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Miami's curious offensive view of the world

I am not a football coach. I never played the game beyond pickup games of touch. So I am certainly no Xs and Os expert.

But after 20 seasons of covering the Dolphins and three seasons of covering the Hurricanes during their dynasty years before that, I've picked up things here and there. And I sometimes feel a discomfort about Miami's offensive philosophy.

Here's the deal: The Dolphins are of the mind that more players involved in the offense is better. All those players don't necessarily do all things well. But coaches are very comfortable with their own ability to pick out the things certain "playmakers" do well, and then they put them in the game to do those specialized things.

“I think we are a unique offense in the fact that we use a lot of different personnel, use a lot of different guys to do different things in our offense," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We have unique abilities if you look across the board. We are not typical in that you can point out ‘OK this is their No. 1 guy, this is their No. 2 guy and this is exactly what they do in the run game.’ "

"We are unique in that we have some guys that present some problems to the defense in certain areas and do some really really good things and have some real strong points about them and we are going to accentuate those strong points -- make sure we use every ability that we have out there. Then you throw in the Wildcat and things like that and hopefully it creates a recipe of success.

The Dolphins are also one of those offenses that "takes what the defense gives them." I hate offenses that take what the defense gives them, but more on that later. The Dolphins are very meticulous in seeing how the D is lined up and reacting to that, calling plays that best gives them chances to go to the defense's weakness rather than to its strength.

Consequently, if the defense decides to take something away from the Dolphins, Miami reacts by going away from that thing and picking on another area. Take Sunday's game at Atlanta. The Falcons decided they weren't going to allow Ted Ginn Jr. to get deep on them.

"I think Atlanta came into the game saying ‘Hey, we are not going to let these guys get behind us, especially Ted,' " Pennington said. "They played a lot of soft zone coverage if you watched the film, trying to keep everything in front of them."

Great. So that is the Dolphins telling you what their offense is about so far this season.

Now let me, as a total non-football guy, share my observations and, yes, frustration.

On the spreading the wealth deal: I hate it!

The Dolphins have five, maybe six, playmakers on offense -- Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Patrick Cobbs (surprising but true), and Greg Camarillo.

No, I did not include Anthony Fasano or Davone Bess or Brian Hartline or anybody else because I've not seen those players light up an NFL defense. They might have caught routine passes. They might have scored a routine TD here or there, but none have, to my recollection, done anything extra-ordinary.

The point I'm making is the Dolphins, in my estimation, are so busy spreading the wealth that they forget who their playmakers are.

It should be a MUST for Miami to give Ronnie Brown the ball 25 times on offense. Period. Get him 20 carries and five receptions. Get him 15 carries and 10 passes that go for 5 yards and feel like runs. Get the ball in his hands 25 times per game somehow. Maximize his opportunities to hurt the defense.

It should be a MUST for Miami to get Ricky Williams the ball 10 times per game on offense. Give him a chance to run downhill at defenders, which few runners do any more. And if he's having success, let him do it some more rather than throwing a pass to Joey Haynos. Let Ricky pound the defense!

And it should be a MUST for Miami to put the ball in Ginn's hands 10 times a game. Throw it to him deep even if the coverage says don't. Here's an idea, throw it to him short -- on a slant, or on a bubble screen. If the defense is going to play deep, do the other things to get Ginn the ball short. But get him the ball!

The Dolphins offense needs to indentify its playmakers and author ways of getting those playmakers involved. We shouldn't look back on a game and say, "Boy, Ronnie got 10 carries, we need to do better." Do better during the game. Force the action!

That brings me to the "take what the defense gives us" mumbo-jumbo. Great offenses attack, they don't sit back and wait to be dictated to by the defense.

Example: You think defenses of yesteryear didn't try to take away Mark Clayton from Dan Marino? You think defenses didn't try to roll their coverages to Jerry Rice's side?

You think defenses today don't try to keep Randy Moss and Tom Brady from going deep? Or load the box against Adrian Peterson?

Of course they do. But those offenses still try to put the ball in the hands of their playmakers regardless of the defensive strategy. Remember, there is always a response, another avenue, to accomplish the same goal.

If the Falcons are trying to take away Ted Ginn deep, hand him the ball on an end around (without asking him to throw, which he isn't good at anyway). Throw a screen to him. Throw a sideline pass to him. Throw another sideline route to him. Now you've set up a double move. And what's wrong with launching one just to keep the defense honest, if nothing else. Who knows ... maybe Ginn comes up with it.

The point is if you are going to wave a white flag on using one of your better players merely because the defense wants you to, you are defeated already unless you have a ton of other playmakers. And the Dolphins do not have a ton.

The strange thing is the Dolphins didn't fall into this trap last year. They ran the Wildcat package even when it wasn't surprising people last year. They did what they did no matter what.

Now the Dolphins look like an offense with no identity because it wants to have many identities. Bess and Fasano are nice complimentary players. But sound offensive football is about using your feature players, not the guys from the background.

And sound offensive football is more often about taking from the defense that which it does not want to give -- the end zone. It is not always about taking what the defense is giving you.


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agreed. I suppose if your playing the Ravins D then yes, then yes, take what they give you. For everyone else, run the damn ball.

Bravo, Armando! While I might disagree that Ricky should get the ball only 10x a game and I think Ginn needs the ball in space while he's moving, not on little short screens, your overall message is, in my humble opinion, right on. Also, don't discount Haynos just yet, I think his size (and athleticism for that size) creates mismatches against most defenses that Miami needs to exploit. He's a guy that is a TD threat inside the 40, and can make a 25-30 yard play and 2-3 10-12 yard plays a game.

You're right!!! How can this team be in such a quandry over how to get the offense to move the ball and score points? They've had since last January to think about this, and then all those minicamps, practices, and preseason games to work it out. Come on already!!!

This is probably the best post you have ever had Armando.

I agree that they need to give Ronnie the ball more.

YES Mando you hit the nail on the head.
It is a must that Ronnie Brown get the ball 25-30 times per game. He is our work horse. the more you give him the ball the better he gets. As for Ginn let face it he is a #2 WR. Let use him like boldin a lot of slants. With his speed he can get more yards this way. Guy Boldin is a #2 WR next to Larry. In Miami he would be a #1.

When you read armando's post today you can tell it's not enough to play pro football to know a lot in a smart way to write a sport article tackling the offense in the dolphins team.it's a good read and connect many quotes and thoughts and figuring few things out .GOOD JOB ARMANDO.

Good post! Sometimes during the game The DB covering Ginn is 10 yards off of him at the line. The play should be a quick slant, but they never do it!

Great article Armando. It was very well thought out...

I would love to see them just pound Ronnie and Ricky down the Colts throats... Then when they load the box, look to go over the top to Ginn, or to Fasano, Bess, or Camarillo on the short effective routes...

We need to keep the defense on their toes and throw a couple bombs to Ginn a game...

Lastly, I know most of you will probaly disagree with me, but I really like what they tried to do with Pat White. I think that a small package of 3-5 plays for him can be effective. That long pass to Ginn will start dropping if they continue working on it, as there is no denying his arm strength. He has a laser!

Mando you got suckered in on that one. All offenses take what is given them, if they line up in press man on man you throw deep, if they play off you throw short. if they have nine in the box you don't try to run.

Also, you utilize the skills of your players. Do the vikes throw to adrian peterson? Not so much. You took canned standard answers and are tying to make a big deal of it.


Armando, your best post ever because it's what I've been saying all along ;)

Armando, someone finally points out what I have been saying, thank you! The play calling needs to get better. The other thing is that if they give Ronnie and Ricky more touches the offensive line will come together a whole lot faster. This line was built for run blocking.

Furthermore, the atlanta game dictated the play calling. If you think Pennington is on par with marino, or brown on par with Adrian peterson you need to set down the crack pipe.

Gary stevens said it best "you can't make chicken salad with chicken $hit". You should write for the pop warner league.


of course you take what the other team gives you but armando saying don't play all your game watiing for them to give you some thing .there's a difference there shaggy boy .


SHAGGY .....you are a clown pretend to know football

SHAGGY .....you are a clown pretend to know football

Posted by: savanh |

You sir, are illiterate "PRETEND" to know anything.

Thank you for this article, you hit the nail on the head. I have been saying this for a while, teams know how to play us well. All the Fins will do is run the ball to the right or left and maybe up the middle and they can only throw thw ball maybe 10 yards so lets not worry about the deep ball just contain the short part of the field.
I don't know what Sparano means by "these problems with the line can be corrected, it might take a few games before it happens"
A few games? Did'nt you have the entire summer with training camp?
Don't give the crap either that "Offensive lines need time to gel"
Look at the Patroits last weekend TWO of thier starting guards were ROOKIES.
San Diego had thier left tackle ankle rolled up on him and then Nick Hardwick thier center went out and they inserted a new guy who has NEVER played an NFL game a center. Then the Chargers took that guy moved him to guard and inserted another player to play center. They won and their line looked fine.
The problem with the Phins is they always get second tier players and NEVER first rate guys.
1. Instead of signing the Ravens center in free agency we took Grove who can't block and has been injured.
2. Instead of signing Fanaca last year we got the oft-injured Smiley, which got injured imagine that.
3. Instead of signing Shawn Springs or Bryant Mcfaaden they signed Eric Green who lost his job in Arizona to a ROOKIE.The Phins let him go because he was suspect in coverage what a surprise!
4. Instaed of trying to get Calvin Pace or Bart Scott Miami resigned Crowder who is good but not a game changer.
5. Instead of getting a top 10 reciver in the draft we got Patrick Turner? Who the hell is that I said when they drafted him. The knack on him was never really lived up to his expectations in college. Guess what he can't even crack the line up. That's awful considering MANY rookie wideouts caught T.D. passes this weekend and plenty who did'nt still looked promising.
5. The knock on Long was he can't handle speed rushers, gee what's happening?
Did'nt the staff notice last season we don't have any recivers who can catch a T.D. pass or let alone get open and the offense lacked any spark? What about all preseason it was clear the offense could not block and we were'nt scoring points.
These problems are not new at all. What about special teams? Last year the sucked and what did Tony do to improve them? NOTHING!
More dum desicions like inserting Pat White and Killing the momentum along with DEACTIVATING Cameron Wake for the game. We are never going to have a championship team with this staff. Last year was a fluke we are done....


Really great post Armando, I totally agree. I would like our offense to have the mentality of our defense. We need to be aggressive not passive, proactive not reactive, etc. Parcells and company want big physical players so we can let other teams dictate what our offense does?

Give the ball to the play makers and trust them to make things happen. It will not work every play but will work enough over the course of a game to get the "chunky" yardage Sparano wants.

More aggressive play-calling also tells your offense you believe in them. This type of play calling tells them you don't believe in them and over time the players will believe it and play accordingly.

Sure the game is like a chess match, probing for your opponents' weaknesses and creating mismatches, but sometimes you just gotta play checkers.

Some of you cats are clueless. That being the case, I say we make Armando O coordinator and Tinshaker QB coach.

You cats know more than Henning and Sparano. LOL

football teams starts one QB and let him play the whole game .not changing after 12 minutes like we are playing BASKETBALL .

good point TOM .shaggy should read your post .

football teams starts one QB and let him play the whole game .not changing after 12 minutes like we are playing BASKETBALL .

good point TOM .shaggy should read your post .

That is the best blog you have ever written Armando. The only way to challenge a defense is to get it to do the things it does not want to do, not the other way around. Keep it coming!

and make shaggy a hot dog vender .

I totally agree with you. We looked confused/schizophrenic out there.

By the way, condolences to you and your family.


Nice......I see a pattern forming. Hahahaha give up hoss,you are making this too easy.

Tom and Shaggy, you two are not looking at this blog properly. Shaggy, you have to make the defense respect you sometimes. Tom, the players we have can get the job done if given the chance to. All real Phins fans will hope that the Trifecta reads this blog and try to make things happen on offense, instead of waiting for the defense to make a mistake.

so tired of saying that Ronnie needs 20-30 touches a game! It's amazing that thru 3 different sets of coaching staffs they yield the same result! Why doesn't this man touch the ball more. He is a beast! He would wear down the defense! Ricky only needs to be in there to spell Ronnie if he needs a breather... Other than that it should be all Ronnie. Sad to say as sorry as Cam was that yer was gonna be Ronnies best before he was hurt! and Tedd Ginn def needs the ball in his hands more. What's going on??????

and make shaggy a hot dog vender .

Posted by: savanh

Vender? Hahahahahahahahaha

Valid points Mando, but you are WAY to frustrated and writing as if we were 0-4 and scored a total of 10 points..

This was the FIRST game, in a hostile environment and we played an elite team.. They came out flat, but I'm confident they will improve; if they don't, then re-post this article in a few weeks.

P.S. Abraham will lead the NFL in sacks!! He's a freak!! No coach can teach Long what he learned this game and he will grow from it.

To me it is about RHYTHM. When Pennington completes some passes, don't yank him for a cold Pat White. Also, pick a back and ride him. I say it is Williams. Give him 25 carries and let's see how we run the ball.

the bills came last week against the pats and they had a game plan for their offense and they were great and played like hell w/ young QB who played the whole game and the COACH let his team play not trying to control every play and make his players confused like chickens .

Some valid points and an overall good blog !

However ,

"But sound offensive football is about using your feature players, not the guys from the background."

I would think you use the tools you have , no special tools, no special focus!


"I am not a football coach. I never played the game beyond pickup games of touch. So I am certainly no Xs and Os expert."

Yet you are able to analyze the Dolphins complete offensive strategy and design from one four turnover loss on the first day of the season. Simply amazing!

That same Coach should be fired for not telling Leodis to take a knee.....They lost.

they were up by more than 7 points and that's how every one learns not by sitting on the side line for 3 years like henne .worry about your team and let others worry the bills .

Yet you are able to analyze the Dolphins complete offensive strategy and design from one four turnover loss on the first day of the season. Simply amazing!

Posted by: westernfin

Exactly. This blog and 99% of the posters are clueless.


were you happy w/ the way your team looked on the field like scared hens w/ no offense and no QB AND NO COACH and no energy .

peace to all ,have a good day .

this is a nice way of saying OUR OFFENSE SUCKS!!!!!! which it does.

"The Dolphins have five, maybe six, playmakers on offense -- Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Patrick Cobbs (surprising but true), and Greg Camarillo.

No, I did not include Anthony Fasano or Davone Bess or Brian Hartline or anybody else because I've not seen those players light up an NFL defense"

i sure would like to know the games where you saw cobbs, ginn or camarillo light up a nfl defense.

and it isnt rocket science to know we should be giving the ball to ronnie 20-25 times a game. what next, you going to tell us, on defense, we need to stop teams from converting third and longs

Excellent excellent column Armando.

Exactly what I've been saying on the SS boards all week.

To Shaggy. I see your point. All offenses try to take advantages of percieved defensive weaknesses, but those are in game adjustments that are made to the game plan that's put into place the week before. Armando's saying you don't go into a game with no gameplan and just see what the defense will allow you, you have a game plan and stick to it until the defense DICTATES that you make an adjustment. If establishing the run wasn't part of the game plan vs. ATL it's poor game planning IMO. If it was, they went away from the game plan IN SPITE of the fact that ATL didn't DICTATE that adjustment. (IE...we got 4+ yards a carry and ran it what 20 times?)

Totaly agree with u. We need to get our core players a chance to shine. Let them stack 8 in the box, I've seen Ronnie run over guys and still gain 5 to 8 yards. Teddy defintly needs the ball.

I agree. Get Ronnie the ball more!

"P.S. Abraham will lead the NFL in sacks!! He's a freak!! No coach can teach Long what he learned this game and he will grow from it.

No way he leads the NFL in sacks (for the season). He can't stay healthy. The rest of what you say is spot on though!

"i sure would like to know the games where you saw cobbs, ginn or camarillo light up a nfl defense."

I don't really like ESPN, but generally their offensive highlights come from plays where a defense got "lit up".

You could easily youtube some of these players to see examples, but then you might have to stop hating for a minute...so take that into consideration before you watch.


Here we go again. FFR hates Ginn and thinks I have an unfounded mancrush on him. (there...no we can forego the argument FFR!)


You are dead on. We need more commitment to running Ronnie Brown 20-25 times a game, mixing in Ricky at least 10 times. If we do this consistently it will open up opportunities for Ginn down the field. If we don't our offense will be completeing 7 yard passes on 3rd & 8 all year long.


I think you are right.

Your arguments make sense !


P.S. you are gaining waight......

Greg Camarillo is not a playmaker !

Give the ball at Ronnie like a real #1 HB. Ricky is OK for the 3rd down. The Miami offense without Wildcat package is too bland. Please, let Ginn on the field and give him the ball like a real #1 WR.

Here are my problems with your analysis, Armando:

1) Davone Bess is a playmaker. He is eerily similar to Wes Welker: sure hands, great cutting ability, can catch the ball in traffic, and unlike most Dolphins' receivers historically he actually has the ability to separate himself from defenders. Greg Camarillo and Bess are similar that way.

2) I'm fearing that Ted Ginn will be a complete bust. He reminds me of Mark Duper on the downside of his career. Great speed, but unimpressive ability to run after the catch. Ginn seems to look for someplace to fall down after he catches the ball. Remember Mark Clayton? He was FANTASTIC after the catch. I don't think that confidence and courage can be taught.

"2) I'm fearing that Ted Ginn will be a complete bust."

Yet you compare him to Duper.

If you're "afraid" of that why wouldn't you back a plan to get him the ball more often so you can find out for sure?

Or maybe you're already judging him to be a bust so you don't want to see what he can do for fear he'll prove you wrong?

Love this post, Armando. it is bang on accurate and explains the frustration I was feeling while watching the game against the falcons.

Our offensive approach has been way too passive. They need to do what they do best. If that is not good enough, get the right players... but don't try to just do what defenses give us.. There is no way any one of our playmakers perform to their potential if they don't get the damn ball.

Agreed. Mando, this is your Best.Post.Ever.


All I can say is Amen...! well said and the frustration of not going out and finding play makers this offseason seems like a pretty wasteful way to prepare for the toughest schedule...

Pat White was a wasted pick that could have been used more wisely inside of trying to force the expansion of the wildcat - that EVERYONE and their mom is now ready for....

I believe in the Atlanta Falcon's Defensive Strategies,...

take what Fasano gives to you, no
take what Chad Pennington gives to you, or

I was at the game, sad I know, and it felt like the 2007 1-15 Dolphins. Every move the offense made was met by the opposition.

Even sader, every time they seem to get the ball moving,... the refs would make the most terrible call of their lives, their father's and grand-father's live too. Honestly I HATE the refs in the NFL. Their were about 3 game changing calls "phantom calls". Thanks Losers

Well at least they're not taking away touchdowns from us like they did the Raiders, correction they did take away a touchdown from us. Damn it!

I especially agree with you about Ronnie Brown. I absolutely, sincerely believe he is a 1500 yard back. But he just doesnt get the carries. I think with 20 carries and this offensive line, he would easily get 100 yards a game. He is a big, fast, athletic, monster. Get him the ball.

It has always occurred to me that a quarterback with a strong arm (I'm not talking laser, but strong enough) doesn't have to worry about turnovers as much because he has the space to make instinctual throws. Penny doesn't have that space. There is a much smaller window on what Penny can do, even if his football acumen is high. I'm not calling on Henne...tempted, but not doing it. I am simply noticing that such intellectual passers, I think of Montana first, had a great arm (not incredible but great). He could make all of the passes needed and his accuracy was incredible. Penny has great accuracy and decent arm strength and incredible football acumen. He's tried to prove everybody wrong but reality is that he can't hit Ginn deep and receivers often have to stop and wait for the ball.

7-9 no playoffs.

I personally think that we should use Offense the same way we use Defense. ATTACK!!!! NCFINFAN

Wow, for the first time ever I agree with you Armando. Great job!

This the best post you have written. I agree, get me some touches. Put the ball in my hands and lets see what happens.

Great post Armando. Well said- I agree 120%.

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