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Miami's curious offense? Dan Henning responds

If you read the headline and it doesn't make sense, that's probably because you haven't read the initial post on the topic, just below this one.

Please do that now. If you don't want to and just want the synopsis so you can get right into Dan Henning's response then here it is: I posted that it doesn't make sense to spread the ball around to eight or so guys on offense when only two or three -- Ronnie Brown, Chad Pennington, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr. -- are truly dangerous playmakers.

I wrote the Dolphins should find a way to feed their best offensive players, even at the expense of other so-called weapons like Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano. I'm not saying shut down Bess and Fasano, but let's get our priorities straight.

And I wrote the Dolphins should be more stubborn in doing what they do well -- which hasn't been a lot from what we've seen the past two meaningful games vs. Baltimore and Atlanta. If you're going to lose, go down doing what you do best, not that thing you do third of fourth best.

Well, the timing of the post is good because on Thursdays the Dolphins coordinators speak to the media. So I and other reporters asked Henning about these issues.

On the subject of letting the defense dictate to his offense, more commonly known as taking what the defense gives you this is what Henning believes:

"I think anybody ... you better have a very, very good [offense] to think you're going to go out and impose your will on the opposition. People are too good in this league. There are too many resources with tape and video to be able to know what you're doing and how to stop it. If you have a great running game, they can stop a great running game. I mean, we stopped last week a very good running game in Atlanta. I don't know if they were No. 1 or No. 2 but we stopped them. We only gave them 68 yards.

"In the meantime Atlanta said, 'Well, if you're going to stop that, we'll take this.' And I think everybody has to have that package that way. If you don't, you're going to be stubborn and you're going to lose some games you should win. And you're going to win some games you should win automatically. I believe you have to have packages where you have certain plays you like based on your personnel and then you have counters to those plays -- whether they be reverses, counter traps, counter plays from the particular play your featuring. Then you see what they do and how they're trying to stop your featured players and build into them. What happens is sometimes those counter plays do better than your basic plays. That don't make any difference as somewhere along, you move the football. Because they're trying to take that away, they give you the big one. Last year, that's what happened to us a number of times with the Wildcat operation and even in some other areas where we would run some reverses with Teddy and so forth.

"Then all of the sudden, people say, 'Why don't you do that more? Why don't you make the trick play your base?' Well, the trick play don't work unless you got something to make them stop some strong part of your offense over here."

Salguero response: So your offense can only do one thing well? Why can't you run the ball with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and throw the ball well on a number of varied routes to Ginn?

On the subject of getting the ball more to Brown and Williams, the topic that really, really bugs me most:

"Now, you didn't include Pat Cobbs in there," Henning said. "We have those three backs. We have a tight end everyone wants to get the ball to and last year we had David Martin on top of that. Then we have Bess, and Camarillo and Teddy. And if you get 60 snaps a game and you're ahead in the game, let's say you're ahead in the game, the last 15 snaps will be runs, they're not going to be passes. So the first 45 have to split up between about eight guys. OK?

"You put eight into 45, what are we going to get here? How many carries are we going to get? If you're running the ball well and you're ahead, Ronnie and Ricky are going to get a lot of balls. If you get behind in the game -- like we only had 12 snaps with 22 minutes gone in the game -- you have to determine what do we want to do. We have a couple of things in the Wildcat. We have a couple of things with Pat White. We have a couple of things we haven't even explored yet with Chad Pennington. Well, my intentions are usually to try to leave the ball in the hands of Pennington and try and get the game back in synch and utilize Pat White and the Wildcat in the featured places we like to use them ...

"...That's the way the game's played. You feel fortunate, I feel fortunate, I've never been on a team with three backs as good as these three. Now I've been on a team with maybe a back -- I remember William Andrews when I had him with Atlanta and he's the best back I've ever coached and I was with John Riggins -- but three  guys that can do what these three guys can do, run, catch and block, we're fortunate to have them. At the end of the year if between the three of them we have 2,000 yards, I'll be happy. Now last year we had [1,623 yards rushing] with those guys. And we had 60-something catches between David and Fasano and that was a good blend. Then we had three receivers who caught almost 55 a piece -- Teddy, [Camarillo] and Bess. So we spread it around pretty good.

"So I'll say this to you and you asked my philosophy: If you've got a stud, I learned this from Hayden Fry 37 years ago. He gave a talk on the FTS offense. that was the heading for his talk. And I looked at it and said, 'What the hell is the FTS?' He said the FTS is Feed The Stud. He was at SMU, he had one good player. So he played him at quarterback, at receiver, he played him at running back ... If you have a stud, you better get him the ball."

Salguero response: Patrick Cobbs is a nice player, but please don't equate him with Brown and Williams. Don't insult us that way. Also, Miami studs are Ronnie and Ricky, are they not? So why are we talking about throwing to Bess or Fasano in the same sentence?

And does the stud change game to game?

"No, on this team I feel we have a blend of tremendous talent," Henning said. "Now stud, that's a word you go to when you say, 'I have this guy but I don't have a lot of other auxiliary pieces. So I'm going to feed this guy,' you know what I mean? There were times in Carolina we'd feed Steve Smith because he was the stud. In 2004 we got every one of our running backs hurt. Well Steve Smith was hurt also so we fed Muhsin Muhammad and that was the best year he ever had. We fed him because we didn't have a lot of other things going.

"Feed the stud is I got this outstanding talent and I have a blend of people around him and I don't have a lot of other auxiliary pieces. I'm getting the ball to that guy somehow in the course of the game. Right now I think they're all studs."

Salguero response: Cannot disagree more. They are not all studs. Dolphins don't have any studs if you define them the way Henning does. They have several supremely talented players, such as Brown and Williams. But everyone else is an auxiliary player. Why confuse the issue?

The Dolphins don't have eight players that scare a defense. They have Pennington, they have Williams, Brown, and they have Ginn. Get those guys the ball more. Don't ignore the other guys, but don't led Bess catch seven passes while Ginn gets only three.

Prioritize the ball distribution based on who your most talented and dangerous players are. Then feed them. Figure it out.

Your thoughts? 

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Sorry fellas I was furiously pounding my pud; just finished, but glad you missed me. Does anyone have anything for blistering? Oh the Pain!

Armando, I couldn't agree more with your views of this offense. This is the third year in a row that we criticise Ted Ginn, but how is the guy supposed to show you something, if the offensive philosophy is to spread the ball around. How come other teams recognize who there playmakers are and they get them the ball.The dolphins need to focus on one running back and hand him the ball 25 times a game. I am so sick of this spread the wealth offense. Lastly, Henning needs to stop overrating the wide receivers and tight ends on this team. In short, this team needs offensive playmakers.

i will take care of youpain with my mouth odinbaby

Armando not saying youre right but your point is valid. How many championships do the early 70's Dolphins win using Mercury Morris to set up Czonk, or Marlin Briscoe to set up Paul Warfield?

It worked out perfect vice versa, 17-0 perfect!

Thanks but no thanks, I already have a boyfriend.

The U Swagger is back! Go Canes!

While I still fundamentally agree with Armando, and disagree with Henning when he says that no offense can dictate to defenses in today's NFL. Good offenses do just that. As much as I hate the Patriots, to years ago everyone knew exactly what they were going to do, and it took the Giants their second try to figure out how to stop it.

The problem is like most things in life, this isn't a simple black and white situation. obviously you want to take advantage of mis-matches and exploit the defenses weaknesses, but you also want to play to your strengths, which the defense is obviously going to try to take away. That seems so obvious to me, but it does not follow that you need to therefore abandon your strength, which is also obvious.

I think it's true that Henning is trying to be diplomatic when talking about his personnel, who by and large do not give him the option of daring defenses to stop them.

By the way, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the irony of us playing the Falcons and our former OC "Trick Play" Mularkey, when he was the one running the conventional offense, while we were trying all the trick stuff.

Ok first of all its week one. No need to throw our OC under the bus. We still have 15 games left to play, and a lot of talent offenses stumbled this week. Most of them were against teams not half as talented as Atlanta. ex. San Diego/Oakland....I agree some of the play calls might not have been ideal, but you can't win football games with four turnovers period. Had the offense held onto the ball I think we would have hit pay dirt a lot more often.

Mondo the old FTS idea works in a domanant team but when they are not quite there yet you need to spread the ball around. I do agree that the RBs need a few more carries with their above average YPC but if that is all your doing the box will get stacked. Our line does not look real good at pass blocking yet so it is a bit hard to take advantage of a stacked box.

I do think that Pat White should stay on the sidelines for now. I am not saying he is bad but if he is the 2nd QB it means that he will be the one that comes in if Penny is hurt. I do not think he is ready for that just yet where as Henne is ready. Putting White on the roster as #2 is a dangerous proposition.

Mando, one of your best articles ever!! I couldnt agree with you more. Weirdly, Henning needs to feed the ball to Ronnie the same way Cam Cameron did. Cam wasn't an idiot but man can generate numbers for RBs,,Notice how well they run the rcok in bmore and how well LT did in san diego before cameron left

This is really a great post. Way to "keep them honest." You are the Anderson Cooper of the Dolphins.

We have no #1anything,We have 4 #2's, maybe.Brown maybe the best #2 in the league but that does not change the fact that we have NO #1.So who does the defence have to focus on?No one,because they can play a base D.Make someone the main man and focus on him and if he does well it will open up the rest of the offence.Brees,LT,peyton,mjd,big ben,T.O,calvin j,bouldin,fitz,colston,wayne,moss,jacobs,smith,A.J,rodgers,jennings,ocho,edwards,L.J,and that guy from minn.ect.Ask any non fin fan to name a dolphin and????????maybe you will get penny.What WE need to do is establish a #1,QB,RB whatever.But they must make someone step up or there is no acountability.sorry fumble fingers

ya I'm pissed

Bottom line with an offensive line of new guys they need time to gel so we are going to have to wear down defenses with our big backs all three of them. We have them we need to use them and wear down d lines. If we can't hold a pass rush long enough then you go with play action and make them back off. I think they didn't do a good job of setting up plays in the game. Last year they did an exceptional job of playing to our strengths I think they know that and Dan Henning will get it fixed this week. Bottom line Indy will start off getting a heavy dose of Ronnie, Ricky, and Cobbs and by the 4th quarter the defense will be so tired that we can beat them with the short passes and chew up clock. Just like we did last year.

Hey Armando I have to disagree with u 100% if u only utilize so called "studs" then why the hell are u paying these other players for. It's funny how all these I agree with Armando posts are the only ones up. I think ur post is idiotic!!! And I'm loving what our coaching staff is doing it's entertaining. And in the end isn't that why we watch the game???

Mando,

thats why you are writing blogs and Henning is a NFL coach for 100 years or so. Just to even think you know whats going on is an insult to everybody here. Better start supporting the Fins than doing negative blogs like this.

1) Ginn sucks and is not even close to being a stud (I really like the Parcells quote - if they dont bite as puppies they never bite - there you got your answer - by the way Bess is biting from day 1 - please spell Bess Welker)

2) How successful was this same old offense philosophy last year without turnovers? Please look it up and post it!

3) If your O-line lets the pocket collapse as many times as vs. ATL your QB better uses the hot player instead of the stud player (if you dont understand this one you better do some homework)

4) Watch MNF - please!!! Then post an article on tuesday about the Colts and HOF QB Manning using all their players not just one stud player and how stupid that was. By the way if Reggie Wayne has 150y receiving you might wanna go back to Hennings comments and ask yourself if this might be because A.Gonzales is hurt and they dont have anyone else anymore to throw the ball to.

Cheers

The reason Ginn shouldn't get to 100 this year even though Smith does is simple - Ginn isn't nearly as good as Smith.

Harper was a weapon for the Cowboys because they had Irvin. Just like Ginn would be a weapon for us if we had Moss or AJ.

Chad has shown that he can get Ginn the ball when he wants to. What TGJ hasn't shown is that he's willing to sell out on every snap, fight for his routes and the ball. The one chance he got at a big play against the Falcons was lost because he shut it down when he had a step on 2 guys going straight down the middle of the field. And Pennington is not going to go deep to a guy who has proven time and time again that he'll let any DB who's mean to him steal his routes or give up on the play if he's not feeling it unless it's a sure thing.

Ronnie will get his when he shows he wants them. Been that way with him for 3 years now, seems to be a trend. He never gets going until at least week 3, even in 2007 - the only year he looked like a first round pick. It's odd that our fearless writer makes much of the fact that he got 4.4 YPC even though he looked like he was running in mud, but gives no credit to the rest of the offensive strategy that allowed that to happen. Well, maybe not so odd.

And by the way - the Canes crushed #14 Georgia Tech last night by taking what the defense gave them. 7 receivers got the ball. Armando should come down to Coral Gables and see if he can grill Whipple about his weak offensive strategy.

After watching the Falcons dominate, I realized that it's time for Chad pennington to step aside, yes he's smart, great game manager. But he doesn't take big risk at all and teams knows it......teams r all over the wildcat this is the NFL not pop Warner...we need star power n more creative offensive plays...let go phins...

Mando is right on.....we need to run the ball much more. Ronnnie should have 15-18 carries and Ricky should have close to 10. If the problem is the offensive line, then Parcells and company screwed up. When you have a line worth 150 million, you should be able to run and pass protect, thus getting the ball into our playmakers hands. Maybe, Henning likes you use all his pieces but last time I checked most teams in the NFL don't spread the ball amongst a million players. I know it worked last year but most if not all of our big plays came from gimmicks so hope that continues to work.

Playmakers are playmakers and you shouldn't have to forcefeed them the ball.

Duper and Clayton didn't get and share the ball because of a precontrived plan to get them the ball. They got open within the framework of the offense and made the plays when they had the chance.

They got the ball a lot because they got open a lot.

There is not one player on the Dolphins capable of putting the team on his back and carrying them. Not Ronnie Brown. Not Ricky Williams. Not Chad Pennington. Not Ted Ginn. Given that I agree with the philosophy of spreading it around. And it always comes down to execution and team play. There are many examples of stud players carrying teams on his back and teams not winning (Marino, for one)....So, what do you want to do? Develop a star or win games?

Why does anyone think Ginn is a "stud"? He's OK, but he wouldn't be starting for many teams in the league. What are you basing this high appraisal of Ginn on?

I couldn't disagree more. Despite the fact that all of us want Ricky and Ronnie to be studs. They are nothing more than above average running backs. Certainly wouldn't put them in the stud category. and yes, I would put Cobbs not too far behind ronnie and ricky. As a matter of fact i would be so bold to say that he is a better back to even have in the game on third downs. He could possibly even be a feature back if given the chance. He has done nothing but make one big play after the other every chance he has gotten.

Henning said what any Dolphins fan with a good set of eyes already knows, we have no studs on this team. There is no Steve Smith, there is no Peyton Manning, there is no Ladanian Tomlinson. We do not have the offense to impose our will on defenses, especially with a weak armed QB.

Turnovers and execution were our problem on Sunday not the play calling. If White hits Ginn, then people would still be raving about the Trick plays. If Fasano doesn't fumble twice, then our offense gains momentum and this game is much closer if not in our favor.

I have not seen the Brightness in Cobbs everyone claims he has...However, the new tools on this offense are sitting on the bench I think. Rex Hilliard was incredible in preseason, they need to work him in and we need some deep balls to go to Brian Hartline, and Pat Turner... I know calling for the rookies to come out and perform and be put in the mix is alot, but besides the trick plays, and good pass plays to ricky and teddy I think the offense seems soft...

Henning knows more than Salguiero, lets just leave it at that.

I can understand Henning's response. there is talent, but the talent is not showing, as indicated by Brown getting 33 yards carrying the ball.

Trying to mix new blood, bring those who have been on the team who have yet to prove their value of claims made of them before we picked them in the drafts all play part.

A good running back should produce at least a 100 yards a year, and we have not seen that. More or less, we see more penalties that cause issues with the offense. At times I think the OC is afraid to let these guys perform as they should.

Pennington is an average QB, and will not be considered a threat by any team. Therefore the offensive line, receivers need to step up. One can see the stud, as in Marino, where he could make things happen on his own, but he still needed receivers who could catch the ball.

I think there needs to be more defining of what is expected of these million dollar babies on the field. They want the money, fame, and credit, but are giving maybe 50% of what they are known to give.

I do not see it only the fault of the coaches, but the players and their willingness to perform 110% whether they like the coach or not, feel lazy, or want more money.

The so-called weapons mean nothing if the team does not function as a team, in wanting the same goal without always having the personal needs of the players coming in.

Mando,

The reason for football being a team sport is that the whole team contributes. If Ginn weren't out there then Cammy and Bess would not be getting the passes that they get. Neither would Fasano, Williams, Brown, or Cobb.

When the Fins had Paul Warfield, why wasn't he fed every ball by Griese? In high school, our team scrimmaged against Manhaset and Jim Brown. They FTS and the whole team would be needed to stop him. The stud's team didn't win state and national renown. Dan Marino, IMHO, was the greatest passer ever. His team did not win any Super Bowls. It takes a complete team to win. A good coach maximizes what he has. A good GM works to provide the coach with what he needs to win.

I will take Salguero over Henning to write on sports. I WILL TAKE HENNING OVER SALGUERO TO BE AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR.

Michael

I can only hope Henning is trying to throw a curve to INDY's game-planning. They need to feed Ronnie/Ricky Monday night. This low-powered passing team has no chance if they cannot move the chains.

I only have one disagreement w/ Armando's excellent post. Ted Ginn gets fewer looks/touches for two reasons. First, he's afraid to get hit. When the O-line breaks down, Chad cannot wait till Ted gets 15yds downfield. Second, he will not run full speed with the ball (per reason #1).

I Second "Willy Perez-Feria" Post... As a former coach and player, I always go with this saying... "Players win the game, Coaching Looses them" but last week the players lost the game with the turnovers. We were inside ATL's 50 a few times, but a turnover, an interception, another fumble.. I think the game planning is there for this week and expect to see a lot better performance Monday... Coordinators use the best of their tools in the game and learn how to adjust during it... Not the coaches fault for the turnovers but at the same time its not panic mode. This isn't week 14 with the playoff at stake. We'll turn it around, I believe in this Regime/Coaching Staff. Last year we started 0-2 so its no time to panic peoples. Just remember "On any given Sunday"... GO DOLPHINS!!!

Mando, after reading your blogs, I often question how much you really know about the Miami Dolphins or NFL football for that matter.

Dolphins have a lot of grade B, good, solid players. There is really not a totally dominant stud on the team. Ronnie Brown is excellent with a lower number of carries per game but has never been a heavy carry load RB ever. What Henning is saying is that he has to use all the talents on the team, to be outside the box with the Wildcat, to be unpredictable because that - together with not making mistakes - is how you win with this talent level - as we did last year. Hopefully this year some start start to emerge - Smith and Davis, hopefully White (although that might take a couple of seasons), etc. But we will not win just getting the ball to Brown and Williams and Ginn because none of them can succeed when the opposing defenses see a simplified Miami offense and key on them. Henning is playing chess not checkers.

A good offense ???? Okay most of you guys on this post seem to know your football. Being a fan for so long I feel like I can predict if we run or pass by the way we line up and seeing the formations from game to game . Im not saying I can guess everytime but Im saying 75 percent of the time is real not just on 3rd and 50 .. This makes me feel like were not fooling anyone with our play selections ? Does anyone else notice this ???

First time blogger - that's how gd frustrated I am after watching the end of that game. Probably the most frustrated since the loss to San Diego in like 94-95ish playoffs.

The 'phins played hard but wtf happened at the end. Why on earth would we run the ball on 3rd and 6 w/ 5 minutes left in the game to setup a field goal w/ Peyton Manning across the sidelines? You KNOW he's going to orchestrate a TD drive. Then the clock management and play calling at the end. No urgency and running play action passes in OBVIOUS passing situations. WOW...I guess instead of trying to fool the Indy D the 'phins were trying to downright mystify them w/ rediculous play calls. Our team has become a complete gimmick...just like what you would see at a live show of one of our limited owners. Lots of razzle dazzle, smoke and mirrors and nothing w/ sustenance. I know we started 0-2 last year but lets face it...with our schedule we are not making the playoffs this year. I appreciate the hard work and effort Chad has put in, but lets look to the future, put in one of our "future QB's" who can at least scare teams downfield and play for some explosive draft picks.

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