The Miami Dolphins game against the Oakland Raiders is a milestone moment this weekend.
If the Dolphins win, all that seems wrong with this team will suddenly fade. They'll be 2-2 at the bye with the prospect of getting Koa Misi, Reshand Jones, Mike Pouncey and Knowshon Moreno back in the lineup for the next game after the bye.
Those four players likely will not start on Sunday, by the way, although it is uncertain if Misi and Pouncey will be active. The other two obviously will not be.
Misi had to do less today than yesterday, meaning he was limited in practice on Wednesday but was not able to practice Thursday. Bad sign.
Randy Starks has not practiced all week with a back issue.
CB Cortland Finnegan was added to the injury report today with a neck issue. He did not practice. The lone nuggett of good news is that TE Charles Clay went from not practicing Wednesday to taking limited reps in practice today. He is dealing with a knee issue.
Despite all this ...
If the Dolphins lose to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
They'll be 1-3 coming out of what can arguably called the easy part of their schedule. They have a simmering QB question. They have a coach bumbling through the handle of his quarterback. And they will have lost to a winless team for the second consecutive week.
Not good, folks.
Yeah, this is a big game if not a must-win game for the Dolphins.
Speaking of the coach's handling of the QB situation, check out Barry Jackson's blog for details of how he dealt with the issue internally. As for how he's dealing externally, Joe Philbin still does not get it.
Jimmy Johnson knew that when he talked to the media he was talking to the press, the fans, and most importantly, his players.
I think Philbin still believes he's only talking to a handful of reporters.
(Opening statement) – “Basically our game plan is in and I thought we had a very good practice today. I thought it was the best Thursday practice that we’ve had so far of the four that we’ve had prior to our games. We talked to the team about our professional approach. We are going over to London to play a football game. It’s a very important game and we are going to need everybody’s best effort. We are going to get on the plane here in a relatively short time. We are going to do our post-practice meetings like we always do on a Thursday, really have a normal day and then get on the plane. Our operations staff here has done a great job organizing this trip. Then we are going to get on a plane, go, land in London and then get back to work there, too."
(On if he wishes that he would have handled the situation with QB Ryan Tannehill differently) – “Let me just say this, one of the functions of the head coach is to create an atmosphere free from distractions and, to the degree that I contributed to any of those distractions, intended or not, it doesn’t really matter. That falls on me. It’s my responsibility. Certainly, I accept that responsibility as the head coach. Really that’s all I have to say on that."
(On what he thinks of the job the defensive line has done overall) – “It’s a good group. We’ve obviously had some guys in the group that have been here as long as I’ve been here. A lot of those guys, Randy (Starks), Cam Wake, Olivier Vernon, Jared (Odrick), Derrick Shelby, and then Earl Mitchell has also added to the group. Anthony Johnson has contributed. It’s a good group. Certainly, there is room for improvement, things they have to do better, but I like the way they’ve contributed so far."
(On if he’s come to any conclusions this week about the first half scoring problems) – “It’s really just execution. The more we’ve looked at it, the more it’s fundamentals, execution. Last week, we talked about we had some drops, we had some protection issues. We had some scoring opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of when we were down there where we could have scored more points. I don’t think it was anything miraculous, any great revelations. We have to execute better. We have to block better, catch better, get some run after-the-catch, get a couple more explosive (plays). There’s nothing that came as an epiphany in the middle of the night. We have to execute better, without a doubt.”
(On if QB Ryan Tannehill learning a new offense has contributed to his struggles) – “We’ve been working hard at this thing since April 21st. As I always say, the reps and the things you do in practice have to count for something. I want to say we had over 1,100 competitive snaps in the OTAs. We’ve had over 1,600 in training camp. We had preseason games. We had three regular season games. I don’t want to minimize it. The schemes, there are some differences, but, at the end of the day, football is football really.”
(On one or two things that swayed him into this week’s schedule leading into the London game) – “I think the real major thing was the way we decided how we were going to practice throughout the year. We really decided Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday were going to kind of be the heavy lifting days, for lack of a better phrase. So we wanted to get the game plan in, do it here, have our meetings here, have our lifting here, have our practice here where our guys are familiar, have the game plan in, so literally as we step on the plane, the game plan is in. We’ll tweak this, we’ll tweak that and maybe make a minor adjustment here or there, but they know what the game plan is so they can go to sleep on the plane, wake up, go to work tomorrow and it’s a normal Friday. We are timing it up as best we can that it’s a, quote, normal Friday for them as if they were still here.”
(On if the team will do walkthroughs the next two days) – “We’ll do just what we always do. Nothing is really changing.”
(On his general philosophy about replacing a quarterback during a game if he is struggling) – “I don’t think it’s any different. Every position, you have to get a sense for the game, you have to get a feel for the game and look at it clearly from that perspective and decide. Everything should be based on what gives your team the best chance to win at any position. It really shouldn’t matter what position you’re playing.”
(On how he feels about his other tight ends with TE Charles Clay on the injury report and if he has a receiving tight end in that group) – “Well, I think Dion (Sims) has contributed nicely in the first three games. He’s a little bit different body type than Charles (Clay) as you can tell. So he doesn’t do exactly the same things all the time you know. I think that’s part of game planning. You have to utilize the strengths and the skills of your particular players that you have. I think Gator Hoskins is a young player that’s developing. He hasn’t gotten a lot of battlefield action yet in the regular season games. He is athletic and he is very smart.”
(On Raiders QB Derek Carr being the only rookie to start Week 1 this year and what’s he’s seen from him) – “Yeah, a lot of the same things we liked when he was coming out. He seems to have a good presence about him for a young player. You can see the quick release that he had. He does have both velocity and touch. He doesn’t seem to get real flustered out there for a young guy. So he’s off to a good start."
(On what concerns him most about playing the Raiders on Sunday) – “They are an improving football team. You watch the film and they seem to be getting better every single week. I think Dennis (Allen) and his staff do an excellent job and so I think that’s the number one thing. I was sitting in a defensive meeting. We watched the play what was it, 16-9 with a minute something to go? And I was just sitting in there. They’re a good football team. They obviously need to improve that and so we have to be ready to play our game.”
(On what LB Khalil Mack has done for the Raiders’ defense) – “You can see the talent there. I think one of the things they’ve done a nice job of is they move him around into some different spots. Is he a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme? Is he a defensive end in a 4-down scheme? Is he playing off the ball? Is he to the left or to the right? You see the burst, he can chase down plays outside the numbers. He moves really well. You can see some of the pass rush skill. He’s good.”
(On what progress he’s seen from CBs Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in the first three games and if either is ready for a bigger role) – “Yeah, I think they have. There’s still, I think they’re a lot like our entire football team where they’ve got to become more consistent. They’ve got to produce on a consistent level week-in and week-out. I don’t know that that should be a shock to anybody since they didn’t play a ton of football last year and they’re kind of young in their developmental stage. I think that’s one thing we’re looking for. Certainly, (I’ve) seen some very good things out of both of them. Now, we would like to see it on a more consistent basis.”
(On how he will spend the flight to London) – “Hopefully sleep some. But our video people do a great job and we got all kind of cut ups and tape that we can watch. Our iPads loaded up, the game plans are on that. So certainly look at some of that and get some rest because when we land, we’ve got to get to work and go right back at it. You’ve got to fuel the fire a little bit."
(On if there is no time for recreation for him on the plane) – “I can barely turn on an iPad. I don’t know how to load and download. I go to my house, I can’t even watch TV unless somebody is there. It’s true.”
(On if he knows how to use a DVR) – “No idea. There are four remotes in there, which one is this? Forget it, just read."
(On if he’s ever been to London before) – “No, I’ve never been. They say it’s a great atmosphere, the guys that have coached in that game. It should be a great atmosphere for football. I think our guys are excited about it. They should be. I remind the players sometimes, everybody used to think it was a big deal in high school when you got on a bus and went to the neighboring town to play the rival. Now you get to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in one of the great cities in the world and play football. It should be special."
(On how many of his players have played in London) – “I haven’t really polled a lot of those guys. I’m sure there are some, but, like you said, probably not a lot."
(On if there is anything he is going to visit or do in London) – “Not that I have planned, nothing planned."
(On if QB Ryan Tannehill is starting on Sunday) – “I think I’ve already addressed that.”