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1. Why Did We Not Stack the Box Sooner?
So, I hate to complain about a defense that has not given up a lot of points, but should it be better? I think that is the real question. Last Monday night we saw the Jets gash our defense for 277 yards ... 210 yards in the first half alone. Giving up all those yards is very concerning, but the coaching scheme was a real problem for us in the first half.
Let me wrap my brain around this. First, the Jets are a running team and rank highly in the NFL in that statistic. What are the Jets going to do against a Miami defense which gave up a lot of yards to the Broncos the week before? They are going to run the ball. Second, the Jets have some serious quarterback issues. Geno Smith has been horrible this year throwing very inaccurately and many interceptions. The coaches have zero confidence in Geno Smith ... almost less than Geno has for himself right now. What will the Jets do? They will run the ball and control the clock against the Dolphins defense. The Dolphins have two of the better run-stuffing safeties in the NFL, and one of the biggest playmakers in CB Brent Grimes. What are we going to do? We are going to push our safeties back to support the pass, and have our CBs back off the receivers about 10 yards deep. The Dolphins played this way the entire first half. The fans throughout the entire country are yelling, "Coyle, stack the box! Stack the box!" We saw no real changes to help the run defense. Coyle must be thinking, "The scheme is good. The players just need to step it up and execute." Yes, that makes perfect sense to me.
In the second half Coyle decided to cheat up the safeties to help stuff the run. It should have been the game plan the entire game.
After the game, DC Kevin Coyle said ...
"I’m not going to defend that we gave up 210 yards [rushing] in the first half. They ran the ball almost every play. We weren’t as bad as what it comes off initially. We need to fix some things in terms of these run fits, in terms of dealing with these reverses. They had run reverses but not of the actions they showed last night…. Disappointed in the way we started the game. We have to do a better job.”
While the defense only gave up 10 points, just call it luck that we didn't face a quality team such as Green Bay or Detroit ... or maybe the Ravens which can run and pass the ball. Just because the gameplan worked does not make it a good plan.
2. Mikey, Catch the Friggin' Ball.
I have to say that Mike Wallace has stepped up his game this year. He still does miss passes that a #1 WR should not miss, but with the lack of a deep passing game, he has shown everyone that he is more than a one-trick pony.
However, when Tannehill does deliver a catchable deep pass to him he has to come down with the ball. His one-handed catch attempt brought out a lot of profanity around the country because he has complained about a lack of deep balls only to drop one.
3. Can Tannehill Even Throw a Deep Pass?
In order to throw the deep pass, a quarterback needs the time to throw it. Tannehill does not have the time to step into a deep pass. When he did have time to throw it in the first couple of games, he did miss them then as well. It takes practice and good footwork to throw the deep pass. I think Tannehill will get it eventually.
If you watch any quarterback throw the deep pass, they miss the deep pass more than you think. I watched Tom Brady overthrow a deep pass Tannehill-style last week twice against the Packers. One of those passes could have won the game for them, but no one is saying anything about Brady missing those passes. It is because he does a lot of things right.
Accuracy on passes over 20 yards.
Ryan Tannehill - 32.4% accuracy - ranked 20th
Tom Brady - 32% - ranked 22nd
Ryan Tannehill - 32.8% - ranked 17th
Tom Brady - 39.4% - ranked 12th
Ryan Tannehill - 43.1% - ranked 7th
Tom Brady - 40.5% - ranked 14th
A lot is made about Tannehill's inability to throw the deep pass, but have you seen what he can do? He is like a surgeon on the field picking apart defenses with lazor quick passes. He moves the ball down the field. Are some of his passes off the mark? Occasionally they are, just like any other quarterback. Receivers have to make the difficult catches. The difference in the Lions game was MegaTron catching difficult passes. Tannehill just set the team record for5 passing games in a season with 70% completion rate. We do understand that Dan the Man threw more vertical passes than Tannehill does, so, we really did not expect Danny to hold that record. This year has thrown 20 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. He is protecting the ball and making smart decisions.
So, for all the fans out there that like to blame Tannehill for not being the next Dan Marino, understand that he has done everything that we have asked of a franchise quarterback. He has improved in each of this 3 years, and he is playing consistently good football this year.
The Sun Sentinel's Omar Kelly said at the beginning of this season that if Tannehill finished at a 85 QBR then the Dolphins would finish with double digit wins and would be worth investing in. Right now Tannehill's QBR is 92.1 and Omar still continues to complain about him. While Omar is entertaining I have difficulty in taking his analysis seriously when it comes to the Dolphins.
4. Hey, How Did That 10-Man Defense Work For Us?
I understand that things are crazy down there on the field, but let's try to avoid these mistakes. This play was so wide open that I thought that even Dan Marino could have raced 20 yards down the field and scored a touchdown. By the way, to tell you how futile the Jets have been offensively, that touchdown was the only touchdown that he have made in 11 quarters (almost 3 full games).
5. Dan the Man is Helping With Tanne-Thrill.
Perhaps some of Tannehill's improvement is due to the work that Dan the Man has given him during their time of going over tapes. Marino has been very respectful of Bill Lazor and Ryan Tannehill, and has offered to join them.
Asthe Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote this week ....
Dan Marino, who has been watching tape with Tannehill, has been careful not to step on coach’s toes. “There was a time he said, ‘Hey what time are you meeting? Can I come in?’ And that was about all it took,” Lazor said. “He’s been a great professional. He’s at practice most days.”
I just cannot tell you how thrilled I am that owner Stephen Ross has opened up the organization to add Marino, and that Marino is excited to help out in any capacity.
Reshad Jones, Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins - these three combined for 40 tackles, including 6 tackles for a loss. Reshad Jones had a good day in coverage, eventually picking off Geno Smith's last pass to seal the game. Jenkins and Misi also did a good job when called upon to blitz. These three players really stepped it up in the second half to shake the cobwebs on defense. Misi got a big sack on a blitz of Geno Smith and Jenkins had great coverage and deflected the pass that Jones eventually picked off. Most importantly, when the Dolphins FINALLY put Reshad Jones in the box, he destroyed several Jets running plays. He was the difference against the run today.
Lamar Miller - Underutilized all season long, Miller helped spark the comeback in the 2nd half with his quick, decisive running and the lone touchdown for the Dolphins.
Dion Sims - 4 catches on 4 targets for 58 yards, Sims has helped alleviate the absence of Charles Clay and is starting to develop into a nice pass catching tight end. He is also a terrific blocker, who helped keep Tannehill upright in pass protection, specifically on one play action pass where Sims ran from the left side of the line all the way to the right to block Calvin Pace, allowing Tannehill to hit Wallace for a 25 yard strike.
Jarvis Landry - He continues developing into a safety blanket for Tannehill. The rookie leads the team in receiving and caught 8 of his 11 targets.
Run Defense - The Broncos laid out the template and the Jets upgraded it, rushing for 277 yards by running right at the middle of the Dolphins defense. The past couple of weeks, teams have been pushing Randy Starks around. Once again, he was the lowest rated Dolphins defender according to PFF. He was also the lowest rated run defender. Starks had been having a solid season, but has really fallen off the last two weeks. Earl Mitchell didn't help the Dolphins cause, coming in rated as the 2nd worst defender and 2nd worst against the run. There is an issue here that is being exposed and the Dolphins need to fix it quickly.
Kevin Coyle - Again he runs a perplexing defensive scheme for most of the game. Here you are, facing one of the best running games in the league and one of the worst quarterbacks and receiving units in the league and the Dolphins come out with two deep safeties. I understand that you have a nobody starting at cornerback in R.J. Stanford, but you have Brent Grimes on the other side. Stack the box, cheat over to Standford's side and make Geno Smith beat you. It wasn't until the second half that Coyle adjusted and went to 8 men in the box by bringing up Reshad Jones. Is this guy so inept that he can't figure this out until the second half? Or maybe someone else had to figure it out for him? You have all week to analyze your opponent, there is nothing surprising about the Jets. You make Geno Smith beat you. This isn't rocket science.
Ryan Tannehill - 5 straight games completing over 70% of his passes, but that doesn't tell the whole story. This was Tannehill's worst game of the season. He should have had at least two more interceptions, but he was also one of the reasons the Dolphins came back to win it. In a way, it is actually encouraging that Tannehill can play an ugly game but still overcome struggles to win it. Some old habits crept back up as Tannehill started locking into his receivers and had shaky pocket presence. This is just evidence that pressure brings the worst out of quarterbacks. He did come out playing better and attacking downfield more in the second half.
Mike Wallace - Statistically, he had an OK game, but Mike Wallace has been clamoring for more big plays and when Tannehill finally hits him deep in stride, Wallace tries to one hand it and drops a sure touchdown. Talk the talk, Mike Wallace.
Offensive Line - I do admire this unit. They have been hit with significant injuries but they keep plugging along. Jawuan James had a good game, allowing no sacks or pressures, but in the first half, Tannehill was getting hit early and often. Things started looking bleak when Samson Satele went down, but Mike Pouncey slid right over to center and didn't miss a beat. The depth of this unit has been tested severely and while they haven't been terrific, they've been good enough to win.
This should be expected of a division rivalry game. The important thing is that the Dolphins won and are back in the driver's seat to make the playoffs. Tannehill didn't have his best game but the Dolphins were still able to win it. That's a great sign. Conversely, the run defense is a huge concern. You can be sure that Baltimore will be giving the Dolphins a heavy dose of Justin Forsett until the Dolphins prove they can stop the power running game. And with a real quarterback in Joe Flacco, and real wide receivers in Steve Smith and Torrey Smith, the Dolphins are not going to be able to just stack the box against the Ravens. Randy Starks and Earl Mitchell have to begin winning their match ups again. In fact, I'll go as far as saying those two players will decide the game for the Dolphins.
Get it together guys!