October 21, 2014

Miami Dolphins DE Dion Jordan: 'I'm drug free'

Dion Jordan talked to the press for the first time since he began serving his initial suspension (for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances) and the first time since being popped and saddled with a second suspension (for violating the NFL substance abuse policy). The interview session was a mixed bag.

He declined to admit he underwent treatment at a rehab facility, although that's exactly what happened. But he was unequivocal in telling you -- Dolphins fans everywhere -- you should feel confident about one thing:

"I think they should be confident I'm drug free," Jordan said. "Yes, I'm very confident."

Jordan also admited "I made a mistake."

Well, that's good.

Jordan was not quite so direct when asked if he underwent treatment at a rehabilitation facility.

"Man, honestly, I had to take time for myself," Jordan said when asked to confirm his stint in rehab. "That's what I did. I wasn't able to be around the guys so my whole thing was go back and be around people familiar to me who keep me grounded. That's what I did and I stayed in shape and I'm thankful that once I got back the Miami Dolphins everyone within the organization took me in and allowed me to get back into my normal routine so when it was time to step on the field I was back to where I was."

Huh?

Anyway, Jordan doesn't think now that he's back he's getting something of a second chance.

"I can't call it that," Jordan said. "I'm not looking back at what happened. It's no point in me doing that. I'm moving on and that's all I can do. I  have the ability to contribute to this organization and that's what I'm going to do."

Jordan does believe he "bettered myself" and "came back with a clear mind" and "took care of my business." Bottom line, Jordan feels he's in good surroundings now.

 "It feels really good to be back and get back into the swing of things and being around my teammates; getting back to my normal routine and what I'm used to," he said.

Dion Jordan working as are Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are back working and so is Dion Jordan today.

Jordan, on the exemption list now, does not count on the 53-man roster but he is able to practice with the team. And that's what he's doing but the much anticipated ways defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said the team could easily find uses for Jordan somewhat disappoints me so far.

Today, Jordan was incorporated into the kickoff coverage team, picking up where he left off as he was on the kickoff coverage team all last year and the preseason.

Today, Jordan worked with the defensive linemen because, well, he's a defensive lineman.

But during the open portion of practice at least there was no evidence Jordan was going to get snaps with the linebackers where he might start working as a strongside backer. Miami's linebacker corps continues to be Koa Misi in the middle and Jelani Jenkins and Phillip Wheeler outside.

Me: :-(

As you may know I have advocated using Jordan as a strongside linebacker.

Some other notes from practice:

Misi and CB Brent Grimes, who were not able to finish Sunday's game due to injuries, were back practicing today and showing no signs of injury. They practiced at least on a limited basis as the media is not able to view the entire practice.

Brandon Gibson, out the last two weeks, is back at practice today and working at least on a limited basis.

Jimmy Wilson, who missed last week due to a hamstring injury, is not practicing today.

 

The PFF and Salguero rewind of the Bears win

Glad tidings on the scoreboard typically translate to good grades for the Miami Dolphins from my friends at ProFootballFocus.com and this week is no different.

The Dolphins beat the Chicago Bears and the film rewind of the victoy was kind to Miami.

Here are some nuggets:

Offensive Summary

RB Damien Williams saw the first snaps in relief of Lamar Miller, but Daniel Thomas ultimately played more, holding a 24-5 snap count advantage over Williams. Miller handled 43 of 71 snaps.

The Dolphins played plenty of 12 personnel protecting the lead in the second half, but Jarvis Landry saw 42 snaps and looks entrenched as the starter in the slot for now. Brandon Gibson, meanwhile, was inactive for his second consecutive game.

In what’s already been a dominant year for LT Branden Albert, he recorded his highest grade (+6.9) of the season, excelling in the run game (+4.4) and silencing Jared Allen and Willie Young in the pass rush. Young led the NFL in sacks before this game.

Passing

QB Ryan Tannehill had a clean pocket, with no pressure on 27 of his 36 drop-backs. He was 23-for-27 with 239 yards and 2 TDs on those drop-backs.

With a clean pocket, Tannehill was able to look down the field a little more. On passes travelling 10-19 yards downfield he was 6-of-8 for 78 yards and the pair of scores.

The shot down the field and the bomb have apparently been benched by the Dolphins. The team simply doesn't try them recently. Tannehill was 1-of-3 for 25 yards on passes of 20-plus yards downfield.

Rushing

The primary success in the running game came behind Albert. Miller attempted six runs behind his left tackle, producing 32 yards.

Miller is doing a better job not going down on first contact. He posted 38 yards after contact, his second highest number of the season, despite just 63 yards overall on the ground.

Receiving

The Dolphins were able to take advantage of TE Charles Clay’s matchups with the Chicago LBs. Three of Clay's four catches and 46 of his 58 yards came against Shea McClellan and Khaseem Greene, including his TD catch.

Tannehill attacked Greene at will, targeting him the most of any Bears defender. Clay, Miller, Thomas and Williams caught seven of eight targets for 79 yards, with the lone miss being a drop by Miller on a check-down.

Defensive Summary

DE Cameron Wake continues to make right tackles look silly. In addition to his sack-fumble-recovery, Wake tallied three hurries and made two more stops in the run game.

Michael Thomas and Jamar Taylor split nickel corner duties in Jimmy Wilson’s absence. Thomas played 26 snaps as slot corner, while Taylor played 19 snaps at right corner, kicking Finnegan to the slot in those instances. Taylor struggled giving up two penalties.

Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi were the nickel LBs for most of the day, with Philip Wheeler joining them in the base. Misi couldn’t finish the game out and Jason Trusnik and Wheeler manned the nickel on the final drive.

Brent Grimes couldn’t finish out the game either, leaving on the final drive. The three DBs to close the game at corner were Finnegan at RCB, Thomas in the slot, and Taylor at LCB.

The Dolphins did not report any injuries for either Grimes or Misi so it will be interesting to see if both players practice on Tuesday.

Coverage

Despite allowing six catches on nine targets for 67 yards and a score, Cortland Finnegan bounced back from his very poor Week Six. He broke up two passes: one in the end-zone near the end of the game to Brandon Marshall and another on a deep-ball to Alshon Jeffery.

Besides the interception, safety Reshad Jones broke up two passes and allowed two catches on 4 targets.

After shadowing Jordy Nelson last week, Brent Grimes was back at his left corner position. Bears QB Jay Cutler targeted him just three times, resulting in two catches for 8 yards. Excellent work by Grimes and the people up front who rushed Cutler.

October 20, 2014

Consistency by the Miami Dolphins a significant step

CHICAGO -- Inconsistency has been the bugaboo for the Dolphins this year. Everyone knows that. Everyone has come to expect it.

And one game of consistency does not change everything, as I write in my column today. By the way, I also take you into the Dolphins locker room and into the Bears' locker room immediately after the game. Let's just say there was a vastly different vibe from each place.

Anyway, the consistency (or lack thereof) by the Dolphins this season has been galling. Except on Sunday the Dolphins gave us their most consistent performance of the season.

Consider:

Miami scored seven points in the first quarter.

And seven points in the second quarter.

And seven points in the third quarter.

And six points in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Tannehill was hot in the first half. And he was hot in the second half.

The defense caused turnovers in the first half. And caused turnovers in the second half.

The Jekyll and Hyde personality of the Dolphins was happily, thankfully missing this day.

So does that mean the Dolphins have found the answer to consistency going forward? I don't know. You don't know. I don't believe the Dolphins know. But at least the possibility is there because for the first time this season, we've seen a full offensive and defensive performance from this team throughout four quarters against a solid opponent.

Feel good about that. It is progress.

October 19, 2014

Miami Dolphins defeat Chicago Bears, 27-14

CHICAGO -- There were questions about this Miami Dolphins team before today.

Do they have an answer for last week's bitter defeat?

Can they save the season?

Can their defense stand up to a franchise quarterback?

The answer is this 27-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.

The team that left the field so dejected and disappointed last week, the team whose players made Dolphins coach Joe Philbin coach "antsy" and feel "queasy" last week, delivered its most convincing performance since the season-opener.

(Yes, there was the Oakland victory but that was a victory over ... winless Oakland).

This performance in Soldier Field, against a playoff contender,

Ryan Tannehill delivered. He was 25 of 32 for 277 yards and two touchdowns. His rating was 123.6. That's a career high rating for Tannehill.

The defense delivered. Jay Cutler was intercepted by Reshad Jones. That led to point. Cameron Wake had a strip sack and fumble recovery and that led to points. The defense focred another fumble by Dante Rosario and that would have led to points, too, except the attempt was blocked.

So yes, the defense did its part.

A loss would have been devestating today. This win?

It keeps open every possibility for the remainder of this season. 

Ryan Tannehill lighting up Bears in first half

CHICAGO -- The Dolphins are halfway to a much-needed victory at historic Solider Field, leading 14-0 so far, and the way they're doing it is quite simple really:

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is playing out of his mind.

Tannehill has completed 14 of 15 passes for 176 yards with two touchdown passes -- to Charles Clay and Mike Wallace. Tannehill started the game with 14 consecutive completions. His quarterback rating is 155.1.

It is such a convincing performance so far, it's easy to overlook the four sacks Tannehill has suffered.

The Miami defense, meanwhile, is also playing well.

The Bears have two first downs.

Two.

Live blog: Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears

CHICAGO -- Jimmy Wilson is not playing today. That's not a surprise as he was doubtful for this game. Samson Satele is active and will start at center so Mike Pouncey stays at right guard.

The other inactives:  Brandon Gibson, Shelley Smith, Jason Fox, Anthony Johnson, Billy Turner and Harold Hoskins.

If you have time before the game, check out my column on the importance of today's game (means everything) right here.

There's a live blog today. Go below:

 

Live Blog Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears: Oct. 19, 2014
 

October 18, 2014

Keys to the game: Miami Dolphins at Bears

CHICAGO -- I don't think the Miami Dolphins can beat the Chicago Bears. I think the Dolphins can win Sunday's game at Soldier Field if the Bears help, by beating themselves.

But if the Bears don't beat themselves. If Jay Cutler doesn't throw interceptions. If the defense doesn't have coverage busts. If coach Marc Trestman doesn't make bonehead decisions ...

Bears win.

So I'm picking the Bears because I think the Dolphins are just as likely to make mistakes -- as has been their history this year.

Here are the keys to the game:

When the Bears pass the football: Brandon Marshall is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. Alshon Jeffery is 6-3 and 216 pounds. The Dolphins cornerbacks, meanwhile, are elves. Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan, both 5-10, will be physically overmatched against Chicago’s starting receivers and to make matters worse, both defenders are coming off tough games against Green Bay last week. So do the Dolphins play more zone rather than matching up man-to-man as much as they tried to do last week? Do the Dolphins trying to integrate taller but less experienced Jamar Taylor into the mix in the nickel package? The issue is problematic. The only way around it is to address the passer and not so much the receivers. If the Dolphins’ defensive front, led by Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, can pressure quarterback Jay Cutler so much that he hasn’t the time to wait for his redwood receivers to come open, the Dolphins have a chance. Oh, by the way, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is 6-6 and also a significant mismatch against Miami’s linebackers and safeties. ADVANTAGE: Chicago.

When the Bears run the football: The overall statistics say running back Matt Forte is an average runner, averaging 4-yards-per-carry. But at home, Forte is much better. He is averaging 99.7 yards rushing and a touchdown in the last five home games. In those games he is averaging 159.7 yards from scrimmage, including 60 passing yards per game. The Chicago offensive line is getting healthier. Michael Ola is back on the bench because Matt Slauson is healthy again. The Dolphins’ run defense has been ranked lower than the pass defense (13th vs. 7th) but it has actually been more consistent, offering solid resistance in all but one game -- against Kansas City. The important issue this game is for the Dolphins to be able to stop the Chicago running game without committing an extra defender into the tackle box. That defender can then be deployed against early-down passes. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Dolphins pass the football: Ryan Tannehill has to avoid the terrible start (he didn’t last week) or the inconsistency from half to half (he didn’t last week) because he truly does hold the key to his team winning – as most NFL quarterbacks do. When Tannehill posts a rating of 90-plus, the Dolphins are 13-1. So he must find a way to play well if not outplay Jay Cutler. One statistic that suggests this might happen is Tannehill has completed 69.4 percent of his passes the last two games. It would not shock to see more and more and more of Jarvis Landry because he is getting better and is the future at wide receiver for Miami. But the Dolphins have to also find a way to integrate Brian Hartline more into the offense because ignoring a two-time 1,000-yard receiver is no way to succeed. The Bears defense is not as strong as it once was – except against the pass it has players to be wary of. Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller leads the NFL with three interceptions and defensive end Willie Young leads the NFL with seven sacks. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Dolphins run the football: It is Lamar Miller’s show now. With Knowshon Moreno out for the season it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins commit more carries to Miller or instead keep Miller at his current rate of use (averaging 12 rushes per game) and give more carries to either rookie Damien Williams or Daniel Thomas. If the Dolphins are wise, they’ll do both. Miller, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, should rightly be a bigger part of a running game that should rightly be a bigger part of the offense. The Dolphins expect improvement from their offensive line, as Mike Pouncey, who started his first game last week, will get better. But again, this team must run the ball more often. Last week the Dolphins faced the No. 32 run defense in the NFL and ran the ball only 23 times while passing against a better pass defense 31 times. The Bears have the No. 10 rush defense in the NFL. So is Miami going to test them even less? That would be a mistake. By the way, Ryan Tannehill should run the football more often. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Special teams: The Dolphins have to do some serious improvement on both their punt return and punt coverage teams. The team is last in the NFL, yielding 15.7 yards per punt return. That average is obviously affected by last week’s crucial 17-yard return that set up the Packers at their own 40-yard line. That cannot continue in crunch situations. The Dolphins are not much better on kickoff coverage, yielding 28.2 yards per return, which is fifth worst in the NFL. The Bears, meanwhile, have covered kicks well. They’re No. 4 in the NFL on kickoff coverage. Chicago’s punt coverage isn’t quite as proficient, yielding 9.9 yards per punt return, which is seventh worst in the NFL. Miami punter Brandon Fields, who has averaged over 40 net yards per punt each of the last three seasons is averaging 31.3 net yards per punt this year, a career worst mark. Not good enough. ADVANTAGE: Chicago.

Coaching: Marc Trestman, a gifted offensive mind, has come a long way from being a Dolphins quarterback coach. He’s won a Grey Cup in the Canadian Football League and now has his own team. It is illustrative of how poor some of the decisions made by Dolphins coaches have been. In 2004, then head coach Dave Wannstedt wanted to promote Trestman to offensive coordinator but changed course when another assistant – offensive line coach Tony Wise – suggested there would be an offensive assistant mutiny as a result. Trestman was one of the most gifted coaches on the staff but had to stay in the shadows. The Dolphins stunk that year – Wannstedt’s last in Miami. What does that have to do with this game? Didn’t I mention Trestman is a gifted offensive coach? ADVANTAGE: Chicago.

October 17, 2014

Dion Jordan (around camp already) on cusp of return

Dion Jordan has been around the Miami Dolphins practice facility this week, according to a source, no doubt as he prepares to return from his second of two suspensions he has served to start this season.

Jordan, about to begin his second season, is eligible to return to the team's active roster on Monday, one day after the team plays the Chicago Bears.

Too bad this added suspension without pay for violating the NFL's Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse kept Jordan out of the lineup against Chicago. The Dolphins could definitely use him.

Indeed, Jordan would be the perfect matchup aganst Chicago 6-6 tight end Martellus Bennett. Indeed, Jordan would have been the perfect matchup against Green Bay 6-4 tight end Andrew Quarless last week, but don't get me started.

Why would a defensive end be a good candidate to match up with those tight ends, you ask?

Well, because I think it is time to bring the curtain down on the idea that Jordan is a hands-in-the-dirt 4-3 defensive end. He's obviously capable of being much more than that. Yes, he can rush the passer. But he's got the speed and the skill set to run with tight ends.

(Note to self: Do not go into the Dolphins should run the 3-4 defense rant).

Remember last season Jordan did exactly what I'm saying in New England, running step-for-step with Rob Gronkowski? Afterward he told me he felt comfortable doing it. He told me it was easy.

Well, if it is easy, perhaps the Dolphins should consider allowing the Jordan return to signal a new start for the player. How about the team that is dangerously low on linebackers to the point Phillip Wheeler, who is not necessarily great in coverage, is still starting, make a bold move and use Jordan at strongside linebacker?

After all, I'm told by a couple of people in the know that former general manager Jeff Ireland considered Jordan capable of playing strongside linebacker when he was drafted. It was to be part of the plan for Jordan, I'm told.

But Jordan spent a large majority of his too few rookie plays at defensive end. There were excuses for that. Jordan was injured during the offseason and so he couldn't get into the offseason program. He was injured most of training camp and so he couldn't get a lot of practice in. And by the time the season started, Jordan was pretty much behind with little chance to develop and catch up.

Guess what?

There will be plenty of excuses for this move to not happen again this year. The kid just spent the past six weeks on the suspension shelf. It's just easier putting him into the part-time pass rush rotation and telling him to simply chase the guy who throws the football.

Who's going to complain if that happens? After all, it was Jordan's fault he hasn't been available to get coached up on a new spot, first for violating the performance enhancing drug policy and then the substances of abuse policy.

Well, that suspension is now history. This has to be about the view ahead not behind.

This has to be also about doing the most impactful thing rather than the easy thing.

And as strengthening the strongside linebacker spot we all saw is a weakness is the most impactful thing, that's what I wish would happen. To me, a linebacker corps of Jelani Jenkins at weakside, Koa Misi in the middle and Jordan at strongside is more athletic and a better option than having Wheeler in there instead of Jordan.

Will it take work? Sure. But why do you think they pay so well?

Coaches that are getting a ton of money (relatively) should work at making a gifted and underused athlete who is making a ton of money (by any standard) work on fitting a clear need.

Do I expect it can happen immediately? Like against Jacksonville next week? Probably not. But work at it. Develop this guy. He's worth it.

And the Dolphins defense could definitely use the upgrade.

October 16, 2014

Pouncey will improve ... So Miami Dolphins should run more

Mike Pouncey had not played a game in 10 months so, yes, he was nervous on the eve of his season-debut against the Green Bay Packers.

“I was nervous. I woke up that morning like at 4:30 in the morning," Pouncey said Wednesday. "I had a bunch of family in town, so I just expressed to them how nervous I was. I felt like I was a rookie all over again. But once I got out there after that first snap, it was just great to be back out there. I felt back to normal."

No.

Not back to normal.

Normal for the past three seasons has been playing center. Normal has been getting in a training camp and preseason. Normal has been not waiting until October (Week 6 of the season) to play in a season debut.

And that's really good. Because as Mike Pouncey's season becomes, shall we say, more normal, we might see his level of play become much better -- maybe to the Pro Bowl heights we saw at times in recent years.

Remember, when I first wrote about Pouncey possibly making a change from center to guard on Sept. 28, he told me he could be a Pro Bowl guard. Well, let's go ...

"I did all right," Pouncey said of his performance. "But I hold myself to a high standard and I’ve got to play a lot better than I did."

Pouncey's history suggests he will be better. And that is where I think the Dolphins can turn this into a part of a season-helping (saving?) idea:

Look, Even when the right guard spot was an abyss -- with one mediocre guy playing for a while until he got hurt and was replaced by another mediocre player -- the Dolphins were running the football pretty well.

The team is No. 3 in rushing yards per attempt at 5.0. The team is ranked No. 6 in rushing yards per game at 136.2. And these impressive rankings despite the fact the team is No 15, or middle of the pack, in rushing attempts per game at 27.4.

So you know what I think?

With an improving OL, because Pouncey will likely be better with every passing game at RG and rookie RT Ja'Wuan James is improving as well, with Lamar Miller so far showing he deserves more carries, and with the passing game being mostly inconsistent, I think the Dolphins should run the football more.

Much more.

They should be run-first, if that's what it takes. 

Obviously, what they've been doing in mixing more passes than runs hasn't exactly worked to a great degree. Why not do what you do better more often, especially when your personnel to do that thing you do better is, well, getting better?

It is just an idea. 

October 15, 2014

Marshall trade was bad for Dolphins but wasn't wrong

I asked Joe Philbin if he (and former general manager Jeff Ireland) traded Brandon Marshall because of the erstwhile wide receiver's history for not getting along with young quarterbacks, specifically Chad Henne.

"Not necessarily," Philbin said today. "Again, that was a long time ago and it was we just felt like where we were as a program and organizationally, the opportunity came and that was the decision we came to."

Stop.

Protecting their coming quarterback, protecting their organization and a severe mistrust of Marshall was the reason the Dolphins traded Marshall, ya'll.

In the spring of 2012 the Miami Dolphins planned to draft a young quarterback. They were well aware there would be growing pains with that young quarterback. And the team was wary about Marshall disrespecting the new kid the same way he had Henne on the sideline or in practices or during games.

Yes, the team was also worried Marshall would have a final nuclear meltdown to go with his lesser run-ins with police and his wife. Marshall, you see, was not in the same place then as now. He was a ticking time bomb then. Police would be called to his address on a semi-regular basis, I've been told.

At least seven times that went unreported in the media.

Marshall today is more mature. He says he got himself saved. He is in a situation playing with friend Jay Cutler where he respects Cutler and understands him and himself more. So he's obviously in a better place.

But even now, Marshall is sometimes Marshall.

He was asked today about those 2010-11 Dolphins.

"We were a quarterback away from having a team," Marshall said.

Still ripping Henne to this day.

Anyway, I predict the narrative this week will at some point be how terrible the Dolphins trade of Marshall was. And I have issues with that narrative. The idea to trade Marshall was a good one. I advocated it well before the Dolphins did it.

Indeed, I advocated not signing Marshall before the Dolphins signed him. I never thought it would happen. I didn't think giving up two second-round picks for him and paying him a big contract was a good investment.

So I didn't hate the trade to Chicago philosophically. I understand the Dolphins had to trade Brandon Marshall. It was the right thing to do.

Now, what they did after the trade ... with the picks they got in exchange?

Not good.

The Dolphins essentially  (I say essentially because there were other throw-ins used to get some pieces) traded Marshall for tight end Michael Egnew, cornerback Will Davis, tight end Will Davis and receiver B.J. Cunningham.

Cunningham was cut in his first training camp. Engew was cut in his third training camp after two subpar seasons as a third-round pick. Davis is a role player today. He served as a nickel corner the first four games of this season but has been demoted since. And tight end Dion Sims is merely functional as a blocking tight end but not necessarily a game-changer.

Not comparable for a two-time Pro Bowl player that is a game-changer, right?

No. It isn't.

But did the Dolphins have to make the trade, given the circumstances they found themselves at the time? Yes. Probably.

If the Dolphins had drafted T.Y. Hilton in that 2012 third round instead of Michael Egnew, no one would complain today.

Moral of the story? Draft better.

Can the Miami Dolphins put stinging loss behind them?

The loss to the Green Bay Packers was a gut punch. To me, that bitter defeat has the potential to be a season-defining moment that sends the Miami Dolphins on a tailspin from which they might not recover.

So this week I am looking for signs this team is rebounding. I am searching for clues to see whether Sunday's loss will linger like a hangover after an all-night bender or whether the team is walking a straight line to the next assignment rather than being haunted by the past.

The Dolphins provided some of those clues on Tuesday. Oh, some players were honest. They said they still felt the sting of the loss a full two days after it was sealed.

"Even during practice I was kind of upset we lost the game," receiver Mike Wallace said. "I was still thinking about it. But once [Wednesday] comes, we've got a new gameplan. We got to let it go. It's tough to lose those type of games but we got to move forward. We'll be fine."

That's honest and expected. Let's face it, that game stung. And for many people the pain of failure is stubborn and hard to overcome while the satisfaction of victory is fleeting.

“I think it’s tough," cornerback Cortland Finnegan admitted. "I think when you had a good team right where we had them, it’s tough, but it’s the 24-hour rule. I think the Chicago Bears don’t give a rip what happened against the Green Bay Packers. So we’ve got to go out there and give them our best."

A football team is the united heartbeat of 53 individuals and a coaching staff. (Yeah, that's some prose). Anyway, even as there is only one heartbeat there are varying opinions and reactions. Some players said they had already moved forward.

The question is whether those players and the coaches will dominate over any lingering lack of confidence, or pain, or emotional bankruptcy in willing the entire group to pivot to the next game against the Chicago Bears.

Joe Philbin said he saw a tangible sign that the defeat is not lingering.

"I thought it was our best Tuesday practice of the year," Philbin said after a session that lasted approximately 90 minutes. "I know we had a tough hard-fought game the other day, but I thought our guys came out and really prepared extremely well. We’ve got a long way to go before the game and a lot more of the game plan to put in, but I thought we got off to a good start."

A good practice suggests the players were not sleepwalking. It suggests they were being professional and moving on to the next assignment.

But it is only one sign. It is still early in the week. Philbin and his coaches must be wary of a team liking wounds or picking at scars for too long. And so Philbin talked to the players about it.

“We talked a little bit in the team meeting." Philbin said. "We said look, ‘We’ve got to be tougher than that mentally.’ Really, as we all know, obviously it takes tremendous physical skill to be an NFL football player, but, once you get there, a lot of it is mental. So all of us, myself included, we all have to get back to work. This is an important game and we have to play well."

It is easier said than done.

"One hunderd percent honest, it's how bad you messed up or how great you did," defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. "Sometimes you want to move past a game, so you move on. Sometimes it's easier than others and sometimes it's harder than others.

"In terms of lingering and thinking of what you did, [a loss] will last through a good part of Monday. You're sitting there and thinking about what you did, what's going to be said when you go back into the building, what you're going to be corrected on or what you might be praised for. When it's a loss everything is going to be illuminated as much as when you win but either way, you have a game next week and you have to perform. You think about them. And part of you becoming a pro is forgetting about them. Learning from it, extracting the nutrients from a win or loss, but moving on to the next."

We'll see how well the Dolphins can move on to the next this week.

October 14, 2014

Two days later: Wheeler sticking by his stance

We live in a constitutional republic. But NFL teams are totalitarian islands in this country where  speaking one's mind might be frowned upon by the unquestioned (and unelected) leader head coach or general manager or owner.

The Dolphins are such an island and linebacker Phillip Wheeler ventured into uncharted waters after Sunday's loss when he openly questioned the team's coaching staff for its call on the deciding Green Bay touchdown.

So did Wheeler get a big talking-to from one of the authorities on high?

"Nah," Wheeler said today. "I don't want to talk about that situation any more. We're moving past it. We're moving on to the Bears game."

If indeed Wheeler didn't get a couple of minutes on Joe Philbin's infamous couch then that would be interesting. A couple of years ago, linebacker Karlos Dansby openly disagreed with Philbin and the coaching staff on a couple of issues and both times was asked to visit the couch. Same with running back Reggie Bush.

Wheeler said he's not wanting to relitigate the entire deciding-TD situation and whether or not he should have been on tight end Andrew Quarless one-on-one. But he also said he's not retracting saying the call was not the best.

"I don't glorify it and I don't apologize for anything I said," Wheeler said. "I just don't want to talk about it much. I really don't want to talk about it."

Dolphins walking wounded at practice today

The Dolphins are back at practice now. Well, at least some of them.

The team's list of injured players -- led obviously by running back Knowshon Moreno, who today was placed on injured reserve and is out for the year -- is extensive as it has been in some time. And given that it was long last week, that's saying something.

Today defensive back Jimmy Wilson (hamstring) and center Samson Satele (right fibula) are definitely not practicing today. Left tackle Branden Albert, who suffered an elbow injury during Sunday's game but managed to return, is missing at least part of today's work. He was not practicing during the open portion of practice today.

Same with Lamar Miller and Charles Clay who also missed the open portion of practice.

I will say that Miller, Clay and Albert don't seem to be significant injuries based on the fact they were jogging and they all finished Sunday's game.

On the bright side, receiver Brandon Gibson, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury, is back on the practice field today and working at least on a limited basis.

Koa Misi, who missed four weeks with an ankle injury and was not available at the end of Sunday's game, was at practice today.

Salguero and PFF review of Packers at Miami Dolphins [Updated]

[Update: The Dolphins have placed running back Knowshon Moreno on the injured reserve list this morning. He suffered an ACL tear in a knee against the Green Bay Packers and is now out for the season. Moreno played only three games for the Dolphins and actually ran the football only once in the second game (against Buffalo) in September because he dislocated his left elbow on that lone run. He finishes the season with only 31 rushes for 148 yards. Moreno signed a one-year deal worth $3 million last offseason. His Dolphins future is obviously uncertain given his injury history. Moreno had and ACL injury cut short his season in 2011 as well.]

Moving on ...

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan followed his best game with the Dolphins (versus Oakland) with his worst game with the Dolphins (versus Green Bay). Jarvis Landry may have made his eventual move ahead of Brandon Gibson earlier than expected while Gibson rested. And Will Davis returned to the bench, perhaps closing the window on his chance to shine in 2014.

Those are some of the snapshots you can take away from the film study of Sunday's 27-24 Dolphins loss to Green Bay done by my friends at ProFootballFocus.com and some added insight by me.

As with every Tuesday following a game, the grades are in, the review is complete.

Here are the grades from @PFF and @ArmandoSalguero: 

Offensive Summary

Despite not seeing the field in the second half, Knowshon Moreno still got 23 snaps in his first action since Week 2. Starting RB Lamar Miller got 34 snaps and Damien Williams got four when Miller needed a breather in the second half.

There was zero rotation at slot wide receiver with Brandon Gibson out. Jarvis Landry logged 47 snaps, compared to five for Rishard Matthews and one for Damian Williams.

Branden Albert handled Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers in pass blocking (+2.1), but had his worst day of the season in run blocking (-1.2), in addition to picking up his first two penalties as a Dolphins player.

Passing

Both of Ryan Tannehill's interceptions came on drop-backs where the Packers did not register a pressure of any kind.

Tannehill was almost perfect when he was not blitzed, going 13-of-16 for 187 yards, although he did throw an interception. He threw both touchdowns when Green Bay brought the blitz, but was 7-of-15 overall for 60 yards and a pick as well.

Tannehill struggled getting the ball down the field again, going just 4-of-11 on passes traveling 10+ yards; and three of those four completions were inside the numbers for about 10 yards.

Rushing

The Packers would not let the Dolphins run behind Mike Pouncey. On eight total carries directed towards Pouncey or the gap between Satele and Pouncey, Miami produced just 3 yards.

All three of Tannehill's runs were of the designed variety, something Green Bay has struggled with for a few years.

Receiving

The Dolphins were able to take advantage of Jarvis Landry vs. A.J. Hawk a few times; Landry was targeted twice vs. Hawk, catching both targets for 30 yards.

Despite dropping another pass, a potentially big play, Mike Wallace saw targets against six Green Bay defensive backs.

The Dolphins did nice YAC work. They gained 167 of their 244 receiving on yards came after the catch. This tells you, in part, how horizontal the Miami offense has become. The team relies on receivers catching short to intermediate passes and making yards afterward. The long throws that Tannehill has struggled with as a professional have been shelved the past couple of games. 

It will be interesting to see if this is a temporary situation or part of the permanent plan going forward.

Defensive Summary

Cameron Wake (+2.4) and Olivier Vernon (+3.7) continue to be two of the dominant 4-3 DEs in the game, each tallying two sacks, two hits and a hurry against the GB line.

Reshad Jones handled 77 of 80 snaps in his return from suspension. Jimmy Wilson, who previously started at safety during Jones' suspension, played 60 snaps as the nickel corner, Will Davis, previously the nickel corner, didn't play a defensive snap.

With Derrick Shelby suspended, the three rookies, Anthony Johnson (10 snaps), Chris McCain (12 snaps), and Terrence Fede (16 snaps) all saw some time on the field. Shelby was reinstated by the Dolphins on Monday and will rejoin the team Tuesday. I expect the snaps for the rookies will decline.

Coverage

Cortland Finnegan was exposed by Rodgers and rookie Davante Adams for five catches on six targets for 70 yards. Finnegan also played too far off on Adams on the fake spike and failed to tackle the Green Bay receiver inbounds -- by takling the outside leg -- and thus Adams was able to slip out of bounds and keep his team alive. Finnegan tackles Adams inbounds and the game ends right there.

Brent Grimes allowed seven completions on 12 targets for 94 yards to Jordy Nelson, but held him to just 24 yards after the catch.

October 13, 2014

Miami Dolphins coaches must better recognize own players' flaws

Football in its 1951 black-and-white form has certain truisms.

Cornerbacks have to cover man to man. Wide receivers have to beat cornerbacks. Tight ends have to get open against linebackers and safeties. Offensive tackles have to block defensive ends. Linebackers have to cover tight ends.

So we're straight on that? The game, at the end of the day, is about one man trying to beat another man within the realm of 10 teammatess doing their jobs against, usually, 10 other guys in the opposing uniform.

So no one -- not me, not you, not any pundit or analyst anywhere -- can complain when a coach such aa Joe Philbin says something akin to "an offensive tackle has to block a defensive end one-on-one."

It is true. It is inarguable.

It's also true a linebacker has to be able to cover a tight end one-on-one. That is inarguable. It just is.

But the lines on these truths blur in real life amid the chaos of a game's final seconds, while the crowd is roaring and the headphone in the coach's ear is buzzing with assistants, and the pit in his stomach is threatening to become an ulcer if the bang-bang decision he's about to make doesn't work out just right.

In those (in)glorious moments, great coaches step forward, bad coaches demure and young coaches better learn quickly that some truisms cannot go unchallenged.

Where is this all going?

Last year the Miami Dolphins, under Philbin, lived and at least twice during the season died by the truism that offensive tackles must block defensive ends one-on-one. Against the Baltimore Ravens the Dolphins went by that credo and paid a heavy price when offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, asked to block Terrell Suggs and then Elvis Dumervil one-on-one, gave up untimely sacks that ultimately helped Baltimore win the game.

The very next week, the Dolphins found themselves in a similar situation and once again the coaching staff asked Clabo to block his man Mario Williams one-on-one on a couple of final pass plays in the final minutes of the game.

Once again, Clabo lost the matchup, Williams raced to the quarterback, caused a fumble and set up the Bills for a winning field goal.

Suddenly, that truism of offensive tackles having to block defensive ends one-on-one seemed, well, like so much hogwash. The real truth of real life is sometimes you have to make exceptions. Sometimes you have to come up with alternate strategies because the textbook does not apply on the field.

Humans are flawed. Players are flawed and sometimes your flawed player is simply not up to the assignment the trusim presents.

And, write this down, it is the coach's job to know what his flawed player can do. And what his flawed player cannot do.

 It is the coach's job to somehow mask or relieve his overmatched flawed player of things he cannot do. It is the coach's job to not ask his flawed player to do something experience and his eyes has shown him the flawed player cannot do.

Great coaches, in other words, throw the book of football truisms out the window when they understand their guys cannot get it done. (A corollary of this is great coaches try to press their advantage when they have superior players that cannot be blocked or covered or, as is the case with someone such as cornerback Darrelle Revis, can cover practically anyone all by himself and win consistently).

That's what a coach must do to a large degree: Know his player. Understand that player's limits. And never require that player to go beyond the bounds of that limit, particularly not in game-deciding moments.

Said another way, great coaches learn that truism are, well, stupid.

That brings me to Sunday afternoon and another truism. The Dolphins, as Joe Philbin said today, understand that linebackers must cover tight ends one-on-one. Not all the time. Not every single play. But sometimes a linebacker must cover a tight end one-on-one.

It is, what? A truism.

"Linebackers covering tight ends? Absolutely linebackers cover tight ends in practice," Philbin said today. "I do know our linebackers cover tight ends in practice."

And with six seconds to play on Sunday, with the potential game-deciding play at stake, already knowing what alignment the Packers were thinking about because they called time out specifically to spy that out, the Dolphins decided their linebacker Phillip Wheeler must cover Green Bay tight end Andrew Quarless one-on-one on the outside.

Hey, it is a truism. That's the call. That's how we roll.

Except ... wait one second.

Think.

Phillip Wheeler, every Dolphins fan, observer, booster, critic, and pundit knows, is not the best cover linebacker. He is, how to be delicate here, not long for this roster because the Dolphins overpaid for him and he's really only good at one thing and that is rushing the passer on A-gap blizes (my opinion) but definitely not at covering tight ends.

Everyone knows this. ProFootballFocus.com last year graded Wheeler a minus-8.2 for his coverage skills. He graded negatively in 10 games on pass coverage.

The Dolphins know this, too. I presume that's the reason late last year Wheeler was sharing duties with Jelani Jenkins on passing downs.

So knowing they have a flawed player ... Knowing also, by the way, that player had a broken finger a couple of weeks ago ... Knowing the Packers had initial intentions of putting their TE out wide because that's exactly what Green Bay did just prior to Miami calling time ...

The Dolphins put Wheeler one-on-one against Quarless anyway.

Because, the truism screams, linebackers have to cover tight ends one-on-one.

Well, Wheeler was beaten. It wasn't that close. Dolphins lost.

And after 952 words, I am going to make my greater point: I am not going to rip the decision to put Wheeler on Quarless 24 hours ago. That happened. It didn't work. I'm not going to rip the result, although I would have hoped Miami coaches would have known their personnel a little better.

Wheeler getting beat is a phrase I've typed before. Why would it surprise coaches?

But that's not my point. My point is to warn the Dolphins coaches. Don't do it again.

Don't come back next week against the Chicago Bears and ask Phillip Wheeler to cover Martellus Bennett one-on-one in the red zone and particularly not near the goal line. Bennett is 6-6 and 265 pounds after fasting a couple of days. He runs a 4.65 and is a mismatch nightmare for most linebackers and definitely for the smaller (6-2, 240-pound), slower (4.7) Wheeler.

All I am asking is that next time the Dolphins not put their flawed player in a position to fail rather than succeed. All I am asking is for the Dolphins maybe to get a quicker safety (Reshad Jones or Louis Delmas) on that tight end. Or get a better coverage linebacker (Jenkins) on that tight end. Or help Wheeler with a double -- don't know if that's doable inside the 5 yard line -- but certainly is further out.

All I'm asking is that the coaching staff that stuck stubbornly by its OT vs. DE one-on-one truism last year and cost the Dolphins a second loss because, again, their player wasn't up to meeting their truism vision, this time recognize this player is again not up to the challenge.

Recognize. Adapt. Adjust.

Don't let the same issue crop up a second time. Please.

Three minutes of pain that may linger

Look, there is plenty of blame to go around for the Miami Dolphins losing to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Just read this and you will see how the coaching staff, the quarterback, the so-called playoff-caliber defense, a lot of people failed in this game.

And the intriguing thing is the comments coming from players criticizing the coaches' calls or strategy that were anonymous weeks ago took a public turn when Phillip Wheeler laid out the case why he thought the play-call on the game-winning (losing) TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to tight end Andrew Quarless was a bad call.

So go to those links.

Here ...

I want to get into the final three minutes and 10 seconds of Sunday's game.

The Dolphins held a 24-20 lead with 3:10 to play when they had a first-and-10 at their own 35 yard line. The Dolphins ran Lamar Miller up the middle and gained a yard on the play. The Packers promptly called their third and final timeout with 3:05 to play.

So here is where Joe Philbin strategy came into play. His thinking?

 “Well, I’ll have to go back, but when we met as a staff, all the coordinators – we know the type of quarterback that we’re playing against – we decided," Philbin said. "I told Bill [Lazor] that we were going to do whatever we have to do to get a first down, whatever the call. I told them to be aggressive. Kevin [Coyle] knew that, Bill knew that, Darren [Rizzi] knew, everyone in the department knew that and that’s what we decided to do."

And so on second-and-nine from the 36, the Dolphins called a pass out of the shotgun formation.

I understand the logic. First, the Packers had both their starting cornerbacks out of the game. Secondly, there was that big meeting of the coaching minds that decided the team was going to be aggressive.

I understand the reason to pass. But why not a bubble screen? Or a quick slant? Something fast and safe, right?

Instead Tannehill took the snap and as he was dropping, immediately was swarmed by two blitzing defenders. So the QB threw the ball out of bounds, stopping the clock for a team that didn't have time outs.

And Philbin blames the offensive line, which was outnumbered, for the failure.

"I didn’t think we protected the quarterback very well on those plays," he said. "We have to do a much better job. But that was decided before. We knew – you have to do whatever you have to do to gain a first down. Dom [Capers] was playing coverage zero, there were eleven guys down, you executed. Again, you have to give them enough credit. They executed better."

Again, how about executing a quickie slant? Or this: Take the sack! It runs clock. Running clock at that point is a good option.

Anyway, the idea of doing whatever is necessary to gain a first down apparently didn't carry over to third down. Miller took a handoff and ran left for one yard.

So, you have this premeditated idea of moving heaven and earth to gain a first down by passing on second down but on third you go into a shell to play the clock? That does not make sense to me. Either the strategy exists or it does not.

Half-measures are for losers, folks.

If the Dolphins had not gone with the riskier strategy and simply would have run the football three times and punted they would have worked the clock more in their favor. By my calculations, they would have given the Packers the ball back with 1:50 left to play instead of 2:04.

Anywho ...

So the Packers get the ball at their 40 yard line. They gain a first down with a 12-yard run by James Starks and that takes the game to the 2 minute warning.

Then the craziness begins.

First down ... Rodgers, under much rush, throws a duck to Starks who gains one yard.

Second down ... Incomplete pass by Rodgers throwing to Quarless, who was covered one-on-one by Phillip Wheeler. Wheeler wins that one.

Third down ... The Dolphins bring great pressure from Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake and Vernon slaps the ball loose. And the fumble is on the ground. And while Brent Grimes and Chris McCain both dive for the loose ball in slow motion, Green Bay guard T.J. Lang swoops in and recovers the fumble ahead of the two Miami defenders. Call it bad luck. Call it more hustle by Lang. Whatever. The Packers are still alive. But barely. They are hanging on by the hair on an ACME Packing Plant box or something. The Dolphins are actually winning at the line. Getting pressure. The offensive players are out of sorts, trying to get lined up to get the next play off.

And that is when Philbin calls a time out!

"That's not where you want to call a timeout with Green Bay struggling," FOX color analyst John Lynch, a former NFL safety says on the broadcast.

"That decision is beyond comprehension," a Dolphins source texted me. "You could see the relief on Rodgers' face when he saw the time out."

Philbin disagrees. He thinks the time out is the perfect thing to do.

“We kind of call that ‘Kodaking," Philbin said. "What we do is we let the offense line up in a specific formation and then we want to call time-out. One time we called it on fourth down where, again, that was something we talked about. We’ve used it before in the past and I’m most concerned that our team knows what they’re going to do and how we’re going to execute the call.

"Again, you have to give Green Bay credit. They made plays. They made the play on fourth-and-ten and they made the play at the end zone to win the game. They made plays in the fourth quarter. Give them credit. But again, that’s something wasn’t just – it’s something we talk about all the time, we’ve used, again, we could argue if it was wise to do it, but that was a decision that I knew we were going to do. Wait for them to line up and then call time."

The Packers regrouped. And made the Dolphins pay for the reprieve.

Fourth down ... Rodgers is buying time when he slings a rocket to Jordy Nelson, who is wide open for an 18-yard gain because Brent Grimes fell down.

We go on. The Packers are stopped on first and second down but on third down .... Rodgers finds Starks for 10 yards and a first down. Only 30 second left as the Packers rush to the line.

Then Rodgers connects on a seemingly inconsequential four-yard pass to Randall Cobbs. Again the Packers try to rush to get lined up and Rodgers signals for a spike.

Except the Packers went with a fake spike. And on that fake spike not one Miami defensive lineman rushed the quarterback. They simply stood up out of their stance expecting an actual spike. And Davante Adams beats Cortland Finnegan for 12 yards to the Miami 4 yard line.

"I thought we could have tackled better on that play," Philbin said of Finnegan's effort. "I thought we were in a position to tackle better."

If Finnegan, who had backed off 12 yards from Adams before the play, comes up quickly and tackles Adams in-bounds, the game is over. The Fake Spike backfires.

But the smallish Dolphins corners played, well, small on Sunday -- it's not a good match for them against the Bears' Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this week, either -- and Adams easily bullied his way out of bounds to stop the clock.

So the Packers are going to have six seconds to live or die.

They come up to the line of scrimmage. They line up. And before they snap the ball, the Dolphins call time out again.

This time, Finnegan can be seen raising his arms as if questioning why Miami is calling time. And Olivier Vernon also seems to be complaining that Miami has called time.

(That makes me wonder, if coaches have made a decision this is what they're going to do and they do it often, how come it seems to surprise the players?)

Remember, this strategy is meant to help coaches and players identify what formation the Packers are using. It gives a glimpse of what Green Bay is thinking. It gives the Dolphins a chance to collect themselves.

Well, the idea of the Dolphins getting a glimpse of what Green Bay is doing goes out the window because after the game I asked Finnegan and Wheeler if they remembered what formation the Packers lined up in before the time out and whether it was similar to the formation on the game-winning play.

"That's a great question, man, but honestly I don't know," Finnegan said.

“I don’t know if they lined up in the same formation or not," Wheeler said. "If they did, someone should have let me know or something."

In fact, the Packers lined up in the very same formation after the time out as they did before the time out. So Green Bay gave the Dolphins two looks at their formation. And the Dolphins still had Wheeler matched man-on-man against Quarless on the outside.

Yeah, Aaron Rodgers is going to see that as a mismatch, like, 100 times out of 100 times.

"We knew when he checked before the play, the ball was going to come my way," Wheeler said. "I just didn’t know which route he was going to run. He checked to a passing play and we knew what his signals were a little bit. He saw it was single coverage on the outside. No help over the top or in the middle of the field. And they knew I had single coverage against the tight end most of the second half anyway.

"I played him well most of the half. On that last play it could have been better coverage.”

Quarless caught the four-yard deciding TD as Wheeler fell to the turf.

Two inconsequential seconds remained on the clock. The three minutes leading up to those final seconds had sealed Miami's fate.

“Aaron Rodgers looks like the hero," NBC analyst Rodney Harrison told America on the NBC Sunday night pregame show, "but the Dolphins really blew it."

October 12, 2014

Wheeler: Coverage and call should have been better

Miami Dolphins linebacker Phillip Wheeler was beaten by Green Bay tight end Adnrew Quarless for the deciding touchdown in today's Green Bay victory over the Dolphins.

And Wheeler is taking responsibility for that loss in a man-to-man situation.

But Wheeler is also taking issue with the call from the coaching staff, specifically defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, for putting him in that position.

“I feel like we shouldn’t have been in that situation, first of all. But we were in it and I should have been able to play it a little bit better," Wheeler said.

The linebacker blames himself for losing the one-on-one battle but also says he was put in a tough spot.

"Maybe we shouldn’t have been in that call because we were in it for a lot of the second half," Wheeler said. "He [Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers] knew what we were going to be in. We had been in it in key situations before in that situation – and it worked. He {Rodgers] didn’t throw the ball to the tight end those times."

But the last time the Dolphins were in that defense, it cost them. 

“When we lined up, [Rodgers] checked," Wheeler said. "And after he checked, me and Cortland [Finnegan] knew the ball was coming my way. Cortland was checking the guy next to me, we had double coverage on that guy and I had single coverage on my guy. It’s common sense, if you’re playing man-to-man most of that drive, and that’s a coverage we play often in the red zone.

“It’s make a play to see who wins and, like I’ve said, he’s a great quarterback. It could have been better coverage. And it could have been a better call.”  

Miami Dolphins lose to Green Bay, 27-24

This one rips the heart from the chest.

Even while it is beating.

This one seemed to belong to the Dolphins. They led 24-20 with two minutes to play when the Packers got the football for the last time.

It could have belonged to the Dolphins. And yet, the Green Bay Packers win today, 27-24.

Heartbreak.

Aaron Rodgers threw a four-yard pass to tight end Adnrew Quarless with three seconds to play to give the Packers the victory. Quarless beat Wheeler one-on-one.

This one is not a good look for Joe Philbin and his coaching staff.

There was an issue between Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle before halftime. There was questionable decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Green Bay 1 in the first quarter. Philbin went for the score, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor called a spread option. Knowshon Moreno got stuffed.

And there were questionable timeouts used as the Packers were driving. The Packers had no time out. But the Dolphins used their timeouts on defense, ostensibly to gather themselves, but also giving the Packers the chance to gather themselves as well.

In the end, the Packers apparently had a better plan.

The Dolphins fall to 2-3.

Live blog: Green Bay at Miami Dolphins

It is hot. The temperature in South Florida as I write this is 86 degrees. It is also humid.

Welcome to Miami, Packers!

I believe this will be a factor in this game -- particularly late and if the Dolphins have had success running the football against the NFL's No. 32 run defense.

We shall see.

As to the game:

Mike Pouncey is starting at right guard while Samson Satele continues his starting role at center.

Jarvis Landry starts at the slot receiver because Brandon Gibson is not active. You already know Reshad Jones is starting at safety (assuming you read this). Jelani Jenkins starts at OLB over Jason Trusnik. And Damian Williams is likely to get punt return duties.

The inactives are Gibson, Daniel Thomas, Deandre Coleman, Shelly Smith, Jason Fox, Billy Turner, and Gator Hoskins.

Knowshon Moreno is active and scheduled to get 8-10 carries, although it will depend on the flow of the game.

Finally, there is a live blog available.

Go below and hang out with other Dolphins fans:

Live Blog Miami Dolphins vs. Green Bay Packers: Oct. 12, 2014