September 22, 2014

Miami Dolphins consider QB change

The Miami Dolphins are considering a quarterback change this week.

A change is not certain but coaches are meeting this afternoon to weigh whether benching starter Ryan Tannehill in favor of reserve Matt Moore is the right decision to make in the run up to Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders, multiple sources are saying.

Coach Joe Philbin dodged multiple questions today on the topic. When asked  if Tannehill will start against the Raiders next Sunday, he declined on every single occasion to say Tannehill would continue to be Miami's quarterback.

Instead, Philbin said he and his coaches will decide on the "46 best players" to help the Dolphins win a game.

"We're going to choose the best 46 guys we think will help us win a football game and we're going to go from there," Philbin said.

I asked the coach if his refusal to answer the question directly thus leaves Tannehill twisting in the wind publicly and he stuck to his guns.

“I’m going to stick with the answer that I’ve given," Philbin said. "That’s what I’ve done since I’ve gotten here and that’s the answer I’m sticking to.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was asked if he had any doubt Tannehill would be his starter on Sunday and was more conclusive than Philbin. "No," he said before continuing, "Is there any doubt I'll be the offensive coordinator?"

But then he said, "We rent these seats ..."

So what is the truth? The Dolphins are considering a quarterback change today. If coaches deem a quarterback competition this week the right course, I suppose that will happen. Philbin was asked about such a practice competiton.

His answer?

“We are going to choose the 46 guys that we think can help us win the football game," he repeated a third time during a 10-minute press conference. "And we are going to go from there. That’s the starting point and we are going to utilize the players the best way we feel fit.”

It is also possible in considering a change, the coaches will decide sticking with Tannehill is the right course of action.

But neither decision has been made as of this moment. Tannehill may or may not start Sunday. It is no longer a given.

 

My column here: Scrutinize EVERYTHING

The Miami Herald's new website has had "organ failure" on some platforms this morning and so some stories and columns are not loading. Mine was not loading, so I am performing an organ transplant and moving my column from the game below. My column:

Everything should be on the table now.

Words to that effect came out of Joe Philbin’s mouth late Sunday evening after his team played its worst game of the season, at home no less, in losing 34-15 to a previously winless Kansas City that is a middling team in the supposedly easy part of the Miami Dolphins schedule.

“We have to look at everything we’re doing,” Philbin said Sunday after the bitterly disappointing performance by him, his coaching staff, his offense, his defense and his special teams.

And I agree with the Dolphins head coach.

Everything should indeed be on the table and under scrutiny now because otherwise this season, which is starting to look like most other unfruitful, unfulfilling seasons the Dolphins have played the past decade or so, is going absolutely nowhere.

So in searching for an elusive answer, everything must be questioned.

The Dolphins should seriously study benching Ryan Tannehill. I’m not saying they should do it, but after three weeks of hot and cold play from the quarterback, the coaching staff should not simply start Tannehill as if by rote, because that’s what they’ve been doing.

Coaches had better be certain Tannehill is better suited to run this offense than Matt Moore. And they had better be ready to explain why because Tannehill’s performances are offering a heavy counter balance to the idea his status cannot be questioned.

Gathering a kindling and setting on fire the hot seat under Philbin should also beon the table because this was the kind of uneven performance against a winless team that sets people on the road to being fired.

Joe Philbin is a good man. He’s very organized. He knows football. But that’s all resume stuff for someone before he’s hired.

Once he’s hired, his team’s play and his winning percentage is the coach’s resume. And right now Philbin’s team is playing inconsistently and unimpressively after starting the season in such promising fashion. In that regard, this team is showing us in microcosm what it showed in macro the last couple of years.

Win three, lose four, win one, lose two, win one, lose one, win three, and lose one.

Inconsistent.

Barely mediocre.

The Dolphins coaching staff should be thinking of finally digging into the playbook and pulling out that up-tempo offense that was promised in training camp but so far hasn’t made it to the regular-season field. Going to that needs to be on the table.

The only time the Dolphins showed any alacrity and Tannehill seemed truly in charge of the game Sunday was when offensive coordinator Bill Lazor unleashed the two-minute drill before the end of the half. The offense seemed to have the Chiefs on their heels.

So did they keep the Chiefs on their heels to open the second half by using the same attack style? Nope.

Getting this defense, which seems talented enough to succeed but succeeds only enough to break your heart, changed has to be on the table. This is on defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.

Coyle is under the microscope because this is his third season with basically the same group of players. And that group that coaches thought are good enough to win with has not gotten collectively better. Indeed, this defense is in worse shape than when Coyle found it.

This defense was a Top 5 scoring defense defense in 2011 B.C. (Before Coyle). Three years later, the Dolphins are the No. 29 scoring defense so far this season.

Cutting people. Adding people. Coaching them differently. Coaching them better. Trades. Examining the unorthodox...

It should all be on the table.

Why?

Because this team needs to change direction immediately. And Philbin knows it.

“We’re not playing well enough the last two weeks to win a game in the National Football League,” the coach said.

The Dolphins are actually not playing well enough to stay within two touchdowns of their last two opponents. And more disturbing, they’re not approaching games correctly at the start.

The Dolphins have trailed at halftime of every game this year. They were down by 10 at halftime to New England before recovering. They were down by nine at halftimevto Buffalo before wilting. They were down by 11 to Kansas City before losing.

So players are not well prepared enough or they’re not coming to work with a proverbial hair-on-fire attitude. Either way, it is not good.

“It’s no need to panic,” cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “I would tell the fans not to panic. We are going to get it right, we are going to fix it.”

Wrong.

Panic because this team is playing like past Dolphins teams we’ve seen before and those guys told us not to panic and be patient and never fixed the problem before the season was over. So this is no time for patience and believe that things will get better by merely maintaining course.

This is a time for action.

This is a time to look at everything.

Bench Ryan Tannehill? Study the possibility

On the bright side, Ryan Tannehill didn't miss any deep throws today. The Dolphins didn't really try but one but at least there wasn't that troubling moment where he overthrows an open receiver. That's the good news.

The bad news is Tannehill is on pace for career lows in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating. That according to the math skills of The Herald's Adam Beasley.

Me? I'm right up to the line but not ready to pull the trigger on a quarterback change. Consider it at least, I say in my column in Monday's newspaper.

I also discuss ways to deal with the head coach, the offense, the defense, the lack of consistency, in short many of the problems that have the Dolphins at 1-2 now.

Please read the column.

Anyway, this is what Tannehill had to say Sunday afterward:

(What was the most frustrating part of the performance today?) – “I thought we struggled all game. The most frustrating part was [that it was a] five point game in the fourth quarter and we didn’t come out on top. Do I feel confident at that point that we were going to win the game? And even when they scored again, I still felt like we had a shot. We just didn’t get it done.”

(What do you suspect is behind the slow starts in all three games you’ve had this year?) – “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s one thing. If you look back at New England, the turnovers slowed us down but we were moving the ball. Last week [against Buffalo] we didn’t get anything going and we had a slow start again this week so we’ve got to figure it out .”

(What happened on that drive where I think you were down six with second and one and then third and one? What was the thinking on that third and one? ) – “It was a play-action pass. We played it exactly like we thought we were going to play it. I had two crossers and no one was able to win so I was trying to buy some time and get a run through and I got sacked.”

(Did you see your check down, Daniel (Thomas) may have slipped a little, did you see him at all?) – “He’s supposed to be over the ball so I didn’t see him.”

(Are you worried now that its been three games in a row that you have not been at your top offensively? Are you worried that it’s not just one thing and it’s tough to overcome all of the mistakes you’ve made as a team?) – “Yes, I mean when you’re not getting things done, obviously it’s frustrating and it needs to be corrected. It’s still early in the season so I have confidence that we can get this thing turned around. But it has to happen now. I said that last week and we didn’t get it done. We’ve got another shot at it. We are going across the ocean play a big game in London for us and heading into the bye week. So we’ve have to be 2-2 at that point.”

(Is it the offensive system that’s still just not working? That’s it’s ultimately new (offensive system) for you guys, is that a factor at all?) – “I don’t think so. I think we had our opportunities to make plays. I think we rushed the ball decently well the entire game. [We] had opportunities in the passing game. Just couldn’t put the whole thing together.”

(If there were one or two things that you feel needs to be fixed or be improved; seems like a lot of things but what are some things specifically?) – “I think we need to keep the run game going and make the plays outside when we have the chance. Whether it’s a throw or it’s a drop or it’s protection. All those things are culminating right now and we’ve got to get them corrected.”

(Do you feel that in part of the game that you’re getting a real rhythm and it’s just not consistent enough?) – “It was a couple of drives where I felt like we were getting into a rhythm and then there was a penalty or something that would slow us down and take us out of our rhythm. We’ve got to be able to sustain that and sustain a long drive and we didn’t do that all night.”

(You were 4-of-15 on third down and that’s kind of an area where you’ve done well in past years. What do you think are some of the issues that are going on right now?) – “I don’t know, I’ve got to go take a look at the tape and get a clearer picture of it. I can’t tell you at this point.”

(Before the half you had a good drive down the field but there were two plays that took [around] :55 seconds. Did you feel like the time was getting away? I know you only had one timeout) – “We only had one timeout and Coach (Joe Philbin) said hang on to it as long as you can so I was letting him manage that. I know we took a long time on a couple of plays and we just got to get up and get set faster. I felt like we had plenty of time to go down and get a touchdown. We moved it down the field. We just didn’t put it in. If we had five more seconds, we would have took a shot at the end zone and hopefully scored.  But it didn’t happen.”

(How does this football team regroup and get themselves headed in the direction that you need to head in?) – “We just have to take a step back, take a deep breath and look at it for what it is. Fix the things that need to get fixed across all phases of football team. We’re not playing well as a team right now. We’re not complimenting each other on [both] sides of the ball [and] special teams. We need to get that corrected and we need to correct it fast.”

(It seems like in all phases of the game, offense, special teams, defense; a lot of good things that you could look at but on the flip side that were things that were done that didn’t help you win a football game) – “You’ve got to be consistent. That’s the NFL. You’ve got to make the plays. The other team is going to make plays. You just have to be able to make plays consistently and we didn’t do that.”

(The third-and-one situation; Can you take us through that? What you saw or what you didn’t see that you were you trying to get to) – “Play-action, two-man route. They covered us up pretty well. I was trying to buy some time and got sacked.”

(Is the confidence still there with the team? Or has it taken a little bit of a hit?) – “Obviously when you don’t play well you don’t feel good about it. But I’m still confident in the guys in that [locker] room that we can get it turned around. I like the guys that we have. I think we can win a lot of games with the guys in that locker room but we have to do it ASAP. We have to look at what it is and get the problems fixed now.”

(You came out in Buffalo in the second half and the first two drives were scoring drives in the hurry up. At the end of the first half [you were in] the hurry up and went all of the way down the field. Are you more comfortable in something like that? When you’re in the no-huddle or is that just a few drives?) – “I like it. I like playing in the no-huddle. I like getting the defense on their heels a little bit. At the same time we went no-huddle, I think it was in the third quarter and we didn’t move the ball at all. You have to be able to move the ball if you’re going to go no-huddle. Otherwise you put your defense in a bad spot.”

(What would you say to fans who think that this might be another Dolphins disappointing season and why should they have confidence its going to be better) – “It’s a long season. We’re only three games in. We have some problems right now but we have to correct it and correct it fast. We have some time to do that. Big game, like I said, traveling this week and then the bye week. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of football in front of us. We’re not giving up yet. No chance we’re giving up yet. We’ve got the players to do it. We just have to do it.”

(You and (Wide Receiver) Mike Wallace had issues getting the deep ball connected today. How do you move forward to fix that?) – “I don’t think we had an issue. I think we only threw one pass deep [and there was] a collision. I had to skip the pocket, he had a double move and the guy [collided with] him. Thought we could get a pass interference if I put it, the safety was coming across the top when I scrambled. I’m not going to throw a pick in that situation but since I was out of the pocket, the defense is allowed to contact the receiver and we didn’t get the call.”

September 21, 2014

Philbin: No excuse for Hartline penalty

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was quite unhappy about Brian Hartline's golf putt celebration after his third quarter touchdown Sunday.

Down 14-3, the Dolphins got the ball at the Kansas City 19 yard line on a fumble recovery by Derrick Shelbyfour plays later quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a 1-yard TD pass to Brian Hartline. But Hartline immediately doused the flame of his own signature moment  by picking up a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because he and a group of other teammates celebrated with a golf putt re-enactment.

The act was considered an orchestrated celebration.

That is a no-no. It has been against the rules for years, dating back to the Fun Buch celebrations by the Washington Redskins.

So the Dolphins kick off from their 20 instead of their 35. The Chiefs, riddled with poor field position most of the game, take advantage by starting at their 34 and then marching 66 yards in 10 plays for a 21-10 lead.

So the Dolphins were within a whisker after the Hartline touchdown and then someone does something uncalled for and the defense droops in the face of Kansas City’s constant dinking and dunking.

“I can’t make any excuses,” Philbin said of the Hartline penalty. “ I’m disappointed. I’m extremely disappointed. It’s uncharacteristic of us. I don’t think we’ve had one [before]. It’s a poor reflection on me. It’s not good.”

Miami Dolphins lose to Chiefs: Terrible

There is nothing about this loss that offers hope that this season can be salvaged.

The Chiefs were winless coming into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. And the Chiefs left South Florida with their first win, a 34-15 pasting that had Miami fans leaving early. The ones who stayed past the four-minute mark left in the game, sadly a minority, booed their own team.

The offense was inconsistent today. It showed an ability to run the ball. It did good work in the two-minute drill before halftime.

But it scored one TD. One.

And that came after the offense got the ball at the K.C. 19 yard line to start its drive.

The defense was inconsistent. It kept the team in it with a safety and the Chiefs had a handful of three-and-outs. But the Chiefs dinked and dunked (much like Buffalo did last week) their way to 34 points -- the most allowed by Miami all season.

Look, I know you are Dolphins fans. I know you want to believe things will improve. I know you want to defend your coach. I know you want to believe you have an elite quarterback.

Things being on their present course, I don't see how any of that is possible.

And you have to understand the Chiefs did this without Eric Berry on defense or Jamaal Charles on offense -- arguably their best players on each side.

This is the kind of uneven performance, at home, against a winless team, that puts kindling underneath a coach's seat and sets a flame aglow.

The hotseat is officially smoking under Joe Philbin, folks.

Live blog: Chiefs at Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins and Chiefs will be going at it in a few and I am live at Sun Life Stadium. It is an overcast, warm day but I expect the Dolphins locker room after the game to be cheerful as I think the Dolphins will beat the Chiefs.

By the way, I'm 0-2 on the season.

The Dolphins are celebrating an all aqua day here. The first 65,000 fans in the stadium will get an aqua t-shirt. The team, however, will be wearing its traditional all white home uniforms.

The inactives for Miami are:

C Mike Pouncey, LB Jordan Tripp, G Shelley Smith, G Billy Turner, DL Terrence Fede and LB Koa Misi. There was optimism last week that Misi might be able to play this game. He did not progress as much as the team had hoped. Next week, then.

As for the starting lineup, Dallas Thomas is expected to start at right guard. Jason Trusnik starts at middle linebacker, Jelani Jenkins starts at outside linebacker again.

For the Chiefs, Jamaal Charles is inactive.

Enjoy the live blog below:

Live Blog Miami Dolphins vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Sept. 21, 2014
 

Salguero's OL improvement, predicting KC game, keys

I'm picking the Miami Dolphins over the Kansas City Chiefs today. It means nothing because I'm 0-2 so far this year, having picked Miami to lose against New England and beat Buffalo.

What can I say, I'm better at writing than prognosticating. (Not by a lot, I know, smart alecks).

I'm also pretty good with ideas sometimes and in my column in today's Miami Herald I tell you how the Dolphins can put their five best offensive lineman on the field at the same time once Mike Pouncey is fully recovered from his hip surgery and returns to the lineup.

Interestingly, my idea is one Pouncey told me he is open-minded about although it would require some sacrifice from him.

So check out the column.

As for today's game against the Chiefs, here are the keys to the game:

When the Chiefs pass the football: Alex Smith has never played against the Dolphins despite being in his 10th NFL season. And the quarterback the Dolphins will see for the first time is having a hard time so far this season after posting a good season with the Chiefs last year. Smith has had very little protection from an offensive line that has been rebuilt. That line lost three starters to free agency. Eric Fisher, who was the No. 1 overall pick a year ago but is moving from the right to left tackle for the first time, has not been good. Behind shaky protection (six sacks in two games) Smith’s accuracy has suffered. The Chiefs do have a very good tight end corps, led by former Dolphin Anthony Fasano, that also includes Travis Kelce, who leads the team with an 18.6 yard per catch average. Fasano has caught a TD pass in 4 of the past 6 games. The Dolphins had a great pass rush in week one vs. New England but did not muster a sack against Buffalo last week. They want to get back to their New England level of performance. The Dolphins are also making some changes in the secondary. Will Davis, who has been inconsistent the first two weeks, is headed back to the bench. Jimmy Wilson, who started at safety the first two games, may still do that. But he will be at corner in the nickel replacing Davis. That means Michael Thomas is getting a lot of work, and perhaps even a start today, at safety. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Chiefs run the football: That sound you’re hearing is the Miami defense exhaling because Jamaal Charles, one of the most explosive runners in the NFL, has an ankle injury and is questionable for the game. He is a game-time decision. But regardless of whether Charles can play, Knile Davis will carry more of the running game than usual. Davis isn’t fast like Charles, but he is bigger (227 pounds) and more physical. The Chiefs were the 22nd ranked running team with Charles. And the 4.2 yards per rush is helped by the fact Smith has averaged 7.1 yards per rush, mostly on scrambles. The Dolphins are middle of the road against the rush. They’re ranked 13th in the NFL while allowing an average of 101 yards per game. The key to having any success against the Dolphins, however, is patience. That’s because teams are averaging only three yards per rush against Miami and that means the Dolphins are tied for fourth in the NFL in that category. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Dolphins pass the football: The Miami passing game is not in synch for one reason or another. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has strung together four sub par games dating back to the final two games last season. Receivers are not consistently running precise routes. The interior offensive line has been inconsistent, particularly in pass protection. It’s just not been very good, which is one reason the Dolphins are 31st (next to last) in the NFL with a 5.17 yards per attempt average. But Mike Wallace is playing well. He consistently gets open deep and has 6 TD catches in the past 8 games. The Chiefs pass defense has been, how to put it delicately, atrocious. Opposing QBs are completing 72.9 percent of their passes. They’ve allowed five TD passes and have zero interceptions. Opposing QBs have a 126.9 rating against K.C. so far. That’s really good. -- for the opposing quarterbacks. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Dolphins run the football: Knowshon Moreno is out and that hands the reins to the Dolphins running game to Lamar Miller who is clearly not as good instinctively as Moreno and doesn’t run downhill as much as Moreno. Making the handoff a bit more cringe worthy is that a sore ankle slows Miller some. The interesting question comes in what the Dolphins do behind Miller. Wisdom suggests the carries will go to rookie Damien Williams who has 22 runs so far this year and has averaged 4.8 yards per rush. The question here is whether exposing Williams to more primetime playing time will be too big a stage for the rookie. That’s where the lesser possibility of giving recently re-signed Daniel Thomas work could factor. Thomas is not a better runner than Williams. But he’s more experienced. The Dolphins will go with Williams. We’ll see how that works. The Chiefs have a solid front seven, which belies the fact they are yielding 125 yards per game. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Special teams: The Dolphins last week had a punt blocked when Damien Williams declined to block his man. They muffed a punt. They yielded a 102-yard kickoff return touchdown. And to top it off, usually reliable punter Brandon Fields sliced not one but two punts off his foot to give Buffalo good field position. After a solid game against New England, this was a meltdown and one that cannot be forgotten unless the Miami special teams redeem themselves. For the Chiefs, rookie kicker Cairo Santos, an undrafted rookie free agent acquisition, has missed two of his four field goals so far with both of those misses inside 50 yards. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Coaching: Andy Reid turned Chiefs around last season as they went from a team that had the No. 1 overall pick based on their record in 2012 to a playoff team that won 11 games. Unfortunately, Reid has not stopped turning the team around, as they are now winless. This game tests the coach’s mettle as his team faces an urgent situation, on the road, against an arguably more talented team. Joe Philbin has to find a way to get the Dolphins started more quickly as Miami has trailed at halftime of both games it has played. Dolphins coaches this week have tried to address issues with the passing game, the interior offensive line and with the nickel defense. ADVANTAGE: Even.

September 19, 2014

Eagles were interested in Jordan in offseason, but now?

Not long after Dennis Hickey became general manager of the Miami Dolphins he got a phone call from the Philadelphia Eagles. They were interested in making a trade for Dion Jordan.

The Dolphins were not interested.

It was a short conversation and that was that. Reports that the Dolphins were actively shopping Jordan (and others) were not correct. But one team -- the Eagles -- were indeed interested in the third overall selection of the 2013 draft.

And so they reached out to Miami.

The reasons the Eagles were interested?

Jordan was a great prospect. He's 6-6 and 250 pounds and can run like a gazelle. He can cover tight ends and attack the pass pocket. He can be a 3-4 OLB or a strongside linebacker in the 4-3 or, as the Dolphins are attempting, can also be a 4-3 defensive end -- although the last position is not as natural for him. 

The reasons the Dolphins weren't interested in parting ways with Jordan?

It would involve severe cap implications to trade him. They weren't likely to get an equal return on their draft investment on Jordan as the third overall selection in the 2013 draft -- a first and second rounder pick. And all that was true about Jordan as a prospect for Philadelphia remained true for the Dolphins.

There's also the fact Miami's best pass-rusher, Cameron Wake, is 32 years old and has only two more years remaining on his contract. Jordan is 24 years old. He is supposed to be the future. 

So there was logic in the Dolphins showing no interest in moving Jordan.

But ...

You think the Dolphins wish they could have a do-over on this opportunity?

If they had known then what they know now about Jordan, I'm thinking that phone call with the Eagles might have gone a lot longer. And it might have led to more phone calls. And a trade.

That's because right now Dion Jordan -- who has tested once for banned amphetemines and once for so-called street drugs since March -- is serving what will eventually amount to a six-game suspension. The suspension is costing him $1,653,358.50. But it is also costing him his reputation such as it is.

Jordan is fighting drug demons that have haunted his family in the past.

And he has proven very little on the field.

No. He is not a bust as many fans are shouting at the top of their lungs. One does not categorize a player who had his rookie season detoured by shoulder injuries and his second season seemingly derailed by two drug suspensions as a bust.

He is, I remind you, only 24 years old.

But the benefit of the doubt is now gone for Jordan. The burden of proof is now heavier because he must not only prove that he can play (which he has not) but that he can stay clean (which so far he has not done, either).

So what to do?

Well, it is doubtful whatever wholesale offer the Dolphins were getting for Jordan before is still on the table. That window of opportunity is closed. In the offseason the team may or may not try to deal Jordan but, again, no one will pay what Miami did to get him.

Jordan's value is limited now.

Will the Eagles be interested in the future? No idea.

I suppose it all depends on what Jordan does with the 10 games when he returns from his suspension(s). If he's a great player and a clean player, the Dolphins would likely keep him.

If he's not ... they'll probably wish they had listened to the Eagles last offseason.

Jordan suspended (again) until Oct. 20

The Miami Dolphins announced Dion Jordan has been suspended again.

This from an NFL spokesperson: "Per the terms of the Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances that took effect on Wednesday, the four-game suspension previously imposed on Dion Jordan of the Miami Dolphins has been lifted.

"However, Jordan now has been suspended without pay for the next four games of the 2014 NFL season for violating the NFL's Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse. He will be eligible to return to the Dolphins' active roster on Monday, October 20 following the team’s October 19 game against the Chicago Bears."

So as a matter of fact, Jordan had two positive tests. The first was supposed to be wiped clean when the NFL, under its new drug policy implemented this week, issued amnesty in effect to players who tested positive for certain amphetemines prior to March 11. But Jordan was then popped for another test, which picked up a postive for a so-called street drug of some sort.

It must be said that Jordan's family has a history of battling drug abuse. And now he is fighting that fight as well.

Not good.

“I am currently undergoing treatment to address my situation," Jordan said in a statement. "I am working hard to become a better man and to make better choices in the future. I am especially looking forward to returning to the team.  I also want to thank my family, coach Philbin and the Miami Dolphins organization for their support."

The Dolphins are not happy at all, I'm told, about not having their defensive player. But they are encouraged he's trying to get help. Jordan has spent time in a treatment facility.

“We were informed that Dion’s suspension for performance enhancing drugs was lifted, however, we also learned that he has been suspended four games for violating the Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances," the coach said. " While we were disappointed to learn of this result, we support Dion for proactively taking steps to voluntarily seek treatment to better himself.

"We will continue to support and work with him as he takes advantage of all available resources during this time.”

Jordan has not been paid his salary for the two weeks he was already suspended and he will not be paid for the next four week, either.

Tannehill...PFF...KC's (troubled) pass D...signature stats

So I've had an exchange of ideas with my contacts at ProFootballFocus.com this week. They believe Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is grading out very well so far this season. I don't sit down and give metrics grades week after week, so the PFF guys have me there.

But I have eyes, and as I write in my column in today's Miami Herald and I simply don't agree that Tannehill has played well -- definitely not well enough under any criterion to be the No. 3 graded QB in the NFL now.

PFF's Sam Monson saw my column as a "takedown piece" on his website. He said I bashed his site.

Look, I have an opinion and I shared it. That is my job. I am a columnist. But bashing? That was not Salguero bashing, trust me. As I wrote and repeat here, my opinion that PFF is misguided on its Tannehill grades does not mean I dismiss PFF as a valuable tool for seeing what independent analysts think of what's happening on the field after they conduct a film review of games.

I encourage you to visit ProFootballFocus.com and get a subscription to their best content.

But I also warn you that it is not the Gospels.

And so I continue to trust what I have seen in covering this team versus what that grade is yelling at me to believe -- that Tannehill is a Top 5 QB and has been that for quite some time.

Having said all that, I believe the Dolphins meeting with Kansas City on Sunday is a wonderful opportunity for Tannehill and, indeed, the entire Miami pass offense to get well. That's because the Chiefs are troubled in their pass defense right now.

Quarterbacks are completing 72.9 percent of their passes against K.C. so far this season. They've yielded five touchdown passes without an interception. The passer rating of opposing quarterbacks against the Chiefs so far this year is 126.9.

Oh, and outstanding safety Eric Berry hasn't practiced all week because he has an ankle injury.

I'm telling you this is a grand opportunity to throw the football because, if nothing else, the Chiefs are not good in pass defense.

“I don’t know about that," Tannehill said. "I see some guys that are talented on their defense. They have good pass rushers up front. They want to get pressure on the quarterback, they bring some exotic blitzes on third down. If they’re able to get to the quarterback, then they can force them into making bad decisions and throwing the ball downfield where it shouldn’t be. We have to do a good job of protecting up front and letting our receivers on the outside win. I like our receiver matchups no matter who we are playing against. I expect that we have the talent on the outside that can get open and win. It’s just a matter of having time to give them the ball."

Fine, but what's he really going to say in public? "I'm going to riddle this defense like everyone else has?"

Anyway, to show that the relationship with my friends at ProFootballFocus.com continues, despite our obvious disagreement on Tannehill's play the past 12 months or so, let me share with you some signature statistics they shared with me relative to Sunday's game:

K.C. quarterback Alex Smith has attempted eight passes of 20+ yards downfield this season; three have been completed, three fell incomplete, and two have been intercepted. So he's not had much success throwing deep.

In his 41 passing down snaps, running back Knile Davis has been asked to block just twice.

Kansas City’s makeshift offensive line has allowed the most pressure in the league through two weeks, with 32 total pressures.

Defensive end Justin Houston is rushing the passer almost exclusively from the left side of the defense, but he’s only doing it in fewer than 60% of his snaps, which is the second lowest among qualifying 3-4 OLBs.

Safety Ron Parker played 18 snaps in coverage after Eric Berry left last week’s game, allowing two catches for 17 yards on two targets.

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September 18, 2014

Injury report here: Chiefs at Miami Dolphins

Today's injury report is out.

It doesn't look good for Koa Misi to make his return versus Kansas City after all, as he has not practiced all week.

Jamaal Charles was indeed limited for the Chiefs in practice today. Just as significantly, safety Eric Berry, that team's defensive quarterback per se, has not been able to practice due to an ankle injury this week.

 

Charles practicing at least on limited basis for KC

Jamaal Charles suffered what is believed and has been reported to be a high ankle sprain last week. He was supposed to be out for the Sunday game against the Dolphins.

Except Charles was on the practice field today ...

...Like, working.

 

Charles playing would not be the best for the Dolphins. He is an elite back and obviously superior to Knile Davis, who was expected to be the Chiefs' main ballcarrier, assuming Charles did not play. Charles rushed for 1,287 yards in 15 games last season and 1,509 in 2012.

Assuming Charles now has improved enough to actually play some on Sunday, that is not only a lift for the Chiefs from a talent perspective -- because even a lessened Charles may be pretty good -- but from an emotional perspective as well.

So can he do it? Can someone come back from a high ankle sprain in less than a week?

Miami Dolphins OT problems seem solved so far

The Miami Dolphins still have an offensive line problem because the quarterback is getting sacked and the Pro Bowl center is still not playing (probably back by the Sept. 28 game vs. Oakland in London) and the running game has been hit and miss.

So football being a team sport and the offensive line being one unit, everyone says the Dolphins still have an offensive line problem.

But that is not entirely accurate.

The Dolphins do not have an offensive tackle problem right now.

Yes, the OTs are part of the unit and so they get lumped in with everyone else. But not here. Here I try to be a little more nuanced and, as the blog name says, in depth.

And left tackle Branden Albert and right tackle Ja'Wuan James are so far playing well. How well?

The Dolphins have played two games. Both men have gotten positive grades internally within the organization for both games.

And in understanding that you must have perspective on the depth (there goes the blog name again) of the problem these two guys are so far solving.

Remember 2013? Yeah, forgettable especially for the offensive line because of 58 sacks and blowup dolls and trays being thrown on the lunchroom floor and people going AWOL and the harassment scandal and the running game so inconsistent that third-and-one was a passing down.

Well, the truth is a lot of the line's on-field problems happened at the tackle positions. Indeed, a majority of the on-field issues happened at tackle.

The team did give up 58 sacks and the three tackles gave up 27 of those -- with Tyson Clabo yielding 13, Bryant McKinnie giving up seven and Jonathan Martin giving up seven in his shortened stint.

The Baltimore loss? Clabo. He gave up two sacks on consecutive plays late in the game that forced Miami to punt the ball away. The Ravens then drove for the winning field goal and afterward Clabo blamed himself for the loss.

The Buffalo loss at home? Clabo again. Mario Williams won consecutive one-on-one matchups against Clabo to record two sacks, including a strip sack that set up the Bills for their eventual game-winning field goal.

So It was on the tackles a lot last year.

And that's the reason the Dolphins poured so many resources into the position this year. General Manager Dennis Hickey paid Branden Albert $46 million over five years with $25 million guaranteed to sign as a free agent.

And so far, Albert has lived up to the contract. He has not allowed a sack this season. Not in the preseason. Not in the first two games of the regular season. That's why he's highly rated by metrics services and anyone with eyes.

"That’s cool," Albert said, "but, I’ve still got to do better to help this team. So I’m going to keep striving to do that. I’m not worried about what people think of me. I’m going to worry about what my teammates, coaches and fan base think of how I’m playing. So that’s all I worry about."

(Newsflash: Players, coaches and the fanbase are people, too).

Anyway, Hickey also invested his first round draft pick on Ja"Wuan James. And James got the requisite four-year deal worth $8.4 million with $4.45 as a signing bonus. Worth every penny so far.

James has started at right tackle from day one and has only given up one sack this season. But ... The sack came Sunday against Buffalo when Mario Williams got to Tannehill. But if you look at the play, the problem started when Shelley Smith lost the one-on-one match with his man who then wrapped himself around Tannehill. The Miami quarterback shed that attempted sack and stumbled straight into Williams who was still locked up with James. 

Williams gets the sack. James gives up the sack. But not really.

“I would say he spent a fair amount of time one-on-one against him," coach Joe Philbin said of James matching up against Williams. "I thought he played well. I think in both games he’s played pretty well. He’s got a lot of things to work on and improve, but again I think if you are going to play offensive tackle in the National Football League, at some point in time, you have to demonstrate the ability you can block a defensive end one-on-one. He certainly wasn’t perfect. He’s got a long way to go, but there are some good pictures on film if you study the tape of him blocking whoever lines up against him. It was encouraging."

Considering last year, absolutely.

Perhaps it is too early to declare the Dolphins' offensive tackle problems solved. But so far so good.  

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September 17, 2014

Reshad Jones joins Jordan, remains on suspended list

Reshad Jones isn't coming back early, either.

The Miami Dolphins safety will not have his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs lifted this week, despite earlier reports by some media, even as the NFL and NFL Players Association today are expected to announce a new policy, The Miami Herald has learned.

[Update: A source close to Jones confirms now that he's been told he's not returning early.]

Jones remains on the suspended list along with teammate Dion Jordan, about whom The Herald reported Tuesday would also not have his suspension lifted.

So why are the two Dolphins players still suspended while other players around the NFL, such as Denver receiver Wes Welker and Dallas safety Orlando Scandrick, are being informed they can report to work as early as Wednesday?

The players under the performance enhancing substance policy suspensions being allowed back before their suspensions run their course tested positive in the offseason for amphetemines, which under the old drug policy were treated the same as performance enhancers thus were subject to the same four-game suspension upon the first positive test.

Those players' offseason amphetemine positive tests now are dealt with differently under the new drug policy.

Now, players testing positive for amphetemines in the offseason will be remanded to the recreational drug policy which allows for extra testing and counseling upon a first positive test but not a suspension.

Inseason positives for amphetemines will be treated same as before -- meaning there will be suspensions upon a first positive test result.

The fact neither Jones nor Jordan fall under the group who tested positive for amphetemines and will remain suspended suggests they tested positive for something other than amphetemines.

Both Jordan and Jones can return to the Dolphins on Sept. 29 -- one day after the team plays its fourth game of the season. The Dolphins will play Kansas City this weekend and Oakland on Sept. 28 before the players are allowed to return.

September 16, 2014

Zach Thomas, Jimmy Johnson nominated for HOF

Three former Miami Dolphins players, including linebacker Zach Thomas, plus former coach Jimmy Johnson are among the 113 modern-era candidates nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

Thomas, who played with the Dolphins from from 1996-07 and was the team's leading tackler 10 seasons, was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro selection five times. Thomas finished his career with 1,100 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 17 interceptions.

Thomas is joined on the list of nominated players by former Dolphins cornerback Troy Vincent and fellow linebacker Junior Seau.

Seau, a first-year eligible candidate, played with the Dolphins from 2003-05 and is most recognized for his outstanding career with the San Diego Chargers before coming to Miami. Vincent was selected by the Dolphins in the first round of the 1992 draft. He played only four of his 15 NFL seasons with the Dolphins before he went to Philadelphia as a free agent.

Vincent nonetheless collected 14 of his 47 career interceptions with Miami.

Johnson is best known for his days with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-93. His Dallas teams won two Super Bowls under Johnson and the team he helped put together went back and won the Super Bowl in 1995 under Barry Switzer.

In Miami from 1996 through January of 2000, Johnson didn't experience that height of success. He was 36-28 (.563 winning percentage) with the Dolphins in the regular season and 2-3 in the playoffs. He did, however, take the Dolphins to the playoffs in three of his four seasons.

Johnson was also the architect of the Miami teams that gained postseason berths into the early 2000s. As the coach and general manager in Miami, Johnson was responsible for drafting Thomas in the fifth round, and Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison in the second round.

Johnson's best pick, however, was defensive end Jason Taylor who was picked in the third round of the 1997 draft.

Johnson's career coaching record is 80-64 (.556 winning percentage).

The complete list of modern-era candidates for the Class of 2015 consists of 113 nominees. From that list, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee -- of which I am a member -- will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalist nominees that will be announced in late November. That semifinalist list will be further reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists and announced in early January.

The Class of 2015 will be selected from the list of the 15 modern-era finalists plus the one senior finalist (former Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff) selected last month by the Hall of Fame’s Senior Selection Committee, and two yet-to-be-determined Contributor finalists who will be selected by the Hall of Fame’s Contributor Selection Committee.

The senior finalist and contributor finalists will be voted yes or no for election at the Annual Selection Meeting. Like the modern-era finalists, the senior and contributor nominees must receive an 80 percent positive vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

The actual voting for the Class of 2015 will be conducted at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s annual meeting, which will be held in Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 the day before Super Bowl 49.

The complete list of modern-era nominees for the Class of 2015:

Quarterbacks: (4) – Randall Cunningham, Rich Gannon, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner.

Wide Receivers: (9) – *Tim Brown (also KR), Isaac Bruce, Gary Clark, Henry Ellard (also PR), *Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Sterling Sharpe, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith.

Tight End: (1) – Mark Bavaro

Running Backs: (14) – Ottis Anderson, Shaun Alexander, Tiki Barber, *Jerome Bettis, Roger Craig, Stephen Davis, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Jamal Lewis, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters.

Offensive Linemen: (23) – Willie Anderson (T), Tony Boselli (T), Jeff Bostic (C), Lomas Brown (T), Jim Covert (T), Bill Fralic (G/T), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Joe Jacoby (T), Jon Jansen (T), Mike Kenn (T), Jim Lachey (T), Kevin Mawae (C/G), Mark May (G/T/C),Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Orlando Pace (T), Chris Samuels (T), Mark Schlereth (G), *Will Shields (G), Tra Thomas (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).

Defensive Linemen: (12) – Al “Bubba” Baker (DE), Jerome Brown (DT), Carl Hairston (DE/DT), *Charles Haley (also LB), Jevon Kearse (DE), Dexter Manley (DE), Charles Mann (DE), Steve McMichael (DT/NT), Fred Smerlas (NT), Greg Townsend (DE), Ted Washington (DT/NT), Bryant Young (DE).

Linebackers: (13) – Zach Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, *Kevin Greene (also DE), Ken Harvey, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Karl Mecklenburg, Matt Millen, Sam Mills, Junior Seau, Chris Spielman, Darryl Talley.

Defensive Backs: (16) – Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Thomas Everett (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), *John Lynch (S), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Frank Minnifield (CB), Shawn Springs (CB), Troy Vincent (CB/S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S).

Kickers/Punters: (5) – *Morten Andersen (K), Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Sean Landeta (P), Nick Lowery (K).

Special Teams/Position Players: (2) – Brian Mitchell (RB/PR/KR), Steve Tasker (also WR).

Coaches: (14) – Jimmy Johnson, Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, *Tony Dungy, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Richie Petitbon, Dan Reeves, Lou Saban, Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil.

* Denotes 2013 finalist. First-year eligible candidates in italics.

New drug policy may not bring great news for Dolphins

The NFL is working with the NFL Players' Association on a new drug policy that will cut the suspension of some players who violated the old policy on performance enhancing drugs. The Dolphins have two such players -- safety Reshad Jones and defensive end Dion Jordan -- suspended under that policy.

But multiple sources told The Miami Herald that Jordan will not have his suspension revoked once the new policy is announced as agreed to. The announcement on a new policy is expected soon.

Those same sources were not in agreement whether Jones would be returned to the Dolphins active roster.

It is possible both players will have to finish their full four-week suspensions, two weeks of which they have already served.

It is unclear why Jordan is not eligible to return when approximately a dozen players are going to be allowed to return before their full suspensions are served.

Under the old policy, players violating the performance enhancing drugs policy were suspended upon their first violation. Under the new policy, they join players who test positive for recreational drugs under the same umbrella. And those players are remanded to counseling and more tests on their first violation.

The NFLPA negotiated that most players suspended under the old performance enhancing drugs policy have their suspensions voided and be addressed under the new policy.

Pouncey returns to practice, not likely vs. KC

Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey returned to practice at least on a limited basis Tuesday, taking the next logical step toward returning to the lineup in a couple of weeks.

Pouncey was in drills during the portion of practice open to the media. It was his first time on the practice field and in drills since he underwent hip surgery in June.

This does not mean Pouncey will play Sunday against Kansas City, as I reported on this blog Monday night. Samson Satele is still expected to start against the Chiefs. But this step is encouraging and could mean Pouncey is back to playing against Oakland when the Dolphins travel to London for that Sept. 28 game.

[Update: Pouncey said he participated in the entire practice. He said he did everything. Asked if he's playing Sunday he said, "I feel like I could play but it's not my decision." It is Joe Philbin's decision. Pouncey is not playing against Kansas City.]

There are some other interesting tidbits coming out of Dolphins camp.

Lamar Miller, who left the game at Buffalo with a left ankle injury, is practicing today. LB Jordan Tripp, out the past three weeks, is back at drills today.

However, Charles Clay, Koa Misi and Terrence Fede were either working with a trainer or on the bike during some individual drills. Misi is expected to return to practice later in the week and should be available for Kansas City.

The blame for passing woes from two different angles

This post is about the Miami Dolphins passing game, which is having problems right now, but it is mostly about accountability and the vastly different approach of two individuals to the same problem.

The Dolphins are struggling in the passing game. It was a struggle against the New England Patriots in a victory. It was a struggle against the Buffalo Bills in a defeat. I could share the litany of statistics to back up those facts but trust me on that so we can get to the greater point quicker.

In accepting that the problem exists, kindly compare how the team's head coach and offensive coordinator -- both responsible for the passing game's performance -- approach the issue.

Both coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor were asked about the passing game's woes at their press conferences Monday. It was the first question of both press conferences.

This is how Philbin answered the question:

“We watched the film. Obviously, I was at the game," Philbin said. "I watched the film of the game on the plane ride home. I sat down with the whole staff and watched the game this morning again, so it’s my third time looking at (the game). In the passing game, there are a lot of factors that go into a good passing game as you know. As we watched the film, the film says that we’re not detailed enough in any one area. In other words, there were pictures on the tape where the depth wasn’t quite the right depth. The angle at the top of the route coming out and separating at the top wasn’t quite right. There were times where the location of the ball wasn’t quite what it needs to be. There were times when the protection forced the quarterback off of some open receivers and into other options. So the answer is our passing game is not at the level it needs to be. Those are the facts, but it’s a unit issue. It’s not one player that is really causing all of the problems with the passing game. When I saw it three times, I thought I saw it the first time. I watched it myself last night. I watched it and talked about it with the whole staff. That’s what I see."

So Philbin's approach is to blame all the players. It's not one player. It's the quarterback not locating the ball right sometimes. It's the receivers not taking proper angles sometimes. It's the offensive linemen and backs and tight ends failing at their protection sometimes.

Then Lazor was asked about the Miami Dolphins passing game.

“There’s no doubt that the blame rests 100 percent on me," Lazor said. "It’s my job when the unit fails in an area, whether it be completing enough passes, whatever the area is, and I felt like, when you look at us right now, if my stats are correct, unless someone has a really terrible game tonight, we’ll probably be in the second week last in the league in yards-per-attempt, which I think is a pretty good indicator in the passing game of how you are doing offensively. That rests on the coordinator and just getting everybody to do it the right way and just getting everybody on the same page. You can count the number of throws you think are errant, you can count the number of drops, you can count the protection issues when there is pressure on the quarterback. They are all true, but in the end, when it’s all of that together, that’s on the coordinator."

So Lazor's approach is to blame himself. He addresses the problem by pointing an accusing finger at no players, no other coaches, no one but himself.

And this is a fascinating study in human psychology. One person who has the ultimate responsibility over the entire team doesn't mention that it is his or his coaching staff's responsibility at all while putting it all on the players.

One person who has the ultimate responsibility over the unit recognizes there is a problem with the entire unit and says so but doesn't mention anyone else but himself.

Interesting, no?

Now, I'm sure if pressed, Philbin would agree the offensive coaching staff, Lazor and ultimately he have a role to play in the struggles of the passing game. I'm sure if he was asked, "Do you take responsibility?" he'd do it.

But the thing is that's not something that comes natural to him. He has to be pushed to do it. It's not the place where he goes off the top of his head. He believes it is the players that have to perform and so, in his mind, it is on them first.

This, even as he's dismissing the idea that he's supposed to be the team's alpha dog, its leader, and leaders are the most responsible for everything good and bad.

I know a lot has been written about how Philbin has changed this year. And he has made a commendable conscious effort to be more approachable and communicative. But on the accoutability front?

I'm seeing the same guy whose answer in the Wells Report to the harassment scandal was, in effect, "I didn't know about. I didn't see anything. It was those guys doing bad things." 

We saw this kind of approach from the coach at the end of 2013 when the Dolphins collapsed the final two games. Philbin blamed the players. It wasn't about him failing to get the team ready for the two most important games of the year. It wasn't about his offensive coordinator doing a poor job because, indeed, when ownership wanted Mike Sherman fired, Philbin resisted strongly.

It was about the players simply not performing, in his mind.

Lazor? His natural reaction is apparently to look inward. He may recognize the players are not performing, but he's going to lay under the bus first before he throws any of them under it. 

Don't blame others, blame me.

That reaction is one of a leader, a guy who leads from the front no less. This is the kind of approach that wins hearts and minds in the locker room, rather than the approach that points to the hearts and minds in the locker room and blames them first.

The concern here?

A football team takes on the personality of its head coach and to a lesser degree its coordinators. When Dave Wannstedt would tell his offensive players, "It's no sin to punt," that unit took on the personality of not making a mistake was the most important critical factor to playing the game rather than the message from its coordinator Chan Gailey or Norv Turner who preached, "Let's go make a play and be aggressive."

My concern is that this Dolphins team, particularly the offense, will take the path laid out publicly by its head coach which is blame someone else but not myself. Instead of taking the path laid out publicly by its offensive coordinator which is to look in the mirror first and fix that. 

September 15, 2014

If Pouncey practices, he might be able to play Oakland

Help is coming for the Dolphins offensive line in the person of Mike Pouncey. And the Dolphins are eager for the upgrade. But it is not likely going to happen this week when the Dolphins play Kansas City at Sun Life Stadium.

Pouncey, running and continuing to make progress in his rehabilitation following hip surgery, has still not practiced. And even if he practices every day this week starting Tuesday when Dolphins players return to work, he's not likely to get to the go-ahead to start on Sunday.

But this is important: If Pouncey can practice this week and then rejoin drills next week, he may indeed make his targetted return for the Sept. 28 game versus Oakland in London, England.

Pouncey would then have had two weeks of practice to prepare to play at least some. That's probably what he needs at minimum.

If Pouncey doesn't begin practicing this week, the likelihood he plays against Oakland is much, much lower -- assuming starter Samson Satele stays healthy -- and then the Dolphins would probably be looking at the Green Bay game in Week Six of the season as Pouncey's return.

The Dolphins, you should recall, have a bye in Week Five after Oakland.

So keep alert for news that Pouncey is finally practicing. If it comes this week, he might be playing at Oakland after all.

On another front, middle linebacker Koa Misi is expected to return to practice this week. He is expected to play against the Chiefs, barring a setback, as I reported last week.

Jordan Tripp, out with a chest injury for three weeks, is also expected to begin practicing again this week.

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The PFF and Salguero rewind of the Bills loss

There seems to be a controversy surrounding Ryan Tannehill.

I say he's played, how to be tactful, not good enough this season and indeed if you want to go back further, he didn't exactly finish strong last season with two duds at the end of 2013. So four consecutive games of disappointing play.

ProFootballFocus.com, meanwhile, seems to think Tannehill is ballin'. He is the No. 2 rated quarterback on their site behind Matt Ryan.

I don't buy it. Hey, the PFF guys are good people. But friends can disagree. I have reached out to them to get clarification on why they're wrong and I'm right.

Anyway, here's the rewind of Sunday's Miami Dolphins loss to Buffalo.

Offensive Summary

Not including Lamar Miller’s 4 snaps to start the game, here is the RB snap breakdown after Knowshon Moreno left the game: Miller 50, Damien Williams 17, Orleans Darkwa 9.

Brandon Gibson “started” again, but Jarvis Landry played more snaps, 44-41. The Dolphins seems to be doing this a lot. They started Miller at running back in the opener and gave the ball more to Knowshon Moreno. On Sunday they started Michael Thomas at safety (a curious situation that suggests something amiss) but Louis Delmas played more snaps.

Dallas Thomas replaced Shelley Smith at right for all 41 snaps following Smith’s knee injury. (Smith is expected to miss 2-4 weeks). To that point, Smith (-1.7) had allowed a sack and two hurries.

Ja’Wuan James (+3.2) acquitted himself well vs. Mario Williams, committing just one penalty and allowing a sack. 

Passing

Tannehill was sacked four times, but when he got the ball out under pressure, he was on target, going 7-of-8 for 44 yards when pressured. The rest of the time? He went 24 of 41 (58 percent completion).

None of Buffalo’s four sacks came on a blitz. All came with the four-man pass rush.

Rushing/Receiving

Beware of the small sample, but Damien Williams caused two missed tackles and 13 of his 19 yards gained came after contact.

Charles Clay, Brian Hartline, and Jarvis Landry all saw a target against at least five different Buffalo defenders.

Mike Wallace with another productive day, but he and Tannehill missed on another deep connection and he produced just six yards after the catch (YAC). That is now four potential TDs Tannehill and Wallace -- poor Tannehill throws is to blame on three of the four -- that this duo leaves on the field.

Defense

CB Will Davis only logged 14 snaps as the third corner with the Bills going heavy with plenty of two tight end and/or two-back looks. Davis might be winding down because when Reshad Jones returns to the team, Jimmy Wilson will move back to the third corner from safety. Jones is expected to return to the safety job.

Earl Mitchell (+4.3) once again provided elite run-stuffing play, as all four of his tackles went down as defensive stops. Mitchell is not steller and often goes unnoticed but he has been the most consistent performer of all Dolphins defensive line starters this season.

With Dannell Ellerbe and Koa Misi out, Jason Trusnik (59 snaps) and Jelani Jenkins (57 snaps) clearly ran as the nickel linebacker pair, with Philip Wheeler returning from injury to provide just 23 snaps. Trusnik's snaps are expected to diminish considerably next game against Kansas City as Misi is expected to return for the Chiefs. 

Coverage

Despite his modest 14 snaps, Davis was picked on by Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel, who completed four of his five targets (all four to Sammy Watkins) when targeting the second-year cornerback.

Watkins proved to be the one threat in the passing game for Buffalo, commanding 11 of Manuel’s 24 targets, and catching passes against four Miami DBs. Watkins finished with eight catches for 117 yards and a TD.

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[BLOG NOTE: Starting this week, to comment on this blog you’ll need to log in with a Facebook account. We encourage lively discussion on the blog, but also believe that respect and civility must be part of good debate. This change brings commenting on MiamiHerald.com blogs in line with our policy on the rest of our website. We made that change in Feb. 2013. Your blog posts will carry the name on your Facebook account; you will have the choice of whether your post also appears on your own Facebook page.]