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Week 10: Bills at Dolphins
When most of us saw this week on the calendar we wrote it down as a loss and tried to figure out playoff scenarios another way. Afterall, beating Denver in Mile High is something very few NFL teams have done. It is going to be loud, cold and probably windy. It isn't quite as inhospitable as Lambeau but it is close. Add to that Denver is coming off a stinging loss on the road to the Rams and you have the back drop to the mountain the Dolphins have to climb. Another annoying trait about Miami is they don't know how to drive. Whey they are clearly in the driver's seat for a playoff spot they tend to faulter. Put them two games down with four to play and they can beat anyone it seems. Go back to last season. They beat some good playoff teams to get right back into the middle of the hunt and then fell apart the final two games. So here they are again. They're at a place where a win would put them at the top of the pile for the 6th seed wildcard, or if we dare dream larger, the division title. NE plays both Greenbay and Detroit in the next two weeks. If Miami can do the unthinkable and pull offf the upset in Denver it will most likely put the title on the line up in NE a few weeks from now. I dare not think it. Seems like every time I begin to believe in this team they do something to shatter my new found confidence in them. So like most of us, I still have this penciled in as a loss.
How they can win:
How they can lose:
I think the pressure is more on Denver than Miami this game. The media has made a big deal of their last 3 games. Also, Denver loses the head to head against NE so if they continue to fall behind it means the road to the superbowl won't be in Denver. Miami .... what if. If they win, it means they can afford a hiccup down the road. If they lose, they're back to needing to beat etiher Baltimre or NE to get in the playoffs.
MIAMI'S RED ZONE PROBLEMS
A lot has been said about Miami's problems in the red zone. Getting to the Red Zone has been an enjoyable part of the Dolphins game this season as they are one of the best in the NFL in getting there, but when it comes to finishing the deal they are one of the league's worst.
I made a couple of the guys laugh in the chat room Thursday night when I pointed out that Tannehill's fumble inside the red zone cost the Dolphins a Fist Pump opportunity. You have to laugh at the image of Tony Sparano with his trademark fistpump after a field goal. I actually liked Sparano as he was a passionate person. Just think how he would have acted if the Dolphins actually started scoring touchdowns during his time with the Dolphins.
Anyways, back on topic with a Mike Wallace quote following the Bills win:
"Scoring in the red zone isn’t coaches fault. It’s our fault. He’s calling good plays in the red zone. We’ve just got to execute it."
It's kind of like the chicken-and-the-egg argument. Which came first? The Dolphins aren't scoring in the red zone because the players are not executing the plays. Or the Dolphins aren't scoring in the red zone because the coach isn't calling the right plays. Maybe it's a little of both.
I have no doubt that Coach Lazor is calling good plays in the Red Zone. I would think that Coach Philben is not sticking his nose into the playcalling as he does on our last possession in close games (keep in mind that Philben is now 0-2 with his conservative input to Lazor in these situations this year). I have no doubt also that the players are still trying to execute this new offense.
Perhaps it is a talent issue. Do the Dolphins have the talent to get into the end zone consistently when the field gets shorter? Teams love to call the jump ball in the end zone, but the Dolphins have not done this well. I am happy to see that play not called as much as it used to as Tannehill does not have good touch on those type of passes. Also, the Dolphins do not seem to have the receivers who can bring the ball down.
Everyone has their opinions about what the problem is, and the coaches have to get it figured out.
Talk about it here.
SHOULD THE DOLPHINS KICK THE TIRES ON INCOGNITO?
Oy. Now, I understand that the Dolphins have some serious issues along the offensive line, but that would be a real problem. I loved Incognito's work ethic on the field. Unfortunately he has a way of destroying chemistry along the offensive line and it will stick with him ... especially with the Dolphins. That ship has sailed and sank in the Bermuda Triangle.
I don't get the Dolphins infatuation with G/T Dallas Thomas. We keep hearing that he has improved. If that were true then how bad was he last year, because he is a turnstyle no matter the position he has played with us. The Dolphins moved him to RT this week and he started all 69 snaps at the position. He had his worst rating of the year according to Pro Football Focus. I understand that he faced Mario Williams, but is he the best option we have at the RT position? Mario Williams had his best game of the season facing Dallas Thomas. If Mario faced Thomas every game of the season, he'd be in MVP talks.
And, I'd hate to kick our star rookie, but OT JuWa'an James has been steller for us this year ... except for the last two games. Moving to LT has not been a great move for him. I do see him improving, because James is a talented player and he has not played LT since his high school days.
With 10 days until the next game, the Dolphins had better bring someone in and move James back to RT, or keep James at LT and promote someone to RT.
Talk about it here.
DOLPHINS ARE MAKING GREAT HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS
I may have to start skipping the first half of games from here on out. I do not have blood pressure problems except during the first half of games. Now, second half adjustments have been very impressive as the Dolphins have outscored teams 113-41 in the third quarter. Talk about domination.
The obvious attaboys would go to our coordinators as both sides of the ball are making dramatic improvements in their schemes, but let's not forget about HC Joe Philben. His rah-rah halftime speech is getting through to the players and they are coming out very aggresively and confidently.
Talk about it here.
JAMAR TAYLOR MOVES OUT OF THE SUCK ZONE
One of the reasons the Dolphins lost the Lions game was because the Lions went right after Jamar Taylor once Finnegan went down. Due to Taylor's lack of experience, he was smoked. He said this after that game:
“I gave up a pick route and an under route that I hadn’t seen in a game before. I won’t make the same mistake again. But I competed my butt off. I think I played pretty good.”
Taylor made good on his promise to not make the same mistake again. He played a complete game and his name was mentioned several times during the game with some nice stops. He may turn out to be the cornerback that Ireland thought he would be when he drafted him in the second round last year. Due to health issues, he fell to the middle of the second round, and did not play much his rookie season.
OC BILL LAZOR TOO HARD ON SOME VETERANS
NFL.COM's Jeff Darlington wrote earlier this week that there is a rift between some of the Dolphins and our Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson said yesterday that he heard the rumors throughout the season, so, he confirmed the validity in the Darlington report.
What I see are results: the Dolphins 24.9 points of offensive production per game are the best in over 20 years; Ryan Tannehill just completed the fourth game of this season with a 100+ efficiency rating (let that one sink in your brain); without Lazor, Eagles QB Foles production has dropped and he is making a lot of mistakes; aside from Brian Hartline, players are used to the best of their abilities.
There will always be whiners on any team. If they want to be happy then they need to play harder and make a difference.
Talk about it here.