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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?


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Keith Davis is not a big deal. We had Davis, Miles and Grisby on this team and the special teams stunk then too. So why keep rehashing these borderline NFL players? Courtney Bryan has more upside at Safety than Davis who has never been a good DB. Brannon Condren isn't even on the team anymore. The players we have need to play better. It's as simple as that.

Our improvement this year relates to doing the little things it takes to win. We see improvement in our offense and defense. But special teams coverage on both kickoffs and punts can be described as weak or downright stinko.

The Texans beat us by a point and turned around our early 14-3 lead by taking a punt return to the house. Bad kickoff coverage allowed the Patriots (yes even when we Wildcatted them) and Broncos to score easy red-zone TD's. Seattle gashed us repeatedly. It almost cost us against the Raiders. After viewing Johnny Lee Higgins return, our guys simply got their a**es kicked. I know I'm rehashing all this stink but it's a disgusting sore spot and unacceptable.

Even special teams coverage involves players executing their assignments, winning their matchups, having each others back as a team, and simply getting it done in the tackling department.

Part of this team maturing is to see the team win a game where it shows on the scoreboard that we really kicked a** and took names.

I have an eerie feeling the old Dolphin regimes stupidity will bite the new regime this week through Wes Welker. I am still stunned by Cam morons absolute lack of recognition of a real football player like Welker, and letting him go to the Patriots. I hope we can win this game and forever say goodbye to the old Dolphin brass.

Rick, didn't we beat the Pats and Welker in their house this year?

well, armando...no offense, but sparano knows more about football than you as he has performed a miracle already this season with six wins........some have been ugly but so what, as those were the type of games Miami lost last year......this is still a young team and will be even better next year...........as usual, some in the media have no idea of patience, they expect it all at once, knowing that is impossible as well as hurting fan base into unrealistic goals............The fact that Miami is in the hunt after only one win last year is awesome.long live the Big Tuna and Sparano...........

MrEd - Ninkovich isn't a possible "linebacker-type" he's just a linebacker. And he can play inside or outside.


Please write an article or at least mention the do's and don't when attending the game. I think its great that more fans are going to the games and there is an enthusiasm that I havent seen in a while but the football IQ is very low. As I'm sure you have noticed, when the Phins are on defense fans only seem to get excited and loud on third down. They need to understand false starts happen on 1st and 2nd down too. Also, when we are on offense, in thier excitment fans start screaming and doing the wave. Even the the huge LCD screens say "quiet offense at work", I dont think fans understand the point. Someone needs to break it down for them. Once that happens, as the 12th man we can be even more effective than we are now.

Fins ST hasn't been the same since Wannstadt let Mike Westhoff go to the Jets! We never worried about Special Teams due to his coaching ability and understanding of what it takes to field a combative coverage team. He was here for so long and I'm sure he would love to come back.

Hey Westernfin,

I'm not a genius. But I know when to use "you're" and when to use "your."

First,I agree with many of the posters on this putrid special teams effort, and yes,I also saw that London was blocked illegally in the back.Let's all pitch-in to buy Hoculi a pair of specs!That defensive pass interference call against the Fins was totally BS! Lastly,The Fins should look to hire Bud Foster from Va. Tech to coach special teams.

Hello Armando,

I do not think your job is to blast the Dolphins for improper special teams play. I, sitting at home, can do the same thing.

Insight as to why the special teams is not performing would be better. For instance, what positions on special teams did Grigsby, Davis and the other guy play?

Grigsby, I assume breaks the wall on kick returns. But was Davis a flier? head hunter? If our wall breaking is not an issue than why mention Grigsby. Are our fliers not getting down fast enough?


Hey Westernfin,

I'm not a genius. But I know when to use "you're" and when to use "your."

This man is not holding himself out to be a literary genius like you are holding yourself out to know more about special teams and football than coaches and fans everywhere.

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