Monday, November 30, 2015

The offense and Ryan Tannehill

As we get ready to close the book on a very disappointing season, the Miami Dolphins announced today that they have fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. While there were strides made last season, the 2015 products has been nothing short of disastrous. The Dolphins averaged under Lazor in 2014 24.3 points per game (11th in NFL). They were also 17th in passing at 233.1 yards per game and 12th in rushing at 117 yards per game. With tons of optimism coming into this season, the offense has fallen flat. With the team not addressing their offensive line woes, the a Dolphins sputtered to a 1-3 start which led to the firing of Joe Philbin. Dan Cambell hired Al Saunders to assist Lazor with the offense but the offense has continued to fall off, even after putting up 82 points the two games following the bye week. Currently, the offense is ranked 17th in pass yards per game at 244 and 27th in rushing at 91.7 yards per game.

Based on these stats alone, called for all the changes to be made. The rush yards per game being down 26 yards year over year is troublesome. Granted, the Dolphins have been in a hole every game but two this season, has forced more passing and less running. But it seems that the run was abandoned after only a few attempts. For example, the Dolphins had Lamar Miller rush for 20 yards on the opening drive and go for not much there after. They fell down 7-0 and felt the need to pass. With the lack of rushing, the offense has become one dimensional and has allowed opposing defenses to get after the weakest link on the team, the offensive line.

While we can blame the woes to horrible play calling, the franchise QB, Ryan Tannehill also needs to be held accountable. I tweeted a quote from Armando Salguero this morning, showing a quote from Ryan Tannehill regarding the offense. It seems based on this quote, the offense is just going through the motions. There is a possibility, that the team tuned out Bill Lazor. Ryan Tannehill, at times, seem to just shake his head at the putrid protection up front. When Pouncey went down against the Jets, 70% of Jamil Douglas' snaps were at his feet, causing disruption with the timing routes. Receivers also have had no separation. The quick hitting plays are getting read by opposing defenses regularly. There is nothing dynamic about the play calling when opposing teams are stuffing the quick routes and zone read runs. Play calling has been horrible, execution has been worse.

Now we come to the main part of the offense. The quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is signed through 2021 but with team options beginning in 2017. So Tannehill has at least one more year under center, with his fourth OC beginning in 2016 and his third HC. Let's take s look deeper at his stats through week 12:

Ryan Tannehill stats through 12 weeks:

7th in yards passing (2,991)
9th in yards per game (271.9)
T-24th yards per attempt (7.2)
9th in TDs (20)
T-7th INT (11)
8th in 20+ pass plays (41)
T-2nd in 40+ pass plays (13)
4th in sacks (33)
26th in passer rating (88.7)

While we look at these stats and see some progression in his long ball, which have become dimes compared to the severe over throws and under throws we we're accustomed to. The sacks continue to kill this team. Miami is also under 30% on third downs for the season. This can be placed on Tannehill but let's consider the OL play has not helped. Look at the situations for a majority of their third downs. I wish I could tell you what their average third down yardage has been for the season, but they have to average 7-10 yards per third down play. Miami has become one of the more penalized teams and their offense line is dead last again. While we can always blame the QB for the woes, the front office lack of providing even mediocre protection for Tannehill has caused a majority of the problems on offense this year.

Tannehill is our QB, through 2016 at least. But his career will be defined by the front office decisions this off season. What HC will be in place? What system will be run by this HC/OC? What changes will be made to shore up the OL, CB and LB? The team has talent. With Suh, Reshad Jones, Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker(flashed his potential yesterday), the team has some top end talent. They need to get better back ups and better starters at core areas. With five weeks left, more questions than answers continue to be the theme for this team, and we have a long off season to look forward to. It will start with the changes at the top, let's see if Ross really wants a winner.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rants Before Kickoff, Hue Jackson Moves Up

In reality the Dallas game was a microcosm of the Dolphins franchise for as long as I can remember, but not to age myself too much, at least the Joe Philbin/Dan Campbell era. Think about it, playoff implications on the line, coming back home, after a win, playing against a beatable team . . . and the Dolphins self-destruct.  Jay Ajayi gains 18 yards, 1st and 10 on the 28, called back by a Jason Fox holding penalty; 2 plays later Ryan Tannehill throws a pick 6.  Olivier Vernon sacks Tony Romo on 3rd and 8, pinning the Cowboys inside their own 5-yard line, but a ridiculous penalty on corner back Jamar Taylor, gives the Boys an automatic first down.  What ensues, the Fins defense can’t get off the field, and it’s 14-0.  Lamar Miller carried the ball the first two snaps of the game, first one went for 12 yards, the second carry for 9 yards; so Lamar Miller got 5 more carries for the entire game? Inopportune penalties, Ryan Tannehill turnover, defense can’t get off the field especially on 3rd down, abandoning the run – sure this debacle happened last week, but couldn’t that exact description be used for games in 2014 or 2013 or for more than most games over the past 15 years? It is time for a change.

Miami Dolphins New Head Coach Rankings:

1)   Hue Jackson – He moved ahead of Dan Campbell this week because Campbell needs the Dolphins to finish with a winning record to get the permanent gig. This week stories came out that the Front Office and coaching staff disagrees on Ryan Tannehill’s ceiling; this almost paves the way for Jackson.  If he can make Andy Dalton almost seem like a franchise QB, maybe he can work the same magic with RT. Plus I think Jackson could bring Jim Schwartz in as defensive coordinator.  This would be the dream scenario
2)   Dan Campbell – He moves  down a spot. Just like I said last week, if he wins, he stays, if he makes the playoffs he definitely stays. Both prospects are quickly slipping.
3)   Sean Payton – This is a popular name attached to the Dolphins. It checks all the boxes. The media meme with Steve Ross is he will want a big name.  You could easily replace Peyton’s name with Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher.  I don’t like any of them. Please name me the successful Head Coach that took his 2nd team to the Super Bowl after coaching for a decade somewhere else? The Dolphins have been down that road with Jimmy Johnson, it rarely works.  And usually leaves you looking for another Head Coach within 4 years.  Even worse, Payton may cost you draft picks.
4)   Dirk Koetter – He has been able to get the most out of his rookie QB and has resurrected Doug Martin’s career, he should get some sniffs for a Head Coaching gig. His recent comments about analytics will hurt him with teams that are spending more and more on it these days.

Everyone try and enjoy the game. 


Week 12 preview: Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (-4)
Met Life Stadium
Announcers: Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts

At 4-6, the Miami Dolphins face quite possibly their biggest test.  Can they keep their slim playoff hopes alive?  With a win, the Dolphins move back to 5-6 and a tie with the Jets.  More importantly, they will get a win in the conference which may help them down the road.  A loss basically ends the season and the search for a new head coach begins.

How will the Dolphins get a win in a tough environment?  Here are some keys to success:

1) Stop the Run- as most of you are aware, Chris Ivory gashed the Dolphins in week 4.  Miami has had an inability to shed blocks and stuff the run consistently.  To force the issue, look for Miami to put an extra guy in the box.  This also means they need to win their 1 on 1 match ups with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.  It is imperative they get after Ivory to force Fitz to beat them with his arm

2) Sack the QB- Miami has been getting ton of pressures since the bye week but it needs to lead to more sacks.  Vernon has been on a terror and while the Jets OL is banged up with Nick Mangold out, it is up to Suh and Co. to get after Fitz and force him into bad throws and turnovers

3) Is there a page in the playbook for running?- FEED LAMAR MILLER.  He is gashing defenses week after week but yet Lazor abandoned the run.  Miller and Ajayi need to touch the ball 30 times to win this game today.  Will it be the same old same old?  Let's hope not

4) Big plays by Tannehill- RT needs to continue to get the ball down the field to stretch the defense.  With Revis out today with a concussion and Cromartie rated as the worst CB in the league (per PFF), Tannehill needs to exploit some match ups with Landry and more importantly Jordan Cameron. 

5) Get Parker going- Its time to let the lion out its cage.  Parker needs to start getting more reps and the ball thrown in his direction.  He is too dynamic and too big of a playmaker to continue to sit behind Greg Jennings.  Hopefully Parker gets 20-30 snaps today with a few catches.

This game is the season for the Dolphins.  If they didn't give the game away last week to Dallas, this team would be in the hunt and possibly taking over a higher seed with a win.  It is now desperation time and with the results of the season,, this team is not good under pressure.  The road game will be tough and the Jets will continue to gash the D.  However, the loss of Revis will hurt the Jets and Miami will make one more big play to win.

Dolphins 21- Jets 20

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

RUMOR: Fins Headed back to London in 2016

There is a rumor circulating this morning among NFL circles that the Miami Dolphins will once again be headed back to London in 2016 to play a game. This time though the Dolphin's won't be giving up a home game. The rumor is the Miami @ Cincinnati game next year in 2016 will take place over the pond. hasn't been able to confirm this rumor at this time. More on this developing story as we get more information.

UPDATE:: Rumor is not true and Miami won't be going to London. The NFL announced their 2016 London Schedule and Miami is not a part of it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Impressive, But Can They Keep It Going?

The Fins showed some grit last week. Down by 13 early, I like many others,  thought another blowout was on the way. But the young guns came to play. Rookie free agent  linebacker Zach Vigil’s blocked punt ignited the Dolphins, and they were able to squeak out the win. Surprised? Shouldn’t be, the Eagles have a lot of similarities to the Fins. It is the type of team that Miami should beat if they are on their game. But it was still impressive especially when you factor it was their 3rd straight road game.  The wheels could have easily come off the wagon, down by double digits, giving up another embarrassing safety, but they battled back and truly showed me something. It is the type of win that I doubt  Joe Philbin would have been able to coax out of this team but Dan Campbell can.
Before last week’s game I alluded to seeing what the young guys have. We certainly got to see it. Along with Vigils’s big special teams play, RB Jay Ajai galloped for 48 yards on only 6 attempts. Corner back Bobby McCain played 95 out of 96 snaps on defense and DE Chris McCain got a big sack on Sam Bradford that knocked Bradford from the game.  The young guys came to play. Now can they continue it against Dallas?
Today starts the string of “quality” QB’s the Fins are going to face, albeit that Tony Romo is coming off short term IR.  With the Dolphins line backing core banged up and showing zero ability to cover the tight ends when healthy, Romo will certainly be looking for Jason Witten & Gavin Escobar.   Will the Dolphins be able to stuff  running back Darren McFadden and the highly praised Cowboys offensive line?  Miami should be able to score points on offense, keeping the running game in check and controlling the Dallas Tight End’s should be the key to the game. Romo scares me, but I think the Fins win the game 27-17.
A caveat to last week – Do I think Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is still the true front runner for the Miami Dolphins Head Coaching job? Yes and No. Yes I still think he is the front runner, but I do think if Dan Campbell finishes with a winning record it will be hard to replace him.  It will be impossible to replace him if somehow the Fins make the playoffs.  So right now,  while Miami is still in playoff contention Campbell still needs to be looked at as the front runner.  

Miami Dolphins New Head Coach Rankings:

  1) Dan Campbell – He has to be the front runner with a winning record and the Fins still in Playoff contention

2)   Hue Jackson – Tannebaum #1 target.  There will be competition to get him, rumors have it that the Titans are already interested as well.

3)   Urban Meyer – Any Dolphins HC list needs to include a big name, just so the media can continually harp on the meme that Steve Ross will want a big name. But Meyer could make sense, plus it would be a huge bonus for Michigan to get Meyer from Ohio State.

4)   Dirk Koetter – Will not be a popular name amongst Dolfans, but has a relationship with Mike Tannebaum 

Everyone enjoy the game!  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rants Before Kickoff, Waiting For The Hue Jackson Watch To Begin

It has certainly been a roller coaster ride for Dolfans the last 5 weeks. The reality of a once promising season came crashing down but was given life support with the firing of Joe Philbin and the hiring of interim HC Dan Campbell.  Though history was against Campbell’s success, it seemed at first that enthusiasm and competition was enough to breath life back into the 2015 season. But then reality struck, sure Campbell may be enough to get the Fins to beat teams they should, (which was obviously missing against the Jags) however not enough to compete with the better teams. His inexperience in time management has been costly, and the play calling still questionable.  The Miami Dolphins are still the same organization they have been for the last 12+ seasons.  Bad. It’s not easy for me to write this.  I have always put my faith in the organization and supported their moves believing in the process. I’ve been a homer. It hasn’t worked. After watching the whipping by the Bills last week I had to admit several obviously sad things to myself, and Campbell not being the answer is certainly one of them. But that’s not the only one.

The talent level is not there.  The team is not close. (Whew! It feels better to say it out loud.)  General Manager Dennis Hickey has made some good picks, but has still left many areas void of talent.  I am not ready to jump off the DeVante Parker bandwagon, but with Landry, Mathews, and Stills already on the roster, was WR the best pick in round #1? A trade back while obtaining other assets, especially since the Fins were missing there 3rd round pick from the Stills trade would have made more sense. Was Jordan Philips the best selection in round #2 since we had already signed Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell the last 2 off seasons and had plenty of promising youngsters on the roster? Maybe a middle linebacker would have been nice. To go into the season with Louis Delmas as part of any safety solution was ludicrous. Glaring needs at guard and cornerback were essentially ignored or at best were afterthoughts.  But there’s more.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not the answer.  Miami Dolphin fans so wanted him to be. We believed the hype. We convinced ourselves of the improvement because the numbers got better, but the results have not.  He still wilts under pressure. He has a horrible record against AFC East opponents and a losing record overall.  Dolfans need to ask themselves, do they feel confident in Tannehill steering a 4th quarter comeback drive when you need it the most? The answer is no. The Fins should look to cut bait on him and his contract as soon as they can.

So what are Miami Dolphins fans to do for the 2nd half of the season? Hopefully look forward to seeing some of the young guys play and see what we have to build around. Running back Jay Ajayi looks like he might be getting more carries. Philips might be getting more snaps. I like that linebacker Mike Hull was signed off the practice squad, realizing it is a mostly short term/special teams move because Spencer Paysinger did not travel with the team. Though I would not mind seeing him play some middle linebacker. Bobby McCain might be getting more playing time at cornerback. Chris McCain is finally active, lets see what he has. What else?  The Hue Jackson watch begins. I strongly believe Jackson is the front-runner for the job. I believe that is whom Mike Tannebaum wants and whom he will target.  I would not be shocked if the deal gets done while the Bengals are on their bye week during wildcard week.  More on my Hue Jackson belief later, until then get what you can from every game.


Week 10 preview: Miami Dolphins @ Philadelphia Eagles

Miami Dolphins @ Philadelphia Eagles
Kickoff 1:00pm
Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon

After another disappointing AFC East game, the Dolphins try to rebound on the road again.. This time against the Eagles.

Many Dolphins fans, including myself, believed the season was turned around after the bye week. However, that was quickly turned around on back to back divisional losses, for the second time this season. The same issues keep popping up. Poor OL play, lack of establishing the run and lack of stopping opposing teams from running. This weeks match up poses another problem. While Bradford isn't a world beater, the Eagles offense has been clicking. With Murray starting to come around and Ryan Matthews adding an additional punch, it's hard to see Miami winning this game. However, any given week can have one team beating another. Here are the keys to victory for Miami:

1. Run, run and run- the Dolphins find themselves in a hole early most of the season which doesn't allow the ground game to get established. The wrinkles that Miami ran last week against Buffalo need to continue, to keep the Eagles guessing where the ball is going. Adding Ajayi into the line up gives Miami a bruising back with the ability to break a big play. Expect Miami to get both Miller and Ajayi early with runs and passes out of the back field

2. Stop the run- this theme is week in and week out. This game will hinge on Suh and co to force Bradford into third and long. Bradford (10 TD, 10 INT) has been inconsistent. The Eagles recent success is due to a ground and pound offense, picking up big chunks which has been allowing for better play action passes. Miami needs to force Bradford into mistakes to give them a chance, but it starts up front.

3. Air it out- Tannehill has found success in recent weeks in getting the ball down field. With the Eagles secondary giving up big plays, Tannehill and the Receivers need to open up holes for the running game. Landry, Stills and Matthews need to get YAC to keep the Eagles reeling.

4. Protect the QB- the above only works if the OL can give Tannehill time. Sacks have been major drive killers. If they can give Tannehill time to go through progressions, the offense will click as it did versus Houston and Tennessee. The Eagles have a monster in Trent Cole and he will be a headache up front if he gets established early and often in the Phins backfield.

Prediction: while this is a game with similar schemes offensively, the Eagles have been running it better. Until Miami can prove to establish the run and stop it, we, as fans, may be in for another long week

Eagles 24 Dolphins 20


Monday, November 9, 2015

Coaching wish list and possible candidates

The honeymoon is all but over after multiple mistakes by Dan Campbell in Sunday's defeat to the Buffalo Bills. With Campbell's lack of experience, Tannenbaum and co will start doing their search shortly to see who may be available. Here is a list of potential candidates:

1. Urban Meyer (OSU)- his name has been popping up for years and his proven track record and coaching abilities may help this team grow. Albeit a long shot, don't be surprised if a phone call is made to Ohio State requesting to speak with him.

2. Sean Payton (Saints)- there is no secret the turmoil over who is running the show down in New Orleans. With Brees having 30 million against the cap and lack of defense, Payton has an out. The news dropped in recent weeks that he is open to different jobs if he chooses to leave. Miami may be on his short list.

3. Chuck Pagano (Colts)- another coach with turmoil and on a lane duck one year deal, Pagano has ignited the Colts resurgence over the last four years. He didn't receive an extension and he doesn't get along with the front office from what's been reported. He may be available at seasons end.

4. Les Miles (LSU)- yes, history states hiring a coach away from LSU hasn't been ideal, but this guy can coach. He brings passion and enthusiasm to the side lines. As long as he leaves Cam Cameron in LSU, he may be a great hire but may be a long shot as well.

5. Jim Schwartz- here is a very likely candidate to be brought in. His defenses have always been outstanding and he was Suh's coach in Detroit. He would need to bring in a very good OC since his downfall has always been having great defenses and little to no offense in his tenures.

The usual suspects (Gruden and Cowher) will come up when the season ends but don't hinge any bets on either leaving their current jobs. Unless a blank check is handed to either of them, don't get your hopes up. The more realistic possibilities are in the list above, granted a few I listed may be long shots as well. An experienced head coach is needed. The coordinator route since 2007 is over. I put this on Stephen Ross to bring in the best guy for the job, that has coaching experience and a proven track record for results.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Week 9 preview- Dolphins vs Bills

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-2.5)
1:00PM Kickoff at Ralph Wilson Stadium
Announcers: Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots

After a difficult road loss to the Patriots and suffering major injuries to Cameron Wake (done for season) and Ja'Wuan James (4-6 weeks), Miami goes to the not so friendly confines in Buffalo where they have, historically, struggled.  This game poses a serious tests to this teams fortitude as this is a do or die game for the season.  The Dolphins, currently 9th in the wild card standings, 1 game behind Pittsburgh and the New York Jets.  Why this game is important is on tie breakers going the rest of the way.  With tough games coming up against the Eagles and Cowboys, this game is vital to get a victory. 

How will they get there?

- RUN THE FOOTBALL.  They abandoned what got them two consecutive victories, in convincing fashion mind you, real early against the Patriots.  Their identity was lost and the game was lost as well.  They need to get Miller going early and often, and if Jay Ajayi can get some touches since he has been officially activated, he can get those tough yardage carries to help get first downs. 

-Protect Tannehill.  The Bills have been a nuisance to Ryan Tannehill throughout his career and needs to get off to a good start with quick passes and timing routes to get the Bills off balance.  The Patriots, Jaguars, Giants and Bengals have all been successful against their secondary by keeping the QB clean.  This is a top priority and can help.

- Keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket.   He has shown tendencies to get happy feet once pressure hits.  It is up to Suh, Vernon and McCain to get continuous pressure on him but also not allow him to break containment to scramble.  He is deadly with his legs and can hurt Miami if they can get Buffalo in tough third down situations.  Misi may be spying most of the game.

-Stop the Run.  This has been a strength recently but needs to be at its best.  McCoy is a game changer and can really shred a poor tackling team with his cuts.  Miami needs to stay disciplined and square him up to bring him down.

This game is huge for both teams.  It is really going to come down to which defense can get after the QB.  If history continues, it will be the Bills who take advantage of Miami mistakes, which was prominent in their 41-13 thrashing of the Dolphins in week 3.  I unfortunately believe the Bills will win this game, based on Miami's poor history of playing in this stadium.

Bills 21 Miami 17