and Miami's secondary is short and small. Finnegan is the only CB with any size and well, he has been poor this year. He might not even play this week due to injuries as well. So, when you are over-matched in the secondary how to you counter-act that....get pressure on the QB. Don't give him time and don't give the WR's time to get deep and get open. Kevin Coyle should be blitzing early and often this week. Blitz every play and don't stop blitzing. Matt Forte has been a beast at times this year for the Bears and the Dolphins will have their hands full with him.

PREDICTION: This game will swing the Dolphins season. They win and they are still alive in the AFC East and for an AFC Playoff birth. They lose and well it looks like another 7 or 8 win season and this will be Joe Philbin's last year in Miami and a new Head Coach and GM could be on the way. The blueprint for a Miami win is simple, I laid it out above. Executing it will be much more difficult. I think if Miami was playing almost any other team this week they would bounce back and most likely win. I just think the Bears are a match-up nightmare for the Dolphins at the end of the day. CHICAGO 31  MIAMI 21 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Moreno Done For The Year

Running back Knowshon Moreno was placed on injured reserve by the Dolphins today, ending his likely brief stay with the team. Moreno tore his ACL in Sunday's game against the Packers.

I just don't see it.

The Miami Dolphins coaching staff is taking some hits for this loss - and rightly so; Wheeler one-on-one with the tight end and the game on the line against A-Aron Rogers? No way.

So how important is coaching? Let's take Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals for example. When Bruce Arians took over the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 they were coming off an 5-11 season; they were last in total offense, 28th in passing and last in rushing.

In 2013, Arians first year, the Cardinals went 10-6 (missed playoffs) in the NFC West, arguably the toughest division in football. They finished 12th in total yards and 13th in passing. Granted they acquired Carson Palmer from the Raiders in the off season but Palmer's career 86.1 passer rating is pretty average (Tannehill currently at 79.5 career passer rating). Today the Cardinals are at the top of their division at 4-1. Oh by the way, Drew Stanton was at quarterback for 3 out of 5 of those games. Drew mutha-bleepin Stanton.

Conversely, Philbin took over the Dolphins in 2011 after the Sparano/Bowles era; the team was 22 in total offense, 23rd in passing and 11th in rushing. In Philbin's first year with the team they were 27th in total offense, 26th in passing and 17th in rushing. Last year the Dolphins finished 27th in total offense, 20th in passing and 26th in rushing. Philbin also inherited a historically and statistically better defense than the Arizona Cardinals.

Today the Dolphins are third place in the AFC East at 2-3 with 5 of their next 7 games on the road.

Progression or regression?

Joe Philbin is not an NFL head coach in my opinion. He may be a great person, organizer, coordinator or Larry Coker look alike but he is not a head coach. It doesn't take this long to get a franchise turned around. Not with this talent. This was the year. Year three. I just don't see it.


Monday, October 13, 2014

More Questionable Decisions by Philbin

Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers was another one of those games filled with head scratching decisions by head coach Joe Philbin. Without rehashing them all, I think the biggest blunder he made was his time out on the Packers winning drive on 4th and 10. Personally, I think that call cost Miami the game.

Why that call? Well, on 3rd and 9, the defense stripped Aaron Rodgers of the ball on a sack. The Packers recovered for a 1 yard loss. The defense was on it's game. The Packers were on their heels. It was 4th and 10, about 1:30 left, the clock was running and Green Bay had no time outs. They had no choice but to try to regroup and run a play on 4th and 10. But wait! Here comes an early Christmas present courtesy of Joe Philbin!

Now you've given one of the best QB's in the NFL a chance to regroup. A chance to take a breather and talk to his coaches about what they want to do. More time to set up the play. The defense was on fire but now you've cooled them down a bit. I've read others opinion on this and some don't think it was a bad time out, but I do. My opinion is the pressure is all on Green Bay. After a sack, fumble and loss of a yard, you MAKE them run a play. You LET the defense pin their ears back and get after him again. They didn't need a rest or a Kodak moment or whatever Philbin wants to call it.

You might not agree with my opinion of that situation and that's ok. I'm sure we can all agree there were many other questionable decisions by Philbin yesterday. One thing is becoming clearer and clearer and that is that Joe Philbin is not a very good NFL head coach.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Things I Liked, Things I Didn't, Things To Look For Against The Packers

It seems like an eternity since Joe Philbin wouldn't name Ryan Tannehill as the starting QB. I don't know if it was Philbin lighting a fire under Tannehill or the benefit of playing the Oakland Raiders, but the team looked good. As always there were a couple things that stood out.
Things I Liked:
  • Great blocking by the offensive line. Not only did they keep Tannehill clean, but the opened up gaping holes for Lamar Miller. Saw lots of second level blocks on those big runs.
  • Tannehill really did have a great game. He answered the criticism the best way possible. 23/31 278 yards, 2 TD's, 1 int. 14 straight completions. A huge plus is that he gained 35 yards on 5 carries. That ability to run will pose problems for defenses and it is something the fans have been screaming about for years. 
  • Good to see Joe Philbin had faith in his offense to go for it on 4th and inches inside the 10. He could have easily settled for 3 points instead Lamar Miller scored his 1st touchdown of the day on the 4th down run.
  • No penalties in the first half.
  • Chunk plays. 
  • Finally some interceptions on defense! Congrats to Brent Grimes, Jimmy Wilson and Walt Aikens getting the pick party started.
  • Daniel Thomas making the most of his second chance.
Things I Didn't Like:
  • Team came out flat to start the game. This has been a problem all year. The Raiders came out and drove it down Miami's throat. By the way, the Raiders had not scored on their opening drive since November of last year. 
  • Will Davis is not getting better, he seems to be getting worse. He gave up some big gains to the Raiders, including getting beaten for a late score. 
  • It's tough to turn the ball over 3 times and still win, let alone win big. Lamar Miller can not fumble at the 1 yard line EVER! 
  • Dolphins play was still sloppy at times.  A Dion Sims penalty nullified a Daniel Thomas touchdown. Plus the Fins fumbled the ball 2 other times but were fortunate enough to recover
It was a good game for Miami. Their quarterback answered the bell, the defense played well, and special teams play was adequate (minus the Landry fumble). But it was the Raiders. And even though they were a trendy pick by many experts, it was still the Raiders. The sloppy play and missed opportunities will not work against the Packers.
Things To Look For Against The Packers:
  • Green Bay is a league worse against the run. They are giving up 163 yards a game. Running backs are averaging 4.6 yards a carry. Dolphins are 5th in the league in rushing. Averaging 142.3 yards a game. Miami backs are averaging 5 yards a carry. The Fins game plan should be to run, run and run some more. Keep that hot Packers offense off the field.
  • Speaking about HOT. It is going to be 87 degrees, but feel much warmer come game time. A punishing running game, plus that heat/humidity can work to Miami's advantage.
  • Look for the run to set up the pass, and the play action to work for some big gains. And for Tannehill to pull it in a run on some read options. 
  • The dolphins front 4 on defense need to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers or it could be a long day. With Derrick Shelby suspended, someone else is going to need to step up. Chris McCain? Terrence Fede? 
This is a tough one. The way the Packers have been playing, you would think they would be the easy choice. But I feel the Fins match up well against the Pack. They definitely cannot come out flat or it could be 21-0 in a hurry. I think the Fins surprise some people control Rodgers, control the clock and win going away. Prediction: Dolphins 34 Packers 23. Everyone enjoy the game. Go Dolphins!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Derrick Shelby Arrested

Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting Dolphins DE Derrick Shelby was arrested Saturday night. Shelby was charged with tresspassing and resisting an officer. In the mug-shot Shelby's face was bloody and bruised.

Here is the booking information on Shelby's arrest  CLICK HERE

Update: Andy Slater of 940-AM radio in South Florida is reporting Shelby caused a disturbance at a club and refused to leave.That was the reason for his arrest.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Raiders suck. But the Dolphins are number 1 in the AFC East

After a tumultuous week from the quarterback controversy that never was, the Dolphins got a nice win on Sunday. But lets be honest. The Raiders suck. 

Tannehill put up good numbers, 23 for 31 with 278 yards and 2 TDs. But lets be honest. The Raiders suck. 

Philip Wheeler knows it. He spent a year in Oakland in 2012 and had this to say after the game, "To me, I don't feel like we need to be too happy about this." 

I'm not trying to diminish the win here but Oakland is a historically bad team with a rookie quarterback and as of yesterday no head coach. They are dead last in total offense and in rushing, and are third last in touchdowns. I mean just look at the way they let Derek Carr hobble off the field after he injured his knee. 

Dion Sims had a great catch in the endzone for a touchdown so we'll give him a pass (no pun intended) for his drops; I think he had one or two. Brandon Gibson keeps dropping the ball as well. 

Lamar Miller has stepped up and is playing great ball. He's number six in the NFL in total yards and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. But he fumbles. He has two so far and both fumbles have been lost to the other team; one cost the team a touchdown last week.

Jarvis Landry is cutting his teeth on special teams back there but he needs to hold on to the ball and make better decisions when receiving a punt or a kick. The Raiders got some lucky bounces but it needs to be corrected. It could be the difference in the game. 

All that being said the Dolphins are in a three way tie for first place in the AFC East. After New England's shockingly bad performance on Monday night against the Chiefs, fans are thinking the Dolphins are the team to beat in the division. But I'm here to say that they need to show me that same performance against the Packers, Bears and more consistently overall. 

The opportunity to take control of the division is there. The Patriots have the Bengals, at Bills, Jets, Bears, and Broncos all before their bye (3 home games in a row).

 Dolphins get Pouncey, Jones and Misi after theirs.