« Dolphins beat Raiders 17-15 to improve to 6-4 | Main | Surprise element still a Miami Dolphins friend? »

Coverage teams are absolutely 'killing' Dolphins

I have been raging about the Dolphins special teams problems for weeks now. I continue that rage in my column that appears in today's Miami Herald.

On Sunday the special teams almost cost Miami a victory, which could have been a season-killer. And so now I am not the only one upset about bad coverage teams. Tony Sparano moments ago tried defending parts of his special teams, such as the protection on field goals. But he did admit portions of special teams play are, "killing," the Dolphins.

Here's what some players are saying:

"Everybody has to do better," punter Brandon Fields said. "I have to do my job better to get better hang time to allow the cover guys to get down there and they have to get off blocks and make tackles. A lot of times we've been in positions to make plays and we haven't made them. We let returners get out of our grasp and get down field. It's something we have to get fixed and corrected. We're coming down to the wire where we have big opponents and big games where it's going to be back and forth. A return touchdown can easily cost you the game."

"We're going to have to find a way to get it right," defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday said. "If it's me going down there and running down on kickoffs -- it's been a long time -- but I'll give it a shot. It really can't be any worse than that play in the game. We're going to have some guys step up. We have to put a hat on some guys. And we tried a different approach last week, we'll probably try a different one this week. The good thing about it is it can get fixed. I know this coaching staff isn't going to let this continue to go on."

I hope not. Safety Yeremiah Bell told me today he expects there to be a team meeting to discuss the special teams. "I'm sure we'll have a team meeting on special teams," he said. "The area needs to be talked about."

So who do you blame?

Sparano said he has no regrets the team cut special teams core players such as Keith Davis, Edmund Miles and Boomer Grigsby in the preseason and earlier this season. He said those guys simply weren't good enough at their positions to keep on the team.

I don't know about that. I think Keith Davis is a better safety than either Courtney Bryan or Brannon Condren. In fact, Davis is starting now in Dallas because Roy Williams is injured.

Anyway, how does this get fixed?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Coverage teams are absolutely 'killing' Dolphins:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Boomer Grigsby or Edmond Miles anyone? Most teams have at least one special teams "ace", even if it sacrifices "position flexibility". Grigsby and Miles were wedge busting studs. Why not bring one or both of them in to shore up that unit?


Well it appears that Tony will be up late trying to determine corrective action for the problem. Nothing has worked so far. I don't fault the coaches nor the current players. This makeshift group is the only one that hasn't performed well with this total makeover. If you think about it, two (offense and defense) out of three (special teams) ain't bad!!! The poor performance is glaringly apparent due to the positive production of the Offense and Defense.

So what now? Keep moving the pieces around until the puzzle comes into focus. We have to live with these players, for now, and do the best patchwork we can. I have confidence that Tony year will find a happy medium this year to keep us playoff bound. Isn't optimism great?

How does it get fixed? Keep trying different combos in special teams until it works right. You keep working at it. It won't be completely fixed this year, but maybe we can limit the big plays the rest of the way. And - in situations like yesterday's at the end of the game - maybe have Fields punt it out of bounds next time. I'd rather have had the Raiders start at say - the 20 - then have what happened.

Thanks Armando for this posting. It pretty much guarantee's that the special teams will play great next week. Really appreciate it. Do you think you could posting something about how we are not going to make the playoffs?
Thanks again!.

Did everyone see Renaldo Hill on Kickoff teams. He had the first two tackles the first two kickoffs. Obviously the starters are better all around players. But it is asking a lot of them to do all of that extra work. I like the first post idea of bringing in a special teams ace. We just need to start tackling better. We have had poor poor tackling all year on special teams.

Next time this happens, it will probably be costing us the game. Already has with the Texans game.

Please cut the following players

*Ginn (yes he is making his way off this list, but I'm still no fan; maybe a good #2)

W. Allen
J. Allen

Thank you!

OMFG, any one see the AI interview where he is upset because he is being asked about a missed practice?


I could almost gurantee that a kick was going to be returned yesterday as I saw the opening kickoff returned.

Special Teams needs some Special Ed, I still know a few of my HS Football team mates, maybe we can gear up and play on this unit, its not like you have to do anything, run down the field - watch the person with the ball run by you...seems easy

And finally; to Mr. Hoculi (however its spelled)

YOU SUCK, this man should be removed from his Referee position and strapped to a pole placed in front of a firing squad. Yeah he apologizes to every fan that emails him; SO WHAT

Recognizing the problem is part of the keys to its solution. So far, I'm glad to hear these guys acknowledge the special teams woes. Now, going about in play to handle the situation is a different story. I think what they need to do is look for players who specialize on special teams. The Dolphins at one point had Keith Davis. He's now back with Dallas, but they really like what he does on special teams. These are the types of players the Dolphins lack, guys who are standouts when it comes to special teams. I can't name one guy on the Dolphins who makes me go "wow," or even a little, "meh." They have to look elsewhere. But as for this season, keeping mixing it up until you find a decent group who is better than the last.

You have to keep cutting guys and bring in players that take pride in playing Special Teams. One example is Patrick Cobbs Mr do it ALL. Here is a guy who does everything on this team and if that is what it takes then you do it.

Carpenter hit it on the Head, He has to do a better Job of kicking the ball in the endzone, or kick them very high so our guys can get down there, Secondly guys have to be more aware and not let themselves get taken out of the play. Guys are just running down there and hoping to be in place. You have to look ahead and and put yourself in a position to make the play, this is what you see out of Patrick Cobb. He does not let the opponent take him out of any chance to make a play. They can say what they want but Coaches put their players in place to make plays and I think all this is not just players, Come on Tony , admit your special teams coach may not be what he needs to be. At this point in the season a good special teams coach would have did a better job of closing these holes, get creative as you have on offence.GO PHINS


I'm honestly stunned by the special teams performance.

My thoughts going into the season:

The hiring of the new ST coach and most of the offseason FA acquistions all pointed to vastly improved special teams.

The hiring of Dan Henning, along with a draft full of OL meant a **BORING** offense.

The draft of two DL and a mixup in the LB positions meant decent, but not spectacular defensive play.

So what the hell do I know?

The offense is fun to watch, the defense vastly improved, and special teams sucks worse than last years.

The blame falls squarely on bad draft picks and free agents from previous coaches and GMs. We have no depth at all. This current management had to concentrate on building up the trenches, cause without that we would be the same as last year. Whatever they do now has to be with the current crop of players and hopefully they'll handle the job until we can start signing free agents this spring.

Without Pennington, Ginn, W. Allen and J. Allen we would be totally screwed. The guy who always writes please cut them is a retard. You fail.

To bring people in, you have to let people go. They must not want to do that, but I wish they would.

At some point this team's lack of ST success must be blamed on the coaching. Sparano hasn't hesitated to give the axe to anybody who's not giving 100% (OK, except for "Mr. Inactive" Wilford), and the coaches should not be an exception to that rule. Bonamego does not appear to be the answer for special teams, and the Trifecta needs to give some hard thought to a coaching upgrade.

For kickoffs......pooch-kick it like at the end of the raiders game......or just kick it on the ground down the middle; NO MORE kickoffs to the goal line.....finished - DONE!!

For punts......just punt the ball out of bounds

Looks like the fins are going to have to dance with the one "That Brung Us". Heads rolling and roster changes I don't believe will fix special teams before Sunday's Patriot game. Bill Parcells no doubt will be at practice this week with his eyes fixed dead red on Special teams. Grigsby and Miles admitted are STeam players but they too were gutted earlier this year. Sunday Wes Welker and Ellis Hobs haven't returned one to the house this season however Hobbs is third in the NFL in return yardage. It wasn't exactly a cake walk the first game of the season. It's NE kicking game, they are 3rd in points for FG in the NFL. You can't spot NE great field position and win Sunday if you allow 15-18 points on Field Goals. Time of Posession is critical, NE rarely loses if they win TOP. Matt Cassel is no Tom Brady, he is also not the same QB we faced in the first game. Mat Cassel is very comfortable in the Belichick system designed for him. If we win I believe we have to win STeams and TOPossession. I'm not sure Miami has won both of these catagories all year. They're who we thought they were. A Damn Good Team, forget the 1st win, Vegas will have us as the underdawgs if only by 2-3 points. This much Drama this late in the season is GREAT! Go Fins

Sparano should send a message and fire the ST Coach (Bona. We have NO ONE on ST that is considered a grest ST player except for (Cobbs), and I dont think he is great is just has alot of heart.

At the end of the day it is what it is, these are the players they have on special teams and they have to continue to grind it out and try to make plays.

They need to get it fixed and fast because the pats are good on ST and they got HOBBS and WELKER.

Go Finssssss!!!!!!

the guy who said cut ginn pennington and allen is a complete idiot...he should even bother blogging if hes gonna type foolish things like that

i think its mental.. they are in positions to make plays. They just havent executed. They miss tackles. They put their hands on the guys and miss tackles.
no one touched him on the punt return..but for the most part we get in position and then just dont tackle.

Funny, 28-30 players should be starters, we have 24-26...has to be a couple guys out there that can tackle...

let the starters practice so in late situations they can come in at least !
We wont play it as bas as last 2 weeks !
I hope

It seems that tackling is the problem. If you can touch the kick returner, you better tackle him. If he gets beyond the initial wave, he is gaining big yardage. And Fields is simply not fast enough to catch a speedy returner.

Have parcells stand on the sidelines during kicking plays.

Please cut the following poster:


Thank you!


I say do whatever it takes to bring the returner down. Facemask him....horsecollar him...take the 15 yard penalty.....sure beats having our opponent get a TD or start their possession in our territory consistently.

6-4 is great people, but the ultra-crappy Seahawks and Raiders gave us a run for our money at then end there. That has GOT to be concerning.

Tom@Jax had it right I think… We have shown we have a solid core of starters and since we’ve suffered very few injuries we are able to play at an NFL level on offense and defense, but the drop off after the starters is drastic. We simply lack depth and the depth players are the one who fill out the ST roster. Firing John Bonamego seems like a knee jerk reaction to me because he’s not the person running down the field covering kicks and he has done well in the other places he has coached. I don’t think the guy suddenly becomes a bad coach. Cutting Keith Davis is an obvious mistake, but overall I’d say Parcells and the boys have done a good job on the personnel side. So what’s the answer?

I could shoot some holes in the depth argument because Oakland is a worse team than we are and kicked our butts on special teams. We have a lot of young guys out there who are under extreme pressure to perform. The team has shown week in and week out that they will cut a player who is not performing so these guys must feel like an ameba under a microscope. Maybe therein lies the problem… Too much pressure, the guys are so afraid of messing up they become hesitant and don’t play with the complete abandon needed to be good on special teams. I’m not sure the best way to get these guys to relax, but telling them they’re going to get cut every week is obviously not working. I prefer hard-line discipline oriented coaches but at some point, as SteFin mentioned, “you go to dance with what brung ya,” maybe it’s time to get off the weekly cut cycle and let these guys feel like they are part of the team.

I don't think this is a fix, but rather a band aid..

Let's keep one fast guy back with the kicker or punter. I am tired of watching our last guy get run around like he is standing still. I'd much rather have my kicker gunning down the field and have a quick good tackling speedster hanging back in case the return guy gets loose. It seems to me we have 10 guys over run each kick and leave the kickers back to be the safety net..

PS - I'd also instruct Fields to punt EVERY punt to the sidelines.. No punts in the middle of the field, and most should go out of bounds.. I'd rather give up 15 yards in distance then watch the return guy catch another punt!

On a final note - was I the only one who thought London got pushed in the back right as he was about to make the hit on that TD return? That is the second week in a row that the ref missed a push in the back that cost us a long return!! Maybe I missed this one, but he clearly got a nice shove in the back right at the point when Higgens was about to catch the ball inside our 10.

Pssst, here's the secret damage done by our ST. They've cost us the NE game. That's right, we've already lost the NE game. How'd I get there.

Well, we all remember the special attention given to revamping the offense before the first NE game. It was a lot of brainstorming that resulted in the wildly successful Wildcat offense, which of course killed NE.

Unfortunately, instead of devoting that coaching brainpower to coming up with new innovative ways of attacking the Pats, our coaches will be bogged down in reminding umpteen millionaires how to tackle, having team meetings to somehow bring more focus to our ST coverage schemes.

So, I believe that our offense, which has sputtered in the last couple of weeks, albeit in wins, will suffer from the lack of attention now devoted to fixing (not so)special teams. Too bad. Otherwise, you know NE would be quaking in their boots over what the Fins would throw at them this week.

I read somewhere once that stated that MIA uses less LBs and more DBs/WRs/TEs/RBs than most of the league does on ST's coverage. I found that odd. Maybe that's what it is?

We have Anderson, Torbor, and Moses as the lone LBs with 7 DBs/WRs/TEs/RBs out there. TE depends on how big he is, than he can count as a LB type, I guess.

Well maybe Ninkovich will be an added LB type. I mean, we are an odd team...we only carry "one", that's right, one backup ILB for a total of 3 on the whole roster.

Most teams have 4 ILBs, if not 5 on the whole roster, we only carry 3.

Yeah, that could have something to do with it. We have too many small slashing flyers and not enough "bigger" SURE tackling types. Something to ponder on.....Sparano?

Increase the length of time the ball is in the air. Or go all out to get a player who can boom kicks out of the endzone on Kickoffs, but has poor directional skills. As for Fields, he linedrives so many of his kicks and doesn;t seem to give his teamates enough time to get down there. His job is on the line for next yeaar. I dont expect to see him there. Plus playing the starters an extra play each on ST will mean that they have to rest 1-2 plays out of the regular Defense or Offense. It seems years ago in Miami at lot more of our straters played on ST. The problem can be fixed with more strategy that brute force.

First off, I think our ST team coach is not doing his homework. It's just ridiculous!!
If we're gonna keep picking/dumping players every week in order to improve our "special" team, then so be it..
Does anybody know the entire "special" team besides Cobbs??? Armando???

Every aspect of a 1-15 team and the years of mind-numbing incompetence it took to get there can't be completely rectified in one off-season. Better team, a little luck and a jacked-up knee in New England and the pesky Fins are in the playoff hunt third week of November. I'm impressed. Parcells, Ireland and Sparano will fix the special teams too and a lot of Bekins boxes may get used in the process. The transformation of this team in such a short period of time regarding tangibles and intangibles is remarkable. If the Chargers had this coaching staff, they wouldn't be 4-6.

It looks like and 10-6 or 9-7 team. This a freakish turnaround.
We need a couple of crazy people on ST. Ones who will risk career ending tackles to get the ball. It isn't rocket science. Stay in your lane, avoid getting blocked and kill the guy with the ball.
To me, the whole thing looks positional.
Yesterday the hole was diagonal, with our outside running faster than our inside guys. When that happens it only takes one or two good blocks and the ball carrier is gone. So, if we punt to the middle of the field the opportunity is presented to the receiving team. So pick a side and punt there. On kickoffs kick it out of the stadium. No return.

It seems to be pretty basic week after week. You can't just fly down the field trying to make a spectacular hit while running full speed. You've got to break down, sink your butt, and not get juked. I mean, c'mon, that's Pop Warner stuff.

Hey guys the coaches aren't going to fix everything overnight. We are fortunate to be where we are right now. Most had us picked to win four games this year. Minus a couple bad plays with the Texans and the Jets we would be leading the division. There will be something special coming our way in the near future. GO FINS

Hey guys the coaches aren't going to fix everything overnight. We are fortunate to be where we are right now. Most had us picked to win four games this year. Minus a couple bad plays with the Texans and the Jets we would be leading the division. There will be something special coming our way in the near future. GO FINS

The answer is simple folks. The kickoffs and punts have no hang time or distance. This is what's making our special teams look so bad. Sparano needs to get find someone on waivers who does nothing but kickoffs and punts. This is the only thing that will repair special teams.

YOU are a complete idiot

LOL. Armando man,,,,hahahaha, oh boy that cracked me up. Sparano said, "those guys simply weren't good enough at their positions to keep on the team". Armando said, " I don't know about that. I think Keith Davis is a better safety than T. Culver or Brannon Condren, in fact Davis is starting now in Dallas because Williams is injured". Okay I'm not disagreeing that Davis is better than either of those two but they didn't cut Davis to keep either of those two. They were churning the bottom of the roster ( they being Parcells and Ireland) and we all knew they were going to do this. I just don't like the tone that this is somehow Sparanos doing. Last I knew the personnell is handled by the Tuna and Ireland, to a lesser extent. Sparano has to stick up for the guys on the team now and he will no matter how bad they are. He already told us he would never call a player out to the media. He does all of that stuff behind closed doors. I know you probaly didn't mean it that way but the end of your blog came off as you know more about the talent level of Tonys players than he does. He is just protecting his guys and we know this. It is part of the reason I think he's a great coach. A coach that protects his players like that to the public can get them to run through walls. Bottom line is if there is any blame for the good special teamers getting cut, it should go to Parcells/Ireland.

I've been saying it all along. Sign a second kicker that can boom the ball into or out of the end zone. Other teams have been successful doing this in the past.

I would think it starts with getting a good special teams coach.


Letting Keith Davis go never made any sense. I always suspected it was one of those Dallas/Miami favors going on at the beginning of the year.

How about on kickoffs just trying to drill the kick through the short side of the end zone by the cone. If it goes out of bounds they start at the 40 which is where they start anyway. It also denies them the chance for a touchdown. On punts they should have Fields just concentrate more on the heights of his punts than the distance. This should result in more fair catches. This is NOT going to get better. This is not a unit that can be trusted with so much on the line. You have to be resourceful and use STRATEGERY!

Soooo. Has anyone watched the replay very closely of the safety we gave em. Anyone see Jake Long getting absolutely tossed to the ground like a rag doll and give it up? That was ugly...hopefully just a rook mistake, but I never expected to see him overpowered in that manner. ouch.

LOL armando, you act like you were discovering America.. Every fan of this team has been pissed about the coverage teams. And Sparano has been talking about it everyweek. They know there is a problem, everyone does except for me because I don't know squat ... But you act as though it's a simple as brushing my teeth which I never do... We have some pretty dam.n good coaches. But the problem w/ special teams is it's about having that bottom of the roster talent. Which this FO is working on, but you can't build Rome in a day. Give them some time, they are doing pretty dam.n good for us and for a 1-15 team.

Dan Carpenter has proved solid so far, but is a touchback every now and then too much to ask for?

Back on topic: Last year when the coverage team was just as bad they put Ginn on them and he made a difference. He tackles well (after interceptions also, again last week) and is not going to get beat to the endzone by anybody,

Hey, I thought 3 wins was a stretch. But since ALL players are used on off and def, no specialty players on special teams, but hey the wins are close and the loss to Tex was due to special teams but def still had to stop them, they didn't but I'm back on the bandwagon and Dolphin Fans are loud and proud out west. Great job Bill, Tony and the rest.

This doesn't have anything to do with the subject at hand, but to those of you who haven't seen this,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE8-43ab4PQ ...I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I love this team!

While I agree that Davis, Grigsby and Miles are all quality special teamers, it's worth pointing out that Miles and Grigsby are currently unemployed. While it is true that neither has practice squad eligibility, their special teams ability hasn't interested the other 31 teams enough to give them a roster spot, either.

Did Drew give you permission to write this article? Is he looking to represent players on Special Teams, or does he represent unsigned players looking for a job on Special Teams? Please explain your motivation for writing this article and how it relates to your boss, Drew Rosenscum.

The New York Giants are defending Super Bowl Champs. They are 9-1 this year.
They have 2 kickers:

Kickoffs: Lawrence Tynes

Field goals and XP's: John Carney

Enough said.
I don't care if the Dolphins go out and get some Australian rules football, or soccer player to kick the ball off. Just get someone in here that can kick the ball past the 5 yard line, and get some touchbacks already! They can keep Carpenter for FG's and XP's. Just get a strong leg in here for kickoffs and you'll solve a big part of the problem. Opponents can't rip off returns if they are consistently downing the kicks in the end zone, or watching the ball fly out of the end zone.

To Pat. They supposedly did go out and bring in special team players. Don't you remember? That was one of Parcels first priorities! Thats whats so frustrating about this unit. Personally, even though their mot admitting it, I think the special teams coach has to be held acountable. Especially when they keep mixing in different players and get similar results. As avid a fan as I am, I'm a little ashamed to say that I'm not sure who our special teams coach is. But what difference does it make? If we can have a no tolerance rule for players then why not for coaches. Why not give him the boot!?

Ya... I know. I mistyped. My last message should of read "not" admitting ...and the word shoud be spelled "accountable." My bad.

It takes awhile to find that special chemistry that makes up special teams. Experimentation will continue probably till end of season and into next year. If you look at other team's success with special teams; it is chemistry, consrant trial and error, and longevity of players familiar with each other. Unfortunately the Dolphins have none of those qualities at this time. Go Phins.

Special Teams are killing us and there are a few things that should be doen immediately. Fisrt of all, Fields should be practicing corner punts for like 5 hours a day if need be, but this team should start angling punts out of bounds weekly. Sure you lose a few off the net but it beats a 93 yard punt return. He gets paid to kick the damn ball this is just another aspect of kicking the ball. As far as kickoffs go, Im at a loss, but god something has to change. To me it almost looks as if too many guys get down deep and get caught up in the wedge thus letting the return man cut around or thru a hole and then its really just the kicker left to beat. Got to improve this part of the team drastically if we are gonna compete for the division crown.

I agree with John. If you know that you can't cover kicks then don't let them return them for the rest of the year. Pooch kick on kickoffs to up lineman and give the other team the ball at the 30 line yard. If other teams cheat on this tactic then kick it deep. On punts, out of bounds, always. You got to knwo who you are and the coverage teams already cost the Dolphins one game (against Houston) - THAT'S ENOUGH!

1 2 »

The comments to this entry are closed.