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Week 10: Bills at Dolphins
The 1-2 Miami Dolphins travel to the UK to take on the 0-3 Oakland Raiders in a 1:00 kickoff on CBS. Miami is coming off an extremely disappointing 34-15 loss at home to Kansas City while the Raiders lost in Foxboro to New England 16-9. Needless to say that impressive opening game day win over the New England Patriots seems like a distand memory after only 2 weeks.
The loss to Kansas City was troubling in many ways last week. The defense came out early and was dominant, but by the 2nd quarter, the Chiefs had made adjustment and it became very obvious that the linebacker corps for the Dolphins would be a factor in a major way. While Jelani Jenkins had a nice day from a statistics standpoint, he missed many tackles, which is becoming a theme again for this defense. Jason Trusnik is a special teams player, and I will leave it at that. Phillip Wheeler continues to be a disappointment. The secondary has their issues as well. Brent Grimes is a solid cover corner, but his tackling leaves a lot to be desired as does safety Jimmy Wilson. The off coverage played by the secondary allows to many short passes to be completed and the pass rush has been inconsistent.
Offensively, I thought Ryan Tannehill was better from an accuracy standpoint, but the Dolphins wide receivers continued a troubling trend in regards to drop passes. Miami LEADS the NFL in drop passes, and with the exception of Mike Wallace, the play from the wide receivers has left a lot to be desired this season. The OL is still a work in progress and OC Bill Lazor has become far to dependent on the pass game when the run game for the Dolphins has been very good so for in 2014. There is NO balance at all to the offense, and that has to change.
Miami comes into the game offensively averaging 327 yards per game, 190 yards passing and 137.3 yards per game rushing while scoring 19.3 points per game. QB Ryan Tannehill is completing 56.5 percent of his passes for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Mike Wallace is the leading WR for Miami with 17 catches for 211 yards while Lamar Miller is the leading rusher with 37 carries for 213 yards, and is coming off a 15 carries for 108 yard game last week. They face an Oakland defense giving up 342 yards per game, 183 yards passing, 159 yards rushing. The Raiders are allowing 21.7 points per game.
The key for Miami offensively is BALANCE. The Dolphins have attempted 124 passes while only running the ball 79 times. When your rushing attack ranks 7th in the NFL, featuring the run game more is going to be key. Whether Lazor comes out and does that is another thing. Also, the OL needs to continue to improve and the wide receivers for the Dolphins have to start catching the ball. I believe Ryan has done a better job over the weeks from an accuracy standpoint, he needs his receivers to step up and do what they are paid to do, catch the ball.
Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game giving up 324 yards per game, 199 passing and 125 against the rush, while giving up 27.7 points per game. 2nd year LB Jelani Jenkins is the leading tackler and Miami comes into the game with 9 sacks. They will face a Raiders offense that is only averaging 254 yards per game, 190 yards passing and 64 yards rushing per game. The Raiders are averagaing 12.3 points per game. Rookie QB Derek Carr is completing 63.0 percent of his passes for 588 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Darren McFadden is the leading rusher for the Raiders with 34 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. James Jones is the leading receiver with 15 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Point blank, this is a game the defense has a chance to dominate, but the linebacker play has to get better along with the tackling. The Raiders are REALLY struggling offensively. That said, the Chiefs were struggling offensively as well, and after the 1st quarter, the Dolphin defense allowed KC to get going offensively the rest of the game. The defensive front for the Dolphins has to have a dominant performance to help this linebacker corp, or they could find the Raiders having success.
This is a BIG game for the Dolphins this early in the season. After coming off the impressive win over New England, the Dolphins have looked awful in losing to Buffalo and Kansas City. To make matters worst, HC Joe Phiblin initally did not give QB Ryan Tannehill his backing as the starting QB, which started a media whirlwind. Things could turn UGLY very quickly for the Dolphins if they cannot get a win over the winless Oakland Raiders.
Let's Go Miami.
ALL READY REBUILDING
Let's face it, we are all ready in the middle of one. With the firing of JEFF IRELAND and hiring his replacement in DENNIS HICKEY as our new general manager, the team has new direction. Unfortunately, as I have been saying since midseason last year, Miami needed to get rid of the general manager, head coach, and coordinators. Two out of four has been done. We're just in a wait mode to axe Philben and Coyle. "Wait for it ... it's going to be ..." (sorry, I just can't write "Lengenday" right now).
LAZOR IS A MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Offensively we saw MIKE SHERMAN get the boot at season's end, and we saw BILL LAZOR hired as the new offensive coordinator. Coach Philben made a good decision here even though he was forced to fire Sherman.
Currently there is a lot of inconsistency in the pass game, but the running game has improved majorly in run blocking and we've seen very decisive running by LAMAR MILLER. Even DANIEL THOMAS looked good and useful last week. When the Dolphins get KNOWSHON MORENO back, he will be an even bigger boost to the run game and the offense. Moreno makes better decisions, is a very good blocker, explodes quickly through the hole, and elevates his team with his attitude. Moreno also catches passes better than Miller as Miller all ready has 3 drops this year and a fumble.
BUT you don't have a running game if you are not using it. The Dolphins have been very pass heavy in Lazor's playcalling and they only have 1 rushing touchdown in 3 games.
This isn't the Bill Lazor that we expected when he was hired as he has worked under Dan Reeves, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Chip Kelly in his coaching career. Every one of those coaching greats said very good things about Lazor after we hired him. He came very highly recommended and he chose the Dolphins over the Lions who are stacked offensively.
We expecedt a balanced attack of run and pass plays, and we expect him to go with the hot phase of the offense. What we have seen is a repeat of Mike Sherman's pass happy offense with the short safe pass plays. I find it hard to believe that Lazor has full control of the offense when I see a repeat of Sherman. In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say that the offense will improve and he could be our next head coach. He is that smart.
As Rich said this week ...
- Some things to think about.
- Ryan Tannehill is second in the NFL in pass attempts.
- The Dolphins are 7th in rushing yards and 2nd in yards per rush.
- The Dolphins are 23rd in rushing attempts.
- We don't have Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, folks.
- We should not even be in the top 10 in passing attempts.
- We also shouldn't be in the bottom 10 in rush attempts.
- The lack of balance on offense has been staggeringly mind boggling considering how well we run the ball.
KEVIN COYLE IS KILLING ME
When Joe Philben was hired as our head coach, he said that the Dolphins are moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. We all knew that was a huge mistake. It had taken years to move to the larger and athletic linebackers of the 3-4 scheme and our defense is going to have to be rebuilt to get to the 4-3. Ireland took a big step in the process last year by adding Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler and booting out Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. That proved to be a horrendous move. Even though Ellerbe and Wheeler played very well the previous year, they failed miserably with the Dolphins. Wheeler ranked dead last compared to other outside linebackers in the NFL in 2013.
Last year we had some young talent, but Coyle was hesitant to use and develop them in games. He is wasting young talent and putting them in positions where they will not achieve their potential. I mean, why put Dion Jordan on the defensive line where he has to put his hand in the dirt rather than line up at linebacker and let him do his magic? He even has Chris McCain lining up at DE. I do like Coyle's agressiveness, but he feels he can put players in his scheme and it will work. He needs to get adjust his defense more to the talent that he has.
The zone defense is giving up long third down completions, and the tackling is horrendous the past two years. Why can't Coyle see that we have the corner to press the receivers and that they've done well in that regard when called upon? I swear, seeing all of this each and every game makes me want to turn off the game each week as it is frustrating.
JOE PHILBEN IS NOT HEAD COACHING MATERIAL
As we saw this week, Philben caused a lot of controversy by not saying that Tannehill was his starter when he had planned to keep him in as his starter all along. Geez, grow a brain stem and make smart team decisions. I do like his personality improvements this year as far as relating to his team, but you have to wonder if he has lost his team all ready. Three years in as the head coach you should see improvements in his thought process. I don't see it as he keeps making mistakes.
While Philben has been elusive and pointing fingers at his team to the press, Bill Lazor has been taking the blame of the offense on himself and standing behind his quarterback in public. What Lazor is doing is what a head coach should do, and take care of business in-house.
TANNEHILL IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
Yep, I am tired of using the excuse that the offensive line is not blocking well and this is causing Tannehill to rush his thought process. Guess what? It is still true. I will say that Tannehill has improved in each game this year, and I expect him to show improvement throughout the year. I really like his skillset, and I think that Bill Lazor will be able to develop it. BUT Tannehill needs time to throw the ball. He has been so used to rushing his reads knowing that he is going to be hit that perhaps it has ruined him. He was a young and developing quarterback when we drafted him, but being hit or sacked on every pass has got to have a toll on him mentally.
And how about the highest priced receivers catching the friggin' ball? Right now the Dolphins rank #1 in the NFL in dropped passes. No kidding.
What would I do with Tannehill? I would keep him as our starter, but I would also pull him out if I felt he was not being effective. Matt Moore is a backup quarterback for a reason. With Tannehill, we have to make a decision this year if he is the franchise or not. Lazor has worked with a lot of quarterbacks, and I think Tannehill could be a slower learner than some others. Tannehill really did not play all that bad last week, but he didn't do much to push the ball downfield. He seems to be playing it safe and he's looking Mike Wallace's way too much. I like it that Wallace is getting used more as he can be a home run threat every time he touches the ball, but throw the ball around, too.
Where is Tannehill's leadership? I don't see it, and that is concerning. If he does not take the next step forward he will get benched. There is no surprise there, but now is not the time. As I said, bench him during games if the offense is not effective. I think people will see that the backup is usually not the savior.
The offensive line has to block much better and the receivers need to catch the ball. He needs help. Is he Andrew Luck? Not right now, which is why a lot of fans had the "Suck for Luck" thing going on. Not many quarterbacks coming into the NFL are as good as Andrew Luck.
So, I am asking everyone to quit panicking, because the team needs to rebuild from the top. We have our GM and we have our Offensive Coordinator. The Dolphins will have to replace Philben and Coyle in the offseason. It is what it is, so, try to enjoy the season.
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