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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
The passing game started clicking in the second half. Some will say these were garbage time points, but it isn't garbage time if you still have a chance to win. Some will say they padded their stats against a soft defense, but the Patriots were completely crowding Dolphins receivers at the line of scrimmage and forcing the Dolphins to throw downfield. And the Dolphins were able to do that. If not for an inept defensive scheme, the Dolphins tie this game. More on that later.
The no-huddle offense worked well late against Seattle and worked even better against New England. When the Dolphins start the game running a conventional offense, it doesn't work so well. Gase needs to take the handcuffs off and let this team open up with the no-huddle so they can establish a rhythm.
Jarvis Landry (10 catches, 137 yards) and Devante Parker (8 catches, 106 yards) both had productive games.
The entire team was terrible in the first half. But no unit was worse than the defense. The Dolphins were going up against a young, inexperienced QB starting his second game and a bunch of slow, white receivers. Their defensive philosophy against this inexperienced QB and those slow, white receivers was to play off coverage so the QB could make quick, easy throws. And of course, this being the Patriots bread and butter, that's exactly what they did. Additionally, late in the game, when the Patriots had to roll out a 3rd string QB who had never thrown in the NFL, the defensive philosophy seemed to remain the same. Instead of stacking the box to stop the run, the Dolphins seemed to run the same defense. The result was that the Patriots literally ran left over and over again and the Dolphins couldn't stop it. Also, perhaps someone should remind Vance Joseph that the other team has a tight end and they use it. It is one thing to be unable to outfight the tight end for the ball. It is another when no one seems interested in even being near the tight end.
It seems that last week's defensive performance against Seattle was a mirage as Seattle continues to struggle on offense. Right now, the zone concepts the Dolphins love to run look a lot like the concepts they were running under Kevin Coyle. Read and react versus seek and destroy.
Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase need to get on the same page. Right now, it seems that Gase continues having a hard time letting go and giving Tannehill more control. When he does, Tannehill and the offense play better. This needs to be the approach for now to get this offense on track. Tannehill also needs to start hot. He has notoriously been a slow starter that needs time to get into the rhythm of the game. For two weeks now, he doesn't seem to get going until it's too late. He showed some heroics and made some great throws against the Patriots late in the game to get the Dolphins within striking distance. It would be nice to see that from the start of the game.
Many predicted an 0-2 start but the shame of it is both games were winnable. At the end, it was a tired defense that had spent too much time on the field that couldn't make one more play to set up the win. It's been dropped TDs and turnovers on offense that interrupt the flow of the game. Missed tackles and poor coverage that keep the defense on the field. These things need to get addressed soon if the Dolphins want to turn this around. The defensive schemes need to change, especially in the back 7. These coverages aren't fooling inexperienced QBs.
Right now, coaching/lack of preparation seem to be the main causes of this slow start. These guys better catch up quickly or it will be another long, lost season.
The More Things Change ....
... the more they stay the same? Well, offensively that seemed to hold true. Until Miami's last drive, you had the feeling that Miami's offense was not the aggressive offense that Coach Gase had promised but the "play-it-safe" offense of Tony Sparano. No kidding.
Let's just say that Coach Gase's first game wasn't the kind of game that a new coach would like to have. The Seahawks defense is known as one of the best defenses that creates turnovers and takes it to the house. Offensive playcalling reflected a team learning a new offense and a coach still getting to know his quarterback. Midway through the game Tannehill tried to talk Gase into passing plays that were mid to deep. Finally, on Miami's last drive, Gase gave into Tannehill's advice, and the Dolphins went 85 yards for their only touchdown of the game ... and their first (and brief) lead of the game. Before this drive the Dolphins were 0 of 10 on 3rd downs. During that drive Tannehill was 4 for 4 on third downs. Very telling, eh?
My thoughts, based on Coach Gase's comments after the game, are that this is a good learning moment for the coach. I would rather learn these things facing non-divisional and non-conference opponents than against the big AFC East divisional games. Gase has the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. If he wants any chance to win this he will have to open up the offense. Playing games "safe" usually ends up with a loss in the fourth quarter. Eh, Seattle?
Adam Gase: "I was even mad at myself because I felt like I should have went to what we ended up going to earlier in the game. I kept talking myself out of it and (Tannehill) kept pressing me to get to basically what set up that drive with some of those plays, he kept pressing me to get to that stuff and I kept talking myself out of it. Then finally once I listened to him, then we marched the ball down the field. It was a great lesson for me as far as when he says to go to something, we’re going to go to it." link
Is the Defense For Real?
I have to believe they are real. Last year I called up Rich Rodriguez, our "Good, Bad, and Ugly" blog writer wanting his thoughts on the Dolphins. He was sure that the problems were not talent but coaching. I had to agree with him.
A hot defensive coordinator name this past offseason was the Bengles CB Coach Vance Joseph. The Broncos were denied an interview last year as he was under contract. Joseph did a very good job working with veterans and developing young talent at Cincinatti.
Most of us miss the 3-4 defense as the Dolphins have played worst each year since the change to the 4-3. Joseph looked at the talent and decided that the team now has talent for the 4-3 defense after 4 years of rebuilding it. I wish Philben had the brains to stay with a 3-4 because at the time we had a top 10 defense with 3-4 personnel.
Against the Seahawks we saw why he went with the 4-3 as Miami's attacking defense kept Russell Wilson on his heels until the last series of the game of each half.
Back in May, Joseph had this to say about his Dolphins defense. Keep in mind that they hadn't had a full practice yet.
"Both win .. And I've been a 3-4 guy most of my career. But when you come to a place like this and see the defensive personnel you've got, and, in my opinion, it's not broken, you can't all of a sudden go to 34 where you have to re-draft to a defense. That takes time. That takes too much time." link
“It looks like a defense that’s playing on their own terms. I don’t want to be a defense that’s reacting to the offense. I want to play on our terms. That, in my opinion, is the way players want to play. They don’t want to read and react. They want to attack. So in my opinion, we’re going to be an attack-style defense from every position — from the D-line, corners, safeties, linebackers. Every position.” link
If there is an area of improvement then I would think that Joseph needs to tighten up his defense at the end of each half as the Dolphins gave up a field goal at the end of the field goal and a touchdown to lose the game with 15 seconds left in the game. That is 10 points right there in a 12-10 loss. What I saw on those two drives is a defensive line without key personnel to keep the pressure on Russell Wilson. Joseph gave a couple of defensive linemen a brief break at the end of the first half, and the Dolphins were without DT Earl Mitchell (now on injured reserve until week 8) and DE Mario Williams (concussion). That made the difference on that last drive as Wilson was able to find the time to attack our very young secondary.
Now, don't get me wrong. The defense played outstanding. This loss hangs on our offense for the conservative playcalling, the dropped touchdown by Stills, and the missed field goals by Franks.
Mario and Devante should play Sunday
This is outstanding news because if I see Stills out there dropping a beautifully thrown deep pass (let's just call it what it is ... a BOMB) from Tannehill, I'm going to leave the Sports Bar and drive my SUV into the first car with a Patriots logo on it. Devante Parker is our deep threat and he needs to quit sabotaging his season by not taking care of his body. Parker is a hard worker and pushes his body hard, but if he doesn't keep himself hydrated and eating well he is going to continue to suffer hamstring injuries. Coach Gase actually called him out on it publically last week, and let's hope that it sticks this time.
As far as Mario Williams, he still has plenty left in the tank. He was disruptive last week and made a big difference in Miami's attacking defense.
Earl Mitchell out, Chris Jones back in.
Losing Earl Mitchell hurt us last week, but I have to believe that Mitchell is one of those guys that we should have replaced in the offseason His play has been on the decline the past two years and our run defense has suffered. Next to Suh last year his play should have elevated as Suh constantly gets the double and triple teams.
It is time for Jordan Phillips to earn that high 2nd round draft pick status that we gave him last year. In fact, several teams had him rated in the late first round. Last week against the Seahawks, Jordan played better than he did last year. That means he is showing improvement. That is a very good sign for inside of our defense.
The Dolphins resigned DT Chris Jones. He was a starter with the Patriots at the position in 2014, injured all of 2015, and then signed by the Dolphins after being cut early in the offseason this year. He made it until the final cut.
Who thinks that he will not have a chip on his shoulder this weekend facing his former team that gave up on him?
Pro Football Focus Stats vs Seahawks.
Top offensive grades:
Top defensive grades:
This Week's Attaboys.
A big attaboy goes to C Anthony Steen. PFF rated him as the 6th best center last week and rated better than Jets Nick Mangold, Panthers Ryan Kalil, Cowboys Travis Frederick, Jills Eric Wood, Ravens Jeremy Zuttah, and Steelers Maurkice Pouncey. After seeing the Dolphins whiffing on offensive line veterans, draft picks outside the first round, free agents it is such a welcome surprised to actually add an offensive lineman who is an outstanding starter. Of course, it is only one game, but he did a good job in the preseason as well. We shall see. Should we trade Pouncey now? What a crazy thought that is. Pouncey is a Pro Bowl center and is actually a natural guard. Steen can play guard as well. Let's not forget that if Branden Albert goes down, Tunsil can slide into his natural position at LT, Steen can play LG, and Pouncey will be at Center. Depth along the OL is key if you are to win in the NFL.
How about an attaboy for rookie Laremy Tunsil? He was rated Miami's best run blocker this week and that was facing the Seahawk defensive line. He had some issues in pass blocking, but there is a learning curve for him as he had never played guard at Ole Miss. He's a natural LT. In fact, I would say the entire OL needs to work on pass blocking as they fell apart when facing the blitz.
Abdul who? If you didn't know who safety Isa Abdul-Quddus is then you do now. He had an outstanding game as he only allowed a 9 yard reception, and he picked off the only other pass in his direction. He did a fantastic job against the run as well and was rated PFF's highest rated safety for week 1. He and Rashad Jones are an excellent 1-2 punch at the safety positions.
Get off the field.
To the four Dolphins who kneeled during the national anthem, I say that we bench them or cut them. I know two are starters but not kneeling during the national anthem disrespects every person who has fought and/or died for our country. I come from a family of 3 retired military people, so, I know what I am talking about. My brother, a huge Dolphins fan, cancelled his Direct TV.
Tell me that you have free speech on your job, and I'll call you a liar. During the game they are on the job, so, quit the stupidity. I salute everyone else who stood for America, and I will not focus on the four idiots.