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Bad when Dolphins run-first offense is shelved

Sometimes the chicken is there first and it lays the egg. Sometimes the egg is there first and it produces a chicken.

Sometimes I have no idea how to start this friggin' blog and just go with a trite, boring, worn cliche.

Anyway, the chicken and egg idea sort of applied to the Dolphins running game Sunday. The Miami offense ran a total of 42 offensive plays. Some of you have suggested if the Dolphins had run the ball more than their 22 attempts, they would have extended drives and given themselves the chance to be on the field more.

That group is complaining the Dolphins didn't run enough against the 49'ers.

Tony Sparano isn't sure that the reasoning works. He says the reason the Dolphins didn't run enough is because, well, they only had 42 offensive plays.

And since I'm confused about the whole matter, I asked him to explain what up?

That is the point where Sparano said Monday Miami's game plan against San Francisco was not to run so much but, in fact, to pass.

“I think one of the things is we went into this game feeling like, versus this team, we had to be fairly aggressive early in the game," Sparano said. "And we were. We came out and we made a good play down the field to David Martin and we took a shot at one point to Teddy (Ginn) down the sideline and we did some things that way."

But on a day the Dolphins wanted to throw downfield, the San Francisco defense seemed wary of having Miami throw downfield. And so it kind of ruined Miami's big surprise.

"These guys kind of played us a little bit backwards defensively,' Sparano admitted. "Good job by them in that they played a lot more shell coverage. They weren’t going to let the ball down the field which would be a compliment to Chad (Pennington), but they weren’t going to let the ball down the field. It was going to be more about throwing the ball down to the backs and those type of things and being patient."

And that's when the Miami offense bogged down. It converted only one of seven third down opportunities. It needed the defense to bail them out.

"What started to happen in my mind was you became a little bit less efficient on first down which is what has really been helping us," Sparano said. "If we’re efficient on first down, then the third downs are more manageable. We had a couple of those third down situations yesterday were third-and-10, third-and-12 and we weren’t efficient in those deals. That’s not going to help you stay on the field."

That, of course, takes me back to the original question. If the passing deal wasn't keeping the Dolphins on the field, why not run more? Sparano said that simply was not the plan.

"As far as running the football went, the plan was to pretty much spread these guys out a little bit," the coach said. "Be a little bit more aggressive. Give the quarterback some option plays where we could run or throw and in some of those situations, it just ended up being throws.”

Here's a reminder: Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown were the best playmakers on the offense at the beginning of the season. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are the best playmakers on the offense now that No. 1 receiver Greg Camarillo is out for the year, now that Ted Ginn Jr. is being inconsistent, now that Ernest Wilford is known to be a non-factor.

So here's a suggestion: Get Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams the ball first, Miami Dolphins! Run first!


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I understand going in with an initial game plan to pass, based on the crappy SF pass D ranking ( I think 25th or so in the NFL ), but shouldn't you notice within a few series if the other guys are playing the pass, not putting 8 in the box, etc.? They should've been quicker to switch back to the run, certainly at the half would've been a good time to adjust. I mean, cmon, this is the NFL, you have to make halftime adjustments based on what you see out there---I would love to ask what they saw out there they led them to keep the same offensive strategy ( which was no longer working ) through the 3rd and part of the 4th quarter.

It seems to me that they just weren't confident running it between the tackles, what with our guards being projects. I don't recall them ever trying to run it up the middle, and they certainly aren't going to win with toss sweeps 30 times a game. That (I think) is why we have to pass.

NFL.com is having a vote on who will win the AFC east. Get your buts to there and VOTE!!!!!!

Yeah, I don't really understand either why if something's working (Ronnie had a great average) why you don't keep doing that if your original plan is not working. They were finally feeling the run there on that last drive, until that pitch on third down. Not really sure about that one either. The good thing is, we're managing to do what we have to when it counts. Go Dolphins.

... and when you run, please try running a little bit more through the 4 or 6 hole behind Jake Long instead of always running to the right.

My coochi itchs.

it seems to me like this regime is a little sour on ronnie brown. maybe its just me but they dont really seem that confident giving im the ball and letting him grind it out in the fourth quarter, relying more on short passes and rickey wiliams. call me crazy but i cant see ronnie coming back next year

"And so it kind of ruined Miami's big surprise"

How did it ruin Miami's big surprise? It led to 14 points right off the bat that won the game. Sounds like it worked perfectly.


The bottom line is, if the dolphins are going to stay with pennington, then pennington had better patch things up with ted ginn, otherwise, the only way that dolphins are going to win another game is to give henne a shot in the game when pennington struggles; if the coaches have too much pride to do this, then the dolphins will not likely win another game. Some quarterbacks struggle with various defensive settings and some do not. A good quarterback will never go through an entire half, with the playoffs on the line, without scoring any points. I can tell though, that henne is a NATURAL!

Good stuff Mando! I don't understand why we are not utilizing Ronnie and Ricky as much in the offense. They don't need the wildcat. Give them the damn ball and let them run. Ronnie proved in the 4th quarter that he can get 1st downs for us. Everyone knows it always takes him a few games into the season and at least one quarter to get warmed up. When he does he is explosive! We really don't have the receivers to pass the ball 75% of the time. We have won against horrible teams who couldn't score in the last few games. We might be able to do it again this Sunday. But by the last game, I sure hope we will put up some points and control the clock!

The bottom line is, if the dolphins are going to stay with pennington, then pennington had better patch things up with ted ginn, otherwise, the only way that dolphins are going to win another game is to give henne a shot in the game when pennington struggles; if the coaches have too much pride to do this, then the dolphins will not likely win another game. Some quarterbacks struggle with various defensive settings and some do not. A good quarterback will never go through an entire half, with the playoffs on the line, without scoring any points. I can tell though, that henne is a NATURAL!

New Ted(hands of stone) ginn avg per game...catchs 2.6, yds 35.6 , tds .09 ...


I agree with you 'tis the season' to get Ronnie and Ricky going down hill.

Have to agree with most everyone here, not sure why we abandoned the run. It also seemed to me that we utilized more players that had not seen much action this season. Maybe there is a plan here after all, however I thought we were going to drop this game by being to conservative.

I Never Have To worry about catching a cold. ted cant catch anything.

Hey reading between the lines coach is not going to admit this but they knew the couldn't run consistently on the 49ers and thus resorted to misdirection and toss sweeps etc. where they could. Give them credit for recognizing the team's limitations against this opponent. The 49ers have some good Lb's and thus can stop the run so passing was the best option. The 49ers knew this as well hence the shell coverage.

The whole idea of throwing Henne in the game during a playoff run does not make good since. Barring injury you do not throw a rookie in the game "to see how he's going to play" during a run for the playoffs. The best QB for the job is in the game,You need the consistancy, leadership, and the reliabiliy, pennington brings to the game.


Yeah, I guess the "game plan" did work at the beggining after Pennington scored twice. However, running the ball a lot more after those scores would've gave us more time of possesion, maybe more first downs, who knows. Anyway, you've got to have plan B, right?

Two things your likely never to see in your lifetime # 1 osama bin laden at the white house . # 2 ted ginn going over the middle of the field with 2 defenders within 5 yds of him.

Wow I mean i just dont understand why the tuna hasnt retained some of you experts for his coaching staff.

I think some of you "experts" could really be the next shula or maybe the next noll.

Maybe You would have made this dolphin team better then they are, yes iam sure you would be better then the guy they got now.

The Fins better be running Sunday against the Chiefs to control the clock and tempo of the game. As horrible as the Chiefs' record is, they still play tough ball most of the time. They should have had two wins over the Chargers, but only a miracle finish allowed San Diego to win yesterday. DO NOT OVERLOOK the Chiefs.

To be honest with you, I think theres a couple of you guys that would give don shula's record a run at. i mean you guys are 2nd guessing what the tuna has put together.

And Theres 1 More thing "coach" you all make me sick!

The Dolphins should be able to get more offensive production during the next 2 games because they face two of the worst defenses in the NFL - the Chiefs and Jets. The Jets let JP Losman (JP Losman !!) score 27 on them. That defense is a big joke. They needed a miracle to beat the Bills, one of the worst teams in the NFL right now.

It's going to come down to the Dolphins and Patriots for the AFC East Title. The Pats will probably win their next two, and the Jets dont have a prayer at Seattle this week. So if our game against the Jets gets flexed to Sunday night in week 17, the Jets will already be eliminated.

Wrong Coach.

James and David Bond are crazy. Ronnie will be back next year and Pennington will start next week!
The coaches get conservative and try to protect the ball and the lead to much.
That might work next week but not when we play the Jets.
We will need to run up points on the Jets all the way through the game.
Start with smash mouth run it down their throats and then open up with some stutter steps to fake out the DBs and bombs.
Go Phins!

I Think your the second coming of vince lombardi himself. your a genius.

Yeah, Gian the game plan worked great. That's why the Dolphins got outgained, could not convert on third down and had to sweat there balls off on defense to pull it out. Knob.

Love ya, Mando. Gonna hire you soon.

James and David Bond are crazy!
Pennington starts and Ronnie returs next year.
The coaches have been very conservative protecting the lead and the ball.
This has bit us in the arse in the past.
Time to run smash mouth up the middle and toss a couple of bombs.

I am with Mando: Pound the Rock.

We just need to get Ronnie more touches. Were givin it to Ricky enough

Another thing i want to say:
What did the coaching staff do to teach David Martin how to catch?????
This guys was supposed to be a bust after last year. He had tons of drops and has always been known of having bad hands. This year hes had maybe the surest hands on the dolphins roster. Hes dropped maybe one ball?? CP has been lobbing it up for him to go and get it and he has not dissapointed!

I taught David Martin how to catch. I'm a star coach too.

WOW armando, I actually agree with you 100% on this one. I found myself screaming "RUN THE BALL!"at the t.v. all game yesterday. I thought yesterday would have been a perfect time to break out the wildcat a little bit more. Ronnie was averaging almost 7 yards per carry but we can't get him more than 10 carries? Lou Polite has been a nice player but PLEASE stop giving him the ball in big situations. Dan Henning has been as big a reason as any as to why we have had the success we've had BUT I feel like he almost cost us a game yesterday. His gameplan was HORRIBLE and lets hope that doesn't happen again. GO FINS! WE BELIEVE!

To the first poster- there are really no "halftime" adjustments.The game plan is in place.Ask any player about "halftime" adjustments and they will laugh.You do not change the game plan at friggig halftime.You may tweak a play or a blocking scheme but not the entire game prep.Learn football before posting.

Mando-he answered you question.He was not going to change the plan.I usually agree with you but not this time.Coach wins his argument and the game.Nuff said.

It's about time a GOOD POST. I think Ronnie needs to handle the ball more than Ricky, but these two are the key to our success.

Pat-here is a GOODPOST.Ronnie holds rickys balls and is the key to a good playoff run.DICK JAURON keeps his yob{sic}as jills head joke.WETS fold under cap.DOLPHINS win AFC EAST.PLAY ONE FUGGIN GAME AT A TIME AND WIN THE S>O>B>.DAMN IT DOLPHINS WIN THIS GO#DAMN DIVISION NOW!!!!!It has been handed to you!!!!


I know why they are running this vanilla offense. They are saving it for the playoffs.

The whole theory of starting fast is to call agressive plays to start and get the lead, sit on the lead and in turn not give teams scouting you anymore then you have to!

The Trifeca is smarter at this football thing then most, that is why they make money doing it and have a better record then most of our fantasy teams.

The truth will soon be evident.

Were the first fifteen plays scripted like most game plans???? Leaves em with only 7 to get creative with LOL

they shouldve ran it more.. in the 4th quarter they had two 3 and outs were they threw on 1&2 down.. They shouldve run and waisted some clock. You might go in there with a plan but you should also adjust. and i know he was compensating for his o-line, but he could stil run sweeps and pitches.

whatever, I'll take the win anyway it comes.

Mando maybe you shud just let me take over this blog if you have such trouble writing it, you can be my assistant.

Miami did run the ball. They ran it (22 times) more than they passed it (20 times)! What more do you want? Should we just bench Pennington and let Ronnie Brown play QB?

And we won the game, so whats it all matter? Remember when OSU beat Miami for the championship? Almost all their wins were ugly, but they still just found a way to win. As long as we win out, I don't care how its done, even if we have to pay off Favre to take a dive.

What a putz, so you know more than Sparano and Henning. If Sparano said the game plan was to pass more against "this team", SF, there must have been good reason.

Like maybe, the Niners have a good run D, or maybe our OL is banged up. Whatever the reason(s) I trust their judgement.

I can not understand why they do not run the ball more with two very good backs (ricky and ronny). This would really eat up the clock and open up the passing game. Each of our backs should be getting a minimum 17 or 18 carries per game.

Well i just got joe a ted ginn jr jersey come on guys he'll be fine......and i hope joe likes his jersey. hahahaha

Hind sight is twenty twenty. I agree with the coach on his decision to start with a more aggressive game plan. One thing Miami has not had any problem with is coughing up the ball, be it on the ground or through the air. There has only been one game this season where they lost in the final minutes due to the defense being unable to contain their opponent, so any past references to previous seasons doesn't hold true.
However, when your opponent starts getting within 7 to 8 points of you, it would be nice to find a way to eat up more of the clock to at least limit their possibilities of scoring. Especially when it becomes obviously they are capable of marching up and down the field, almost at will. 2 passes and a run, does not make for good ball control or clock management. You can get several pass plays in the time it takes for one running play.
Yes, defenses can win games, but not without an occasional turn over. It is discouraging for a team to get within striking distance 4 times and only come away with 9 points.
I suggest they allow Henning to be more creative with the running attack because Miami is going to need more offense to balance their superb defensive capabilities. I hope Miami has plans to unleash some offense before the regular season is done. Perhaps they are keeping it under wraps for the Jets game. Look what happened with the Wildcat variations. Everyone had to consider a defense for it. One at a time now Miami, one at time. Go FINS!

I am like everyone else. I would like to see both Ricky and Ronnie getting 15+ carries a game. Ronnie is making more out of his touches, but dont underestimate your man Ricky when he gets rolling. My guess is that the changes on the O line has lead to lack of confidence up the middle. Also, Chad completes a very high % of his passes, so the shift in strategy is understandable. I agree that we will have something new for the playoffs, probably for the Jets game if its still on the line.

How quickly everybody forgets ;)

Early in the season we had trouble running the ball. We started passing more on 1st down, with a lot of success. This arguably opened up the running game more.

Whether we can go back to trying to be a grind-it-out team and make it work this time I don't know.

Look at the 49ers game, the problem for the offsense was inconsistency. The passing game was 2 big plays and a load of little ones. The running game numbers were also boosted by a couple of big runs in the 4th quarter. The remaining plays were not enough to consistently keep drives going.

And then when they really needed a half-decent run to ice the game, in a situation where the opposition were very confident that run was what they were going to get...two yard loss.

I remember Miami had a 2nd and 2 back around their own 20 to 30 yard line. I believe they ran once and tried a screen but that was dropped. I don't remember how they got the first 8 yards but if you can't get 2 friggin yards in 2 downs there is something wrong. Also speaking of dropped balls, how many screem passes were dropped (4 or 5?)?

There were several pre snap penalties which affected the play calling and the ability to get first downs. Most of the time when a penalty was called it was a 3 and out type of series. Since the line changes were made when Smiley went down the O line has been making more mistakes/penalties which leads to inconsistency on offense. Throw in the loss of Camarillo and its going to take some time to get the offense to gel.

Did you ever see a team that is more inept at running a simple screen play? Anyway, I say take what the defense gives you, avoid mistakes, and play the field position game. but in NJ against the Jest, we are gonna need to cram the ball down their throats via the ground game. I REALLY want to see Pennington eliminate the team that jettisoned him in favor of Farver! LOL

We have two talented running backs,that can also catch passes. Use them that way and we will Win big. These nail biting scores have got to stop. RUN,RUN,RUN! PHINS GO TO PLAYOFFS!

Sparano and parcells are smart. i think they are saving the backs especially ronny for a playoff run. Yes they should have run more against sf, but look at some of the other teams with banged up backs. if we make the postseason I think you will see a heavy dose of pound and ground with our backs.

I agree pretty much with everything you said Mando, with one big BUT. But...I think on that last play on 3rd and 4 at the SF 30 (or so), instead of a pitch out to Ronnie, Chad should have thrown one of those quick outs to a TE or RB coming out of the backfield. All we needed was one more 1st down to put the game away, and we got all conservative (and put our Defense in a precarious situation). The "D" stepped up (this time) but I'd rather have the offense win the game for us (like they've done all year in these close games). Pennington doesn't throw INT's, so I don't think that's a factor. We got lucky, next time might not go so well.

Ry86: If you want to take over, go right ahead. I need a day off. As for the Canes losing to Ohio State, that never happened. The Canes lost to the official calling a phantom pass intereference. That's my story. I'm stickin' with it.

MJZ: Feel free to have a post where you don't insult someone -- especially me. You can just as easily not start your thoughts with, "What a putz," and it probably would be more effective. Put the insult at the end of the post if you feel the need to insult me. It's more effective, you tool.

TonyNico: I was thinking they weren't running enough during the game. Please. Don't even go there.

In response to the "Ronnie Brown's out of here comment", most running backs that don't monitor the amount of carries they have a season after knee surgery, are never 100% again. I think the coaching staff is doing an excellent job at minimizing his carries. He is a young back and lets face it, we are not winning the super bowl this year. So let's just make the playoffs but prepare for a stronger run next year!

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