Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bring It On Baltimore

The Dolphins are hot....they at red hot! The six game winning streak is nice but the Dolphins need to make it a seven game winning streak. The six game winning streak has put the Fins in the thick of the playoff hunt but there are still a lot of non-believers out there. They are in the mix and have a legit shot at a wild card birth, but now its time to take it to the next level.

Through the six game winning streak Jay Ajayi was responsible for some of the wins, Ryan Tannehill was responsible for some of the wins, Kiko Alonso brought home a win; it's been someone different and stepping up each week to carry this team. This week vs the Ravens though the Dolphins will need a total team effort to win this game on the road in a hostile environment.

Baltimore isn't a great team but they are solid all around and above average in every aspect of the game. Even with Joe Flacco having a down year (and yes he is having a down year) he is still Joe Flacco who has a Super Bowl championship on his resume and he can turn it on any given week and play like a superstar. The Ravens run the ball well and their run defense is #1 in the league. All around a solid team who will be tough to beat in their building.

The Dolphins right now must, and I can't say this enough, they must get their offensive line healthy. If the Dolphins are down Tunsil, Albert, and Pouncey they can't win this game. If two of those three guys sit out, they can't win this game. At best Miami can afford to have one of those three sit and still field a competent offensive line. The story of this game starts and ends with the Dolphins offensive line. If the Fins offensive line is healthy and able, this will be a nail bitter and go down to the wire. If the Fins offensive line is injured, well then Baltimore is going to eat our lunch and take our milk money and bully us all over the field come Sunday.

Ryan Tannehill will also need to continue his amazing play of late this week. Tannehill has done a great job of shutting up all the haters out there and his many critics. Right now he is on what I like to call, "The Ryan Tannehill FU Middle Finger Tour."

Next Stop On The Tour
Week by week Ryan is going out and playing some outstanding football shutting up his critics and doubters to the point where many of them have become speechless and have gone into hiding or have accepted the fact they were wrong and are now eating crow and are 100% believers in Tannehill. For Miami to beat Baltimore in Baltimore they will need another great game from Tannehill. I'm not sure the Fins will be able to run with much success this week vs the #1 run defense so it will come down to Tannehill and the pass catchers to carry the team this week.

On defense it's simple; get after Flacco and put him on his keister! The Dolphins defensive line is thin right now; another week with no Jason Jones and now Leon Orr was cut. Earl Mitchell also missed practice today with an injury so its slim pickings. For the Fins to win they need to get after Flacco and not let him sit in the pocket and pick us apart.

Big picture what does this game mean? It means everything! The AFC Wild Card race is going to come down to the end of the season and will have many tiebreakers. Miami must win this game vs a team they might end up being tied with. They must win this game vs a conference opponent. Last but not least they must win this game to keep the pressure on Kansas City and Denver.

Miami most likely needs to win 3 of their last 5 games to make the playoffs and with road games vs Buffalo and New York (I don't care what their record is those are tough spots to win on the road in December) every game is crucial. A win here would not only be a huge step in making the playoffs it would be a huge step in sending a big message to the rest of the NFL that the Dolphins are for real and the Dolphins are back!

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Film Study: Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers, Week 12

The 6-4 Miami Dolphins hosted the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers at HARD ROCK STADIUM, Miami Gardens, Florida. The following is my reaction to the game after watching the game live Sunday and then re-watching it in its entirety Tuesday morning. If you are not interested in reliving the game then please scroll through to just the individual film studies and the closing thoughts section. This is my weekly Film Study for DolphinsTalk.com, go them follow on twitter and @TomLikeFootball if you want to hear more from me.

Narrative throughout the week
The majority of the narratives throughout the week did not focus at all on the San Francisco 49ers and what they could potentially bring. Most were too busy looking back at last weeks win over the Rams and ahead to Miami’s schedule after the 49ers. The Dolphins entered the game 6-4 after winning 5 in a row and many appeared to be simply chalking up the W at home to the 49ers and getting ready to play Baltimore in Week 13. It is incredibly difficult to win 5 games in a row and even more so 6 in the NFL. Yes, this is an extremely talent poor San Francisco football team, however, it has a Quarterback in Colin Kaepernick whose ability and arm strength can cause teams problems. Of course this is a different Kaepernick to the one who set the NFL ablaze in December 2012 and January 2013, but his ability as a dual threat QB remains and despite not posing the risk of beating Miami by running the score up through the air; he posed a danger of extending drives and moving the chains by evading blitzers and making teams pay with his legs.

N.B. Dolphins have given up an average of 14.8 rushing QB yards a game this year.

Another big narrative this week was injuries (yet again), particularly to the Offensive Line (yet again). Miami was forced to start last week without Pro-Bowl LT Branden Albert and Pro-Bowl Center Mike Pouncey. However, they finished the game without 1st round pick and rookie LG/ LT Laremy Tunsil. The Dolphins O-Line struggled massively last week and when it became apparent Sunday morning that Tunsil would not suit up vs. San Francisco I’m sure many were nervous. The 49ers are talent poor, as previous stated, but missing your starting LT, LG and C would hurt any team no matter who you are facing. 

Another narrative that was particularly prevalent in the South Florida area was an exchange between 49ers starting QB Colin Kaepernick and Miami Herald writer Armando Salguero. The argument earlier in the week centred around Kaepernick’s wearing of a shirt that featured Fidel Castro, who then died Sunday morning. The argument got a lot of traction in South Florida as it raised a controversial topic amongst Miami natives (many of whom have Cuban ancestry). It made Kaepernick a hated figure in Miami and the fans certainly let him know it from the moment he entered the stadium. The 1-9 49ers, who have one of the leagues worst Defenses (worst run D) and an abysmal offense couldn’t possibly give the Dolphins problems? Or could they?    

P.S. Remember when some Dolphins fans last season wanted the team to sign Chip Kelly as Head Coach?

Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers, Week 12

The first play of the game for Miami was a play that I spoke at length about last week. It is a play that Adam Gase loves calling early as its an easy check down completion guaranteed to gain the Dolphins anywhere from 3 yards to a first down. As I spoke about last week: it is a simple play action pass to a motioning TE who runs to the flat for an easy completion. It helps build confidence early and generates rhythm on Offense. The Dolphins ended up punting on their opening possession and surrendered a TD on the 49ers opening drive on Offense (first time surrendering a TD on the opening drive since week 2 @ Patriots)The TD drive for the 49ers saw an excruciating amount of read-options, play actions and inside runs, which kept the Dolphins Front Seven guessing. The 49ers showed a lot of Offense on their opening drive and it was a sign of what was to come, a long day against an Offense that played above their 1-9 record. San Francisco’s TD came on a 2nd & 10 where Kiko Alonso was late picking up the RB Hyde out of the backfield and resulted in Miami going down 7-0 early in the game.

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The Dolphins punted again on their second offensive possession and the infuriating screen game was back from last week. Tannehill threw a quick screen to Damien Williams on 3rd & 15 and had no chance of picking up a 1st down. The Dolphins did take a shot on 1st down earlier in this drive as Tannehill threw what was at best a 50:50 jump ball up to DeVante Parker, clearly showing the QB and Head Coaches faith in the young playmaker. I tweeted earlier in the week that this 49ers Defense was vulnerable to the big play and that the ‘Fins would look to get Parker going early. Unfortunately Parker could not bring the ball in for a big chunk play but it demonstrated Miami’s confidence.

The Dolphins and 49ers then exchanged punts and Bobby McCain had an impressive drive for Miami as he had a beautiful pass break up to prevent a first down. Jakeem Grant again fumbled the football on a return and while I do not want to kill the young guy, this is starting to become a habit. I question this because we have Jarvis Landry for fair catches but we also have Kenyan Drake who is equally as explosive and electric as Grant but has not had an issue fumbling this season. Maybe I am being too harsh, but it is certainly starting to become a worrying trend. The Dolphins again looked to Parker and hooked up with him for a huge 46 yard pick up on 3rd & 7. The Dolphins went for the throat with the next play as they dialled up a deep shot down the sideline to Stills off of play action (unsuccessful). Ryan Tannehill then connected with Jarvis Landry for 17 yards, Stills for 14 yards and an 11 yard TD pass to Parker was overturned. The Dolphins TD came on a run from the same formation that was successful @ Chargers and vs. Steelers but this time with a different play call. The 49ers were clearly expecting the FB run as they crashed the middle, however, Adam Gase changed the play call and put a TE on the outside to help seal the edge for Ajayi 1-on-1 (see below).

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The 49ers infuriating picked up another 1st down from a Kaepernick run on 3rd down where the Dolphins were not spying. 49ers TE Celek then fumbled the football as Maxwell and Rambo managed to rip the ball free. Damien Williams finally saw action at FB on a 3rd & 1 and took the ball 7 yards to keep the drive alive. Ryan Tannehill then reminded fans that he is just as athletic as Kaepernick as he picked up a 17 yard run on a read-option keeper (He now has the most rushing yards of any Dolphins Quarterback in the franchises history). The Dolphins capped this drive with a TD pass to TE Dion Sims, which was on the money from Tannehill. Sims proved that he can be more than just a great run blocking TE and his size makes him a mismatch on smaller DBs and slower LBs. Bacarri Rambo is a player who the Dolphins like and he has seen his snap count increase every week since Reshad Jones went to IR. Rambo had a solid game and got a crucial pass break up on 3rd & 9 to stop the 49ers making a drive just before half time. The Dolphins then surrendered a sack just before half time as the 49ers brought numbers, but Tannehill could not find a favourable match up to release the ball early.

HT: 14-7 Miami

The 49ers very first play out of HT was a play action pass, which CB Tony Lippett broke on and was picked off by Kiko Alonso as it flew up in the air. The Dolphins then settled for a 24-yard Field Goal from the great field position putting them up 17-7. Dolphins’ special teams played great all game and the 49ers started the ensuing drive on their own 9-yard line, as Andrew Franks routinely landed the ball either 1-yard deep in the end zone or on the 49ers 1-yard line. The Dolphins gave up a 91-yard TD drive, capped by a Garrett Celek TD catch as LB Neville Hewitt simply lost him in coverage. The Dolphins responded with help from their Special Teams as Kenyan Drake took the ball 1 yard deep out of the End Zone and went 77 yards leaving the Dolphins already in Field Goal range. However, the Dolphins ran their 3rd Read Option of the day resulting in Tannehill being hit hard for the 3rd time, before a near INT and sack on 3rd down put them out of FG range.

The Dolphins Defense responded forcing the ‘9ers to go 3 and out before Miami’s Offense started rolling again and resulted in a 38 yard Kenny Stills TD grab. This drive featured a 10 yard run for Tannehill to pick up the 1st down as he looked certain to be sacked and the TD throw was right in the window for Stills and away from the DB who took a bad angle to the ball and allowed Stills to scamper into the end zone.

THE DOLPHINS LOVE THE DOUBLE A-GAP BLITZ. Not sure how many times a week I write this in my notebook, but Defensive Co-Ordinator Vance Joseph loves dialling up this old gem and he used it repeatedly on 3rd down again vs. San Francisco. See below two Linebackers lined up either side of the Centre.

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This time the Dolphins got a sack from Cam Wake as both Linebackers who were in the A Gap peeled off confusing the protection and coverage. The Dolphins then got a TD from rookie WR Leonte Carroo as the ‘Fins went 5 wide. The play is broken down below but let me just say this once again on here: KENNY STILLS is an EXCELLENT RUN BLOCKER. Carroo had the acceleration to beat the defender who broke on him in coverage while Stills blocked superbly down field.

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Although Byron Maxwell has played well this season, it would not be a Dolphins game if we didn’t get one pass interference call on the Cornerback. The Dolphins surrendered a TD and gave up consecutive big plays of 16 and 35 yards before an 8 yard throw left the ‘Niners on Miami’s 1. Despite a great run stuff on 1st down the Dolphins gave up a TD to Torrey Smith as CB Tony Lippett was caught flat footed in zone coverage and was late on his exchange with Maxwell in coverage allowing Smith to make a beautiful 1 hand grab to put the 49ers worrying at 31-21 with 7:42 still to play. Miami had a costly 3 and out which featured another Tannehill read option, which for the third consecutive time failed to produce more than 3 yards. The Dolphins also threw the ball twice killing the clock. The Dolphins then got a sack on 2nd & 10 as they started bringing 5 regularly to cut off any escape lanes for Kaepernick. Andre Branch came up with a big sack. 4th & 15 I DO NOT LIKE THE CALL. 

Below I have broke down what I hate about this call. I am of the mindset that if it is an obvious passing situation, why risk a liability in coverage like Cam Wake rather than having your 4 best pass rushers out there who can get home quickly and will force the QB into an early throw when routes might not have developed yet? Tweet @ me what you think but the 49ers ended up converting this 4th and long.

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The 49ers would eventually settle for a FG making this a 7 point game as Miami got the ball back with 2:11 to go. The Dolphins then went run, overthrown pass, run before punting the ball. The ‘Niners had the ball on their own 38 yard line with 1:44 to go and 1 Time Out.
My notes for this last past of the game are barely readable as I took my frustration out on the pen and paper. The Dolphins somehow allowed the 49ers to convert a set of downs where they were 2nd & 25, 3rd & 21 before Bobby McCain was beat in coverage on 4th & 11. The 49ers got the ball to Miami’s 6 yard line after CB Byron Maxwell was slow adjusting his hips and allowed 49ers WR Herley to make a foot tapping 18 yard catch down the side-lines. Byron Maxwell redeemed himself by breaking on a slant on 1st down as Kaepernick saw an opening and tried to thread a ball through a window to send the game to OT. The final play is broken down below and I want to commend Suh and Alonso for showing great hustle on this play, however, coverage did break down in the back of the end zone and against a better QB … the Dolphins may have surrendered a TD here.

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Closing Thoughts

It was closer than many expected and infuriating at times (Kaepernick ended up with 113 rushing yards), but a win is a win. Miami has now won 6 in a row and sits in the final wild-card play off spot at 7-4. When Miami first went on this winning streak it was due to the emergence of Jay Ajayi and that carried them for three weeks. But now this Dolphins team is relying on QB Ryan Tannehill who is winning games through the air. Ryan Tannehill was tremendous today despite his box score not doing his performance justice. Tannehill put this team on his back with his excellent movement in the pocket and delivering timely balls on a dime to keep the Offense moving and putting points up on the board.
Miami’s Defense is playing bend but don’t break and their D-Line has been great the past six games. Whether its Wake, Suh, Branch, Phillips or Mitchell, all have been disruptive and most importantly productive. Kiko Alonso is looking like a bargain in the trade Miami made with the Eagles. He had another INT today to go along with 12 tackles… He now has 91 on the season! The secondary has been worrying at times but I like the development of Isa Abdul-Quddus at Safety and I believe he could be a great fit opposite Reshad Jones going forward.

Miami is now 7-4 and has played a string of teams who many around the League consider to be ‘below average teams.’ But the point still remains; it is incredibly difficult to win SIX games in a row in the NFL. The only team hotter than the Dolphins right now is the Cowboys and if Miami wants to make the play offs it is going to have to win a majority of its remaining games. The schedule looks tough: @Baltimore (excellent Defense), vs. Cardinals (underperforming but talented roster), @Jets (always difficult), @Bills (again difficult) and vs. New England… But Adam Gase has changed the culture around this franchise and is finding a way to get the most out of his young play makers on Offense each week). The Dolphins have big play threats in DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills alongside explosive playmakers in RB Jay Ajayi (who has taken a back seat the past few weeks but has opened up so much for Miami through the air as teams load the box) and Jarvis Landry. This Dolphins Defense will not lose the team games, but the Offense needs to sustain drives to keep the pass rushers fresh. If the Defense plays with the lead it can pin back its ears and be productive. These are exciting times for the Dolphins and their fans.

Can I start the #FinsPlayoffPush or is it too early? On to Baltimore. 

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Monday, November 28, 2016

DolphinsTalk.com Podcast for November 28th, 2016

The Boys are back with another edition of the DolphinsTalk.com Podcast as they breakdown the Dolphins thrilling victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Randy also talks about his team at the team facility and stadium all weekend at "Web Weekend 2016" as well. And of course they end the show with a preview of Miami's next game vs the Baltimore Ravens.

Make sure you Like, Subscribe, and download the podcast. And visit DolphinsTalk.com every day for the latest Miami Dolphins news. 

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Web Weekend 2016

Every year the Miami Dolphins host "Web Weekend" where they invite all of us who run and work on various Miami Dolphins blogs and websites like this to come visit the training facility and stadium for a weekend filled of events and meet and greets. They treat us all like kings for 3 days and give us fans the experience of a lifetime.

This year DolphinsTalk.com Podcast host Randy Savage represented our website at the event and he and his friend Jean took a bunch of pictures they would like to share with everyone. Click on the link below to scroll through some of the pictures for this weekends festivities. We at DolphinsTalk.com would like to thank the Miami Dolphins organization and everyone involved with putting Web Weekend together. We had a blast and are looking forward to next year's event.  (Special thanks to @kri8edfilms for the pictures)

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

DolphinsTalk.com Podcast Host Randy Savage





Six Wins in a Row

Another Sunday and another last minute victory for the Dolphins. This one came in a much different way though. Instead of the Fins needing a last minute score and the offense to make a big play, this week it was the defense that had to come up big late with a big stop.

Ryan Tannehill carried this team to a victory today with three touchdown passes and spectacular play. Coach Gase and Tannehill said in the post game press conference that they both felt disrespected that SF was loading the box and daring Miami to pass the ball. So, pass the ball they did and boy did SF get burned. Tannehill was on point with all of his passes today and Devante Parker, Kenny Stills, Dion Sims, and Jarvis Landry made big play after big play.

Behind a make shaft offensive line Tannehill had one of his better games of the season. Jay Ajayi got his yards on the ground to keep SF honest but today was all about Tannehill on offense.

On defense the unit played well for 3 quarters but in the 4th quarter they let San Francisco back into the game as the unit was wearing down. With no Jason Jones and Mario Williams leaving the game with an illness the defensive line had zero depth and was exhausted. The secondary was playing soft and let SF dink and dunk up the field to get some easy scores. When it came to the big money play though late in the 4th quarter Suh and Kiko showed up with the big stop.

With six wins in a row the Dolphins are right in the middle of the wild card hunt in the AFC. Today was also the last of the so called "easy" games on the Dolphins schedule this year. The remaining five opponents are above average teams no matter what their record is. Next week's game in Baltimore vs the Ravens is as tough as it gets. The Ravens hold the #1 rush defense and Miami is down their three best offensive linemen. It will be as tough a test as this team has the rest of the way.

To put where we are at in perspective for some of you younger or newer Dolphins fans; with the exception of the 2008 playoff game vs the Ravens, next weeks game vs Baltimore at 1pm is the biggest game this franchise has had sine 2000. The Dolphins will be in December in the middle of a wild card hunt playing a meaningful game vs another playoff worthy opponent.  Sure a couple years back in Joe Philbin's early years the Fins had some games where if they won and got some help they would have sneaked into the playoffs, but those felt fluky and the team was never a threat to actually do anything in the playoffs. This year is different...VERY DIFFERENT.


Miami's game vs Baltimore next week is a statement game on many levels. For one a win puts the league on notice that Miami is legit as they went into Baltimore in December and beat a quality organization who has had a lot of success in recent years. Second, it will further prove this team is for real in 2016 and a legit playoff team this year who can beat good teams home and away. Last but not least it will further continue the culture change that is on-going with the Dolphins organization these days.  You change the culture of an organization by winning games, you take it to the next level by winning big games on the road. Next week is a big game on the road and in all honesty as big as they get.

Next week is a statement game and the biggest Dolphins game in my opinion since 2000. Time to step it up a notch next week and bring the "A" game vs the Ravens.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Game Preview: 49ers @ Miami Dolphins


San Francisco 49ers @ Miami Dolphins (-7.5)
Hard Rock Stadium
Kickoff 1pm

Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis and Chris Spielman

After a long, grueling 2 weeks on the west coast, the Miami Dolphins return home for a long awaited home game.  Two amazing comeback victories from Ryan Tannehill and the defense on this west coast trip has South Florida buzzing!  Ripping of five consecutive victories, the Dolphins look to continue their winning ways against the lowly, 1-9 49ers.

Although this game has victory written all over it, one cannot overlook another football team, any given week.  The 49ers have a very good young tailback in Carlos Hyde and a dual threat QB in Colin Kaepernick.  Head coach Chip Kelly believes in a fast paced offense and if successful, could cause the Dolphins defense to tire out early in the South Florida heat.  Here are the keys to victory for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday:

1.  Banged up OL-  we are already aware we will not see Mike Pouncey and Branden Albert.  Laremy Tunsil is a game time decision with a shoulder injury.  If Tunsil cannot go, the OL will be Sam Young at LT, Kraig Urbick and LG, Anthony Steen at C, Jermon Bushrod at RG and Ja'Wuan James at RT.  This make shift OL will be the key to victory.  They need to keep a banged up Tannehill upright and make running lanes for Jay Ajayi.  Which leads me to:

2.  Feed the Jay Train-  I expect a MONSTER game from Ajayi.  In his previous 3 home games, he has rushed for roughly 500 yards.  The 49ers boast the leagues worst rush defenses at almost 175 yards per game.  If the Dolphins want to win this game, building a lead early and chewing up time with Ajayi, Williams and Drake are a must.  Keep pounding the rock, that will open up play action and time for Tannehill to succeed.

3.  Stop Hyde and Kaepernick- these two on the ground could cause big problems for the Dolphins defense.  Ranked 30th against the run, the Dolphins will need to keep an eye on Kaepernick on throwing downs.  The 49ers receiving corps will not scare anyone on paper, but he is a threat to run on third and manageable, which will keep drives moving.  Expect lots of nickel packages and someone spying on him most of the game.  Carlos Hyde has been banged up most of the season but can be a very dangerous downhill runner.  Building a lead and forcing the run away from the 49ers is a vital key to victory.

4.  DVP-  100% the key for the Dolphins wins the previous two weeks, is their second year WR in Devante Parker.  He was absolutely masterful against the Chargers with 105 yards receiving and the final drive against the Rams, where he dove for the game winning touchdown with 26 seconds left.  Gase must continue to find ways to get him involved.  Not only is DVP a must in the game plan to open the field up, this will allow Jarvis Landry to continue to work underneath on crossing routes and slants.

5.  Home Field Advantage- 5 consecutive victories, 4-1 on the season at home, you be that Hard Rock Stadium is going to be rocking.  For the first time in almost 9 years, the Dolphins will finally be a difficult place to play.  Get loud, be proud!  This team is making a huge 180 from what we have experienced.  Make Hard Rock loud!

This game seems to be an "easy" win for the Dolphins, but as we know, their previous 4 wins have all come in the fourth quarter.  I hope to see Miami come out firing in the first quarter, as their sluggish starts have been well documented.  They have been outscored 69-27 in opening quarters this season.  I believe this trend will change this week as the Dolphins force the 49ers to try and play catch-up.  Six consecutive victories and a tie for a wild-card should be on the docket this weekend!

Dolphins 27  49ers 13

Season Record (7-3)

Remember to keep up on all the latest Dolphins news on Dolphinstalk.com and check out our podcast featuring myself and Randy on Monday mornings.  Fins Up!

@ternisse13

Saturday Morning Update


-While it is good news that Dion Jordan is back practicing with the team it is very unlikely he plays in any game for the Dolphins this year.

-Mike Pouncey and Branden Albert are OUT for this Sunday's game and will not play. Laremy Tunsil is a game-time decision. The Dolphins need Tunsil out there badly. Do not think because San Fran only has 1 win they cannot win this game. Miami can lose this game and if Miami is playing a 3rd string left tackle along with back-up's at center and guard SF could throttle the Dolphins offense and keep this low scoring. If so SF will hang around and could easily win. Tunsil being on the field is key.

-The Dolphins will wear their Throwback Uniforms for the last time this year on Sunday vs San Francisco.

-Will be interesting to see if Baccari Rambo starts again at safety this week. Rambo has only been on the team a few weeks but last week already passed Michael Thomas on the depth chart and started vs the Rams. Thomas hasn't played well at safety this year.

-With Miami in the middle of a playoff chase as we enter December it's time for some scoreboard watching. Here is who you should be rooting for this Sunday..
  -Carolina to beat Oakland
  -Cincinnati to beat Baltimore
  -Chicago to beat Tennessee
  -Jacksonville to beat Buffalo
  -Kansas City plays Denver--Doesn't matter who wins as they both have the same record and same    conference record.

-With Jason Jones suspended for 2 weeks it will be interesting to see who takes his snaps going forward. Mario Williams has been limited in practice for weeks and I don't expect him to pick up much of the slack as he has been bad when he has played this year for the most part.  The two names to keep an eye on are Leon Orr and Terence Fede.  Also with Earl Mitchell back don't be shocked to see Suh kicked out to DE on some plays and the Fins go with Mitchell and Phillips at DT some this week and next.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Week 12: GAMBLING CORNER

Happy Thanksgiving everyone from the Gambling Corner. A lot, and I mean a lot of good point spreads this week. Because it's the Holiday Season and I am feeling thankful and in a giving mood I will give you 11....yes 11 picks this week. Eat em up folks!


COLLEGE GAMES

OHIO ST -6.5 over Michigan
Michigan has nothing left, they are done. Their QB issue is a mess and Ohio St is ready to beat the holy hell out of them. I like Ohio St big here.

WISCONSIN -14 over Minnesota
Wisconsin has a legit shot at the playoff and they have been playing very well of late. They need it much more and I like Wisconsin big here as well.

Auburn +17.5 over ALABAMA
Bama is a much better team but this game has backdoor cover written all over it. Auburn will be up for the game, they will keep it somewhat close.

Nebraska +2 over IOWA
I'm sorry, I know Iowa beat Michigan but they shouldn't be favored over Nebraska. Give me the cornhuskers.

Houston -4 over MEMPHIS
I'm not sold on Memphis being anywhere near as good as Houston here. Give me Houston laying a small number.

YEAR TO DATE RECORD: 20-13



NFL GAMES

Washington/Dallas OVER 47
I haven't bet an over/under this year mainly because I haven't seen one I have loved. Well I love this one. Short week so teams might be beat up and tired (especially late in the year) on defense. I could see this as a shoot-out on Thursday. Take the OVER!

Pittsburgh -8.5 over INDIANAPOLIS
Yes this is the updated line after Luck was announced out. Pitt will roll in this one on the road.

New York Giants -7 over CLEVELAND
The Browns got nothing....and I mean NOTHING left. Giants big here.

NEW ORLEANS -7 over Los Angeles
I'm not sure Goff can score enough points to keep this one close. Rams are awful on offense. Brees gets his usual 20-24 points, LA won't get past 14...give me the Saints!

Tennessee -4.5 over CHICAGO
The Titans will score some points this week, not sure the Bears without Cutler and Jeffrey will. Titans big here.

HOUSTON + 1.5 over San Diego
Houston coming off a horrible loss at home against a SD team that is just snake bitten. I like Houston as a home dog here.

YEAR TO DATE RECORD: 19-17


Film Study: Miami Dolphins @ LA Rams, Week

This is my weekly Film Study article for DolphinsTalk.com: The 4-5 Los Angeles Rams hosted the 5-4 Miami Dolphins at The Coliseum, L.A. The following is my reaction to the game after watching the game live Sunday and then re-watching it in its entirety Tuesday morning. If you are not interested in reliving the game then please scroll through to just the individual film studies and the closing thoughts section. For more from me, go follow me on twitter @TomLikeFootball

Narrative throughout the week
Much of the narrative throughout the week centred on the announcement early in the week that the LA Rams would start their no.1 overall pick rookie QB Jared Goff. Goff has so far sat behind Case Keenum, however, Keenum’s weak arm and inability to push the ball down field made the Rams one-dimensional as opposing Defenses filled the box and shut down RB Todd Gurley. A big narrative throughout this week was that the Dolphins Coaches would have no credible game film on Goff. Yet many still talked of Goff’s significantly bigger arm and whether he would push the ball down the field forcing the Dolphins to play two deep safeties and allowing Gurley more room to operate.

Another major narrative that developed throughout the week (and even during the game) was injuries beginning to take their toll on Miami. The Offensive Line which has been a instrumental in Miami’s four game win streak would have to suit up without Pro-Bowl LT Branden Albert and Pro-Bowl Center Mike Pouncey (one of the best Centers in the League). This Dolphins O-Line the past four games has average 180 rushing yards (1st NFL) and allowed only 3 sacks compared to the 15 that were allowed in the first five games. Miami were clearly going to struggle particularly against a Rams D-Line who are physical tone setters and a team with athletic Linebackers and DBs who appear to fly all over the field.

The loss of Albert would hurt any team, however, 1st round pick Laremy Tunsil slid from LG to LT for limited periods @ Cincinnati and @ San Diego and did not look totally inept. The biggest loss for the Dolphins would be Center Mike Pouncey. Not only is Pouncey excellent in pass protection but is also one of the best run blocking Centers in the NFL and the Leagues best at pulling and getting quickly into the second level. However, what Miami would miss most is what Pouncey does pre-snap. Pouncey at Center is the one who calls out coverages to Tannehill and who gets his fellow O-Line in place as he calls out protection, adjustments and also pick ups (who has who). While starting Kraig Urbik at LG and a rookie at LT would hurt any O-Line unit, it is the loss of Pouncey which would make this game an incredibly difficult match up against a strong Rams Defense and the best DT in football not named Ndamukong Suh (Aaron Donald). The Dolphins also stayed out on the West Coast instead of flying home which would harm the creatures of nature that are football players and coaches.

Trap Game? Most Definitely.

Miami Dolphins @ LA Rams, Week 11
This was always going to be a difficult game to write about considering the sloppy nature in which it panned out but here we go…

The first play of the game was a 38-yard kick off return for the Rams, something that seemed to occur repeatedly throughout the game. If this was a different week against a team with an offense that could push the ball down the field and move the chains then this could have been a dangerous development. Thankfully, the Dolphins were able to force LA into punting and held the Rams Defense in check for most of the game. The Dolphins first play was a play action dump off to TE Dion Sims who was streaking towards the sideline for a quick 9-yard gain. This is a play that the Dolphins have used frequently in the past five weeks, particularly early in the game to help the Offense build rhythm and give Tannehill a few ‘easier’ throws and reads to ease him into the game. On 2nd & 1 Gase dialled up a RPO (Run, Pass Option) where Tannehill took the ball from Ajayi on a read option before throwing a quick pass to Landry on the side lines for a 1st down. This was creative play calling from Gase as he looked to build rhythm early in the game.

The only score of the first half came on the Rams second possession which ended with a Todd Gurley 24 yard TD run. The play has been broken down below, however, it was similar to the Jets game where Forte walked untouched into the end zone. The Dolphins brought pressure but were moved out of their lanes too easily by an unbalanced line (6 Offensive Linemen) and the Linebackers were unable to maintain their gap assignments.





This is a Rams O-Line that has got no push all year but manhandled the Dolphins on this drive. Don’t worry ‘Fins fans, the Dolphins made adjustments and were able to shut down the run to small gains the rest of the game.

Not much more to say about the first half… There was one play design that I loved which was a play action pass to Parker for 12 yards. To sell the run even more the Dolphins LG pulled as Tannehill faked the hand off. Little nuances like this are what sell deceptions and the Dolphins Offense expertly executed it perfectly. Sadly something you cannot say much for the rest of the first three quarters.




After the Gurley Touchdown he was largely stuffed the rest of the first half and the Dolphins have a great rotation at DT with both Jordan Phillips and Earl Mitchell registering tackles for a loss backing the Rams up to 2nd and 3rd & long. Sadly the Offense was less positive and the absence of Mike Pouncey and what he brings pre-snap was largely missed. On 3rd & 5 the Rams lined up a Safety on the line of scrimmage and either the protection totally missed it or the RB Williams just couldn’t get over in time as Tunsil past off the Safety while the RB was late to adjust which resulted in a Rams Sack as Tannehill took a big hit.

Miami love using the double A-Gap blitz with one of Linebackers blitzing and the other dropping into coverage and picking up the underneath routes. It was the play design that got Miami their pick-Six last week and the Dolphins used it numerous times Sunday. First LB Spencer Paysinger dropped back into coverage and read a slant perfectly to force the Rams into punting before Alonso dropped back late in the third quarter and stopped the underneath route. Spencer Paysinger played extremely well in coverage all game long and was regularly breaking on the ball before it was thrown.

The Dolphins got their adjustments wrong again just before half time as a Safety blitz from the left side, again, was missed by the RB Williams, again, as the untouched Safety rocketed into Tannehill’s blindside. The Rams registered their third sack of the game just before half time as Robert Quinn who was beaten to the floor by LT Laremy Tunsil crawled along the floor and tapped Tannehill’s ankles for a sack. The Dolphins did get a sack of their own as Cam Wake welcomed Jared Goff to the NFL with a hit to chest as Suh and Branch were closing in on the rookie signal caller.

HT: 7-0 LA Rams

Some of my thoughts at Half Time that I jotted down were that the Dolphins needed to sort out their pass protection along the Offensive Line and needed to get DeVante Parker more involved on Offense. When Parker gets involved it draws coverage and thus allows Miami’s playmakers in Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry more space to operate and be productive.


Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill overthrew WR Kenny Stills on the opening possession of the third quarter and was picked by the Safety, however, Stills managed to hit the Safety hard enough to force him to drop the ball saving a turnover. The following drive Kiko Alonso (who had a good game) forced a fumble giving Miami excellent field position near mid-field… Yet, the very next play Tannehill tried to take a shot deep, which was picked as Parker was boxed out in the end zone by the Safety. The throw came on a play action and Parker was actually open when Tannehill planted his foot following the play action, however, a combination of the ball being slightly overthrow and Tannehill seeing the play late allowed the Safety to recover and break on the ball before ultimately picking it out of the air.

Byron Maxwell played well for the Dolphins and had an excellent solo tackle in the open field to stop Todd Gurley square in his tracks and drive him backwards on a Tackle for a Loss. This was an important tackle as the Dolphins had brought eight and therefore any missed tackle would likely have resulted in 6 points. The Rams went 10-0 up late in the third on a series that saw CB Tony Lippett miss THREE tackles in eight seconds on WR Tavon Austin. The Rams were forced to kick a Field Goal and with the way the Dolphins Offense was playing, 10-0 and a two score game felt like Game Over.

Penalties seem to be a common theme this season with the Dolphins (ranked 2nd most in NFL) and they couldn’t get out of their own way as Kenny Stills was flagged for a stupid push in the back after Ajayi had spun out of one tackle and fought for yardage to move the chains. The following play Tannehill was rocked for a 3-yard sack as the Dolphins surrendered five sacks on the day (more than the past four weeks combined). The next sack was due to RG Jermon Bushrod being driven into the backfield as the pocket collapsed all around Tannehill. The Rams then missed a 48 Field Goal attempt with 6:40 left in the fourth quarter and the Dolphins were handed a lifeline with great field position.

These last two drives for Miami both resulted in Touchdowns after the Dolphins had gone 0-10 on third down and their first eleven drives resulted in ten punts (a league high this season) and an interception. Ryan Tannehill was 12-21 for 57 yards and an Interception before these two drives yet went 12-13 for 115 yards and 2 TDs during crunch time. Tannehill threw almost exclusively to Ajayi and Parker during these two drives apart from a couple of throws to Jarvis Landry, one of which resulted in the Dolphins first touchdown (this should have been flagged for a penalty as he was stopped at the 5 yard line before the O-Line piled Landry and a couple of Rams defenders into the end zone).

Yet the score was only 10-7 with 4:02 to go in the fourth quarter and the Dolphins had burnt a timeout on a costly mistake where Adam Gase got bad information from upstairs to challenge a Parker incomplete catch. The Double A-Gap Blitz appeared yet again and was successful for the third time. The Dolphins eventually got the ball back with 2:11 to go and 1 time out before Tannehill and Parker took over the game which was capped by a Parker 9 yard touchdown catch.




The Dolphins were awful on Offense and somehow won this game despite converting only one third down. Tannehill made plays when it was crunch time and the Defense played extremely well and kept this game close throughout.

Closing Thoughts

Goodness me what an awful yet exhilarating game, only the Dolphins! Miami some how came away with a win against a strong Rams Defensive showing. The Dolphins struggled mightily on Offense the entire game (apart from two drives at the end). The Dolphins managed to do what most play off bound teams do and get a win no matter what. Whether it was the new rookie QB with no game film, 3 injuries along the Offensive Line, Penalties, Penalties, Penalties! Or the weather conditions where the rain was relentless throughout; Miami found a way to chalk up another W. Good teams find ways to win whether its against a high powered San Diego Offense in the California sunshine or a Defensive slug fest in the monsoon LA rain against a strong Rams Defense.

(Jim Rassol/ Sun Sentinel)
(Jim Rassol/ Sun Sentinel)

Miami won its 5th game in a row and now sits at 6-4 in a prime position to challenge for the final wild card play off spot (and yes, the Chiefs lost!). Miami overcame adversity in this game and despite punting ten times (yes TEN!) the Dolphins put enough together late in the fourth quarter offensively to steal this one. The Offense never got going throughout the game, however, the Defense deserves a tonne of credit. Despite giving up a TD early in the game they held the Rams out of the end zone the rest of the way and largely shut down the Rams passing and rushing attack.

This D-Line continues to impress week after week and the Dolphins have a sneakily good rotation at the DT spot next to Suh with either Jordan Philips (proving himself a disruptive pass rusher) or Earl Mitchel (who has been a force against the run the past couple of weeks). Cam Wake is Cam Wake and is defying age and science as he comes back from his torn Achilles tendon. Suh is Suh, lets leave it at that. But Andre Branch is a guy who was largely overlooked in the offseason as many fans gushed over the newly arriving Mario Williams. Branch is 25 and a FA at the end of this season. He has the potential to be an above-average starting DE in the NFL and I believe the Dolphins Front Office needs to be given credit for finding an economical long term solution who can match the production of Olivier Vernon without his price tag. I thought Kiko Alonso was excellent yet again today and LB Spencer Paysinger was excellent in coverage. This Dolphins Defense looked good for a fifth consecutive week and Ryan Tannehill again led his team down the field and effectively took over the game to ensure Miami got the W. He went 12 of 13 for 115 yards and 2 TDs in crunch time to lead Miami to their fifth consecutive win.

Game manager? I’ll let you decide.

On to San Francisco - Fins Up!

Monday, November 21, 2016

DolphinsTalk.com Podcast for November 21st, 2016

The Boys are back with a brand new episode of the DolphinsTalk.com podcast recapping the Dolphins thrilling victory over the LA Rams on Sunday. Randy and Tom will break down all of the big moments in the game. They will also do a preview of next Sunday's contest in which Miami faces the San Francisco 49ers.

Make sure you Like, Subscribe, and download the podcast. And visit DolphinsTalk.com every dya for the latest Miami Dolphins news. 

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