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Dolphins need to nurture momentum

Momentum is an amazing thing in football. It neither wears a uniform nor schemes strategy, but it definitely plays a prominent role in helping to determine the outcome to NFL games.

The Dolphins are familiar with Big Mo. He was a friend last year, as one improbable win at New England snowballed and grew into a dramatic season-long turnaround.

Big Mo was not quite so friendly to the Dolphins during the Atlanta game Sunday. He felt more like Moe of the Three Stooges. And, as a result, this team must do some soul-searching in the coming days and weeks, particularly as it pertains to the offense.

On defense, the Dolphins handled potentially disastrous momentum with great equanimity and composure. Four times the Miami defense was forced to take the field in its own end and stop the Falcons from taking advantage of a turnover.

The Dolphins call that situation their "sudden change defense."

"I thought our sudden change defense was very good, which got tested pretty well during the course [of the game]," coach Tony Sparano said. "I think there was four times during the game that they had to go out there and a few times they had to work on a short field."

The Falcons got the ball on the Miami 37 yard line after a Chad Pennington fumble in the first quarter. Miami's sudden change defense forced a punt.

The Falcons got the ball at the Miami 31 yard line after an Anthony Fasano fumble in the second quarter, and the Dolphins held the Falcons to a field goal.

The Falcons got the ball at the Miami 20 yard line after a Pennington interception in the third quarter. The Miami defense apparently didn't have enough fingers to plug the dam's leaks this time as the Falcons cashed in a TD.

The Falcons got the ball back at the 38 yard line the same period after another Fasano fumble. This time the Miami defense held and the Falcons missed a field goal.

"You know, now sometimes the sudden change thing, you can look at those like they’re turnovers, you know, when you win on sudden change," Sparano said. "You stop ‘em after a turnover and they miss a field goal, you feel like that’s a win. But, the problem is you’re not gaining any yards doing it."

The victory feels particularly empty when the momentum the team gains from stopping the opponent on defense is, well, wasted by the offense.

The Dolphins offense has a ton of issues right now. And you can count how it handles momentum as one of them.

I'm not saying the offensive play-calling was bad here. But it was questionable and it did hurt Miami's momentum. Case in point:

Pennington was running for his life and rushed often. He didn't get much of a chance to find a rhythm. So what happens when Pennington throws his best pass of the game, a 16-yard rope to Ted Ginn Jr. in the second quarter, giving the Dolphins a first-and-10 at the Miami 34 yard line?

The Dolphins take the ball out of the suddenly lukewarm quarterback's hands.

Miami goes into its Wildcat package on first and second down. On first down, Ronnie Brown gains four yards. On second down, Pat White runs for zero yards.

And that leaves Pennington with a third-and-6 situation when the ball reverts to him. He does not convert.

On Miami's next possession, the offensive line is seemingly starting to create some creases in the Atlanta defense as Ricky Williams gains 7 yards on a first-down run. Well, the Dolphins follow that successful base offense play by heading back into the spread formation for White.

White fakes a handoff, and throws a pass deep downfield and harmlessly over the head of a WIDE OPEN Ginn. It was as if White just threw the ball as far as he could, hoping for something good to happen. The percentage of success on such faithful prayers is typically not good.

And now that the first-down run momentum is wasted, the Dolphins have to continue passing the ball even as the two-minute mark hits. They ultimately fail when Fasano fumbles. Momentum wasted.

The one that really bugged me, however, came in the third quarter. Down, 10-0, the Dolphins move from their own 20 with a nice mix of run and pass. Ronnie Brown gains 6 yards. Pennington passes to Davone Bess for 14. Ricky Williams gains 4 and then 8 yards rushing.

The Dolphins have the Falcons in retreat with a first down at the Atlanta 38 yard line. And then offensive coordinator Dan Henning gets cute, calling a pass-run option for Ginn. Yeah, the base offense is working, the starting quarterback just completed a 14-yard pass, so let's ask our best receiver to throw the next pass.

Sparano said the play was a nightmare. Well, he didn't say it was a nightmare, but did say no one was open and the offensive line "had leakage inside," meaning somebody wasn't blocking. So Ginn salvaged the broken play with a 1 yard run.

And that sound heard around the Georgia Dome? That was Miami's momentum balloon deflating.

The Dolphins suffered a penalty on the next play and Pennington's interception after that.

So what's the point?

Simply that while the Dolphins seem married to the spread with White and the Wildcat package, perhaps considering time away from the spouse now and then is a good thing.

When the spread asks your third-best QB to throw the football, that cannot be smart -- especially considering your starter completed 67 percent of his passes last year. When your gimmick calls for your deep threat receiver to throw the ball, that's not maximizing your chances to succeed, either.

And when the base running game is on a relative roll, why go away from it all of a sudden? Why not pound the opponent until he proves he can stop you?

All last year I heard grumblings from the offensive line how they like running out of the base offense and proving they can be good at doing that. I'm getting the feeling Pennington cannot be thrilled about having the ball taken out of his hands to let an unproven rookie take shots down the field.

"Wildcat is part of what we do," Pennington said after the game. "As a quarterback, you have to be able to adjust to that. And I don't really have an opinion one way or the other."

Right.

One more thing: I'd rather have a bigger, stronger, faster Ronnie Brown running the ball out of Wildcat than having Brown lead a sweep with White running the ball. Just saying.

I'm not saying the Dolphins should put Wildcat on the shelf. I'm not saying they shouldn't try to explore the possibility that White can indeed add a dimension to the offense. But the leash has to be short. If the kid isn't ready to make plays, that will become evident very quickly -- next game, even.

And if the wild and gimmicky side of the offensive play-calling is killing the momentum for the base set, that's not good either. That's just outsmarting yourself. 

Hey, thanks for all the kind comments and e-mails you have sent in recent days following my mom's passing. You have warmed my heart. All of you.

Finally, follow me on twitter dabgumit!  

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I was as disgusted as the next Miami fan watching the game. The offense was a disgrace. I couldn't beleive Long got flattened by Abraham the way he did. I was sick. With that being said they cheated safeties up to line all game because they don't respect Pennington. He was not his normal decisive self out there. I blame the horrible play calling. He looked like Henne at Michigan holding the ball too long but why were we passing that much that in the first place. Miami needs to take a page from Raiders last night and say we know who we are and that should be splitting carries between Ricky and Ronnie and in that order. Ricky runs with authority and knows what he is doing. Ronnie ran soft and danced too much. If they both ran hard and with the size of our O Line we could pound teams. We then can work to Pennington's strenght and go play action and when them safties are cheating up they can bite on the play action. Kudos to the D! Way to fight fellas!

bobby, who would you rather have Pennington or Sanchez?

the bills QB LOOKED great last night and should have won the game but we got lucky .it seems that all teams in the NFL starting the young qb's looking for the future not the past WHILT THE DOLPHINS playing the phony tricks .

lions .....new + young qb
jets.....same
bills.....same
saints...same

dolphins.....senior citizen qb

shawn.....WHAT A DUMB QUESTION TO ASK ?


The timing of the play with Pat White was quite a surprise and maybe that was the plan , it certainly surprised Atlanta . It was after all "wide open " It most certainly killed the momentum , not because of the call , but because of the execution. If it had worked , brilliant call , brilliant play , Go Fins!

I have seen the very best of quarterbacks overthrow their first pass of the game .And to think the coaching staff would put Pat White in that situation for his very FIRST NFL pass , tells me they have a lot of confidence in his ability. I can't even imagine the pressure he must have been in. A little less adrenaline , easy TD and big MO is on the Dolphins side!

Fins rule

what do you mean Aloco? Bobby says Sanchez sucks. he may be a Jet, but Sanchez does not suck. Pennington sucks! oooooohhhh you were being sarcastic...

word.

AGREE W/ YOU SHAWN. sanchez is way better than mr Pennington.in fact i am tired of hearing his name and long,ted ginn, ronnie, crowder ,nalbone and our new fumble boy FASANO.

Hey Mando - real sorry to hear about your mom -I lost my dad two years ago and I know its tough. hang in there!

Who are the best O-Lineman or WR in nexts years draft? Looking at the schedule - I'm hoping for 3-13 this year. They will take a step back this year - I've said it a million times - there is no sense in going 8-8 in this league - 13-3 or 3-13 is the way to get to and win the Super Bowl. One positive about this nightmare that awaits us this year is that maybe Henne will get in and we can see what he can do and try to determine if he is the real deal - although he won't have much help from the wideouts. Let's just get a top 5 pick and make them count and go from there with an easier schedule next year.

jimbo is a disgrace to the dolphin's honor . he should be banned from talking about our beloved fins .

Great Call, Mando!! That's exactly what I saw. We were actually running the ball pretty well and we killed all our momentum by getting cute. However, I'm sure Sparano is aware of this and they'll get back to the basics this Monday night.

Did you people see those games last nite????? Thats what real teams with REAL QBs ...hahahaha

hi, tool ,

i am happy i have a new tool friend

Stop with "Henne's time has come" talk after one game, these are the same Donkey's who thought John Beck was the savior. Wait until the bye week and if its this bad then make a change.

Team perfect QB looked a little rusty last nite, though only tom(The great) Brady could lead his team with a little over 2 minutes left and trailing by 11... iam sure you guys wish you could score twice..... in a game...hahahahahahahahahahah TEAM PERFECT 1 down, 17 more to go...

joeywatts you're right about one thing, no team looked as inept.

Buffaloes coach who, by the way, isn't supposed to be that good, had a excellent game plan last night and his team was ready to play.

Any way you cut it, Sparano ain't getting it done.

THAT'S TRUE,TOM BRADY MY HERO SCORED TWICE IN LAST 2 MINUTES IN HIS FIRST GAME IN 53 WEEKS,WHICH MORE THAN A YEAR FIN FANS .WHILLE YOU STILL TAKING HENNE OR PENNE , WHITE,TED GINN .

WES ELKER ANY ONE ?

BEN WATSON ANY ONE ?

WES WELKER

Dear Mr. Salguero

I went to the pawn shop this morning and purchased 5 more TV's just incase I have anymore accidental firearms discharges while watching my Dolphins.

I would also like to add since I live in Charlotte NC and follow the Panthers as well as my Dolphins. As a fan my Butt cheeks still hurt from pain brought by both Atlanta and the Eagles.

Soiled :)

Again, you want to crucify Pat White. Can a rookie be a rookie or is he supposed to come in his first game as an NFL player and make the Pro Bowl with his first throw of his NFL career. Give the guy a break! You have been criticizing Pat White since the day that he was drafted. A rookie should be allowed a longer leash than "the next game" as you have said. Thank God you are only a so-called columnist with usually little to write................ and not a NFL coach.

Maybe st. Louis was as bad as miami, if those two teams played they'd put all sleeping pill company's out of business.........hahaha, but seriously it be like a baseball score something like 2 to 3....

EVERY TIME THE DOLPHINS HAS A GAME ON , IT LOOKS LIKE MEAT BALL SUB .FAT, MESSY AND MAKE YOU SLEEP.

WHER ALL THE FIN FANS WHO WERE TALKING ABOUT THE DOLPHINS GOING THIS YEAR TO THE SUPER BOWL W/ PLAYERS LIKE FASANO AND TED GINN .

Let's see, a guy whose a proven leader, a guy who led my team to the AFC Championship last year, a guy who took our team from 1-15 to 11-5.....or a rookie who's played one stinking game against the Texans...It was a STUPID question...pennington hands down...and at the end of their careers, Chad Henne will have better numbers then BOTH Ryan and Sanchez...why?? Because he's being brought along the RIGHT way, not thrown into the fire...and if you don't believe me do a little research, the vast majority of the greatest NFL quarterbacks sat an AVERAGE of four years before getting the starting job...this "my team needs to win now" attitude makes me sick...if you want a one year wonder Shawn, that's on you...I want a team that is a powerhouse for years, just like Parcells built the Giants into...I've been a season ticket holder for 14 years and a football fan for 40...I trust the judgement of Bill Parcells WAY more then you people who think you know it all.

I agree with whoever said Bonamego has to go. This is the start of his second year and still no blocking on special teams. Also, the offensive line coach should be put on notice. Buffalo (with three players with no game experiance) blocked better than Miami's 150 million dollar line. Maybe we should try to use the no huddle as well.

Get Hank Baskett.... we need a Wide Receiver.... and he is much better than any dolphin WR on the field today...... watch the Patriots or Jets take him away, once again.!!! lol

And by the way SHAWN, your comments about the WTC on 9/11 are not only disgusting, bit an insult to 3000 AMERCANS who died, their families and federal law officers such as myself who pit our lives on the line...just like the black helicopter believers, the Obama birther nuts and every other conspiracy wacko, you have no credibility...I know two things for sure, your not in charge of building a pro football team and two, your no expert on how builings collapse when hit by passenger planes, in fact I'm pretty sure not many people are... Grow up

The menace is in full agreement with you Bobby12 on your last post..............

Pricemaster, Ross won't fire anybody unless He fires Parcells first.

Good call on the offensive rhythm. Said it all game...terrible timing on Henning.

Also, how about the defense taking the ball away.

This team needs to run the ball, take the ball away and play solid specials. It wins over time.

How about a trade with Crabtree for next years #1, and throw in Turner. Providing we have the cap to pay his salary.

Time for talk is over. O-line sucks and we all know it. Sparano is a former O-line coach. The new regime is into their second season and second O-line coach. Perhaps it's time for Sparano to take a deeper look at the O-line himself while looking for a new special teams coach. Buffalo had an o-line where a few had never played an N.F.L. game and did a better job. Oakland had a new starter at center last night and they were opening holes an elephant could run through. And we thought Wilford was a waste of money? Ha!!

how many TD this OL CAUGHT LAST YEAR AND THIS PRE SEASON ?

IT'S A SCANDAL .FIRE THE OL COACH AND LET HIM GO BACK MAKE MEAT BALL SUBS.

WHY the fins didn't get SEYMORE FROM the pats.he had 2 sacks last night w/ his new team OKLAND .

oh, i forgot we have FASANO THE FUMBLE BOY .

Does anyone know a good drycleaner???

I can't seem to get John Abrahams cleatprints off the front of Jake Longs jersey!

Signed: Miami Dolphins Equipment Manager

Jake long should retire and go to the hall of WHAT ?

wait a second , SANCHEZ not only won but he won on the road

This is what I mean about dumb comments..."why didn't we get Seymour from the Pats??" well one, the Pats are not gonna trade in their division, no good team ever does, and two, why would the fins give up a future first round pick for a DEFENSIVE player when their defense is not the problem on a guy who MAY have four years left??? Jesus

sanchez beat the texans. big whoop. a team whose defense has kept them out of the playoffs for years. buffalo nearly upsets the pats and you want to brag? really? about buffalo? a team miami swept last year and the pats had to rely on a stupid decision by a kick returner. hold your horses fellas the year ain't over yet. wait till sanchez faces a team that has a secondary and brady faces a team with any semblance of a pass rush before you soak your jockstraps.

Armando,

Your basically writing what I whent over, albeit, with greater detail from my post yesterday. Also with out the typos lol, I didnt have time to spell check-yesterday
Check it. Posted by: Dolphins4life | September 14, 2009 at 08:33 PM

Momentum, rhythm, wildpat, everything I just mentioned well I mentioned them yesterday about not sticking to the run and moving the line. What ever Mo' we had was quickly killed running the wildpat etc. Your funny Armando.

Armando you say that Dolphins offense has a ton of problems, they don't they have a few but important few. Mainly the Offensive line!

We need to play like the $146 million price tag the O-line has on its head or what ever the amount is. Long, Smiley, Carey, Grove and Thomas can do better than that, much better so when that happens (next week) then we will score points on offense and be a consistent threat and carry Mo' through out the season.

Another problem was the turnovers. Four tournovers is not gonna win any games. So that combined with sloppy play from the )-line is what needs to be corrected.

Oh and the soul searching Armando is pointing out that the Dolphins need to do is so dramatized but thats what reporters like Armando do, I call it "what it do" lol, no but really Armando soul searching? LMAO

We will come out better next time out and we will kick some tail off. Historically we do well against Manning and company after all we had them in our division before and know what they like to run. Look for a rebound from the poor performance the Dolphins offense showed and more good play from the D and a Dolphins victory! We will not start 0-2 again!

sammo,

i thought you are a fair guy...you still talking about the past like you won a ring. my friend you have the worst OL and the most over paid player in the NFL.

let's talk GINN, LONG,BROWN,WHITE,HENNE,FASANO THE FUMBLE BOY AND THE OL COACH AND THE QB COACH AND MEAT BALL SUBS .

PS, you remember NJ PHIN SCREAMING ' " OH BABY FASANO "

AND " OH BABY MOSS"LOL LOL LOL

ALoco i am a fair guy but come on you guys are going off on a dolphins blog. when miami shocked the pats i didn't go to a pats blog and rip the fans, Nor did i go to a jets blog when miami stormed into new york and took the East title. sounds pretty fair to me. fasano had a bad game. as did our o-line. was i upset? yes but it's only one game.

Now if you want to talk subs i'll take a foldover steak sub smothered in A1sauce any day of the week.

bbbyd12

I have to agree with you last few posts and some of these so called Dol-fans have tunnel vision and we are building for the duration meaning for long term success. Some of these guys think thet know more than Parcells and company including my freind Armando. Claiming that Tuna hasnt won anything since what did Armando say the 90's or something to that effect.

Tuna has been shopping for his ingridents but needs more time and groceries meaning he's onlyu had two drafts and inherited a bad 1-15 team. Succession that was turned into a 11-5 season the next and its success spoiled Dolphin nation into thinking that we can and need to win now. Well we aint gonna win all the games and there are 15 more to go so be patient Dolphin nation be patient.

The problem is we have a hand full of knowledgeable fans on this blog and not enough of them and too much I hate to call them idiots but maybe...miss aligned or something.

Anyway dont get discouraged from most of these narrow minded fans on this blog half of them have multiple names for what ever reason. You can tell which ones know what they are talking about and which ones are just blowing steam. case in point the blogger who posted that we sghould have gotten Richard Seymore was a typical example.

GoDolphins!

sammo,

you know i am a jerk .AGREE W/YOU.IT'S ONLY A GAME but if they lose next game i will be back having fun.


mean while , who's the elegent coach today in the nfl sammo ?

and who's the worst looking coach on side line ?

Sorry typos

Good nite Dolphin Nation

i'd say the worst is jauron. or wade philips when it's crunch time, most elegant? if he didn t just retire i would say dungy. class act all the way. tomlin is pretty good too. but tomlin walked into an organization that was already good up and down the roster. sparano needs a year or two with another draft and free agency.

Armando This is good stuff...welcome back. If the offense is flowing, let it flow. Do not get cute with the wildcat stuff. I think the oc is getting a little carried away with the wildcat. The wildcat should be an innovative way to create offense. If the offense is already flowing then leave it alone. I think the Dolphins are wasting too much time on the wildcat, keep it simple and efficient. Isn't that the two word that describe Chad Pennington. I say sit Fasano for 1 game to access himself, a TE cannot fumble period. I say definitely involve Ronnie Brown in the offense more often and mix in Ricky.We need a number 1 receiver in the worst way. I think Ginn practices the fire drill on the field. Catch , Drop, and roll. Hey Ginn it won't hurt to run a little after the catch. Special teams could only be described by one word.....pathetic. Jake Long watching you play made me realize the "trifecta" really screwed up by passing up Matt Ryan.Sorry!!! I thought the whole point of the off season was to become a better team, letting go of Andre Goodman was a huge mistake, and not bringing in Anquan Boldin was an even bigger mistake. We need "PLAY MAKERS" that is the only way we will be close to making the playoffs in this division.

Slip slidin' away, slip slidin' away, the fins '09 season's slip slidin' away.

If you look at the falcon game as anything then a build block you're way off.

Did you forget we're in the 2nd year of rebuilding. Look for the positives,they will fix the minor stuff.

SPECIAL teams has been a big problem and they did OK.

TED GINN ran right pass everybody and pat white over threw him by 10 yards. When pat gets control that will be dangerous.Plus it's great to be able to utilize his speed.

RONNIE BROWN ran hard and that block he did for RICKY was nasty. Both of them in the back field together will be nice to see.Both run hard, both block good and both can catch.

I didn't see any drop passes.However I went outside for a few smoke breaks.

LONG wasn't as bad as some of you think. He wentup with a PRO BOWLER and gave up a sack and a QB hurry. Forget the fact this is his 2nd year. SORRY I don't think that's so bad.

YEAH there were bumps in the road but as a whole things weren't that bad.

FASANO doesn't fumble we get at least 3 and the score would be 3 to 3 or 7 to 3. Not 10 to 0. pat white hits TED GINN and it's 10 to 7. And if a spliff was an if we would be all Fu++ED UP.

POINT is things are not that bad and some of the FAKE FANS already showed their true colors.

The worst thing was that CUBAN,NJ FIN FAN,or UNCLE SAM didn't come out to show me and the FINS some LOVE. Any way much respect to them and the rest of the FIN FANS.

BE STRONG WE're ON OUR WAY TO BE AMONG THE LEAGUE's ELITE.

Justin, nj and uncle sam will pound some love into you. With their fists

SAMMO,

Why you messing with Aloco? You know Aloco is alos that wuss we know as cuban menace. Wake up!

SAMMO

Why you messing with Aloco? He is that idiot cuban menace. Wake up!!

We need to put players in positions to win and we are not doing that. We should use Ronnie and POlite like Jacobs and Bradshaw. Rotate em fresh and pound it off guard or off tackle. Throw to Ricky and Cobbs on screens and rotate them fresh. Finally we need make Ginn a slot receiver to split the safeties and stretch the field for runnung game and short passing, and we need to throw the ball down there at least 4 times a game.

2c

You guys cannot be serious .

I will say it again for you. Pat White was on the field for 3 plays and two of them were consecutive plays and that was the sole cause of the lack of momentum?? really?? Either you all are blind, stupid or you have deep seated hatred for Pat White.

Pennington throw the interception, Pennington held the ball to long and gave up the fumble, Fasano caught the ball in open space, both times before he lost the ball because he could not handle the hit, and somehow all of this can be blamed on the Wildcat???
Morons.

Some idiot says that the pass and run of White were the plays that stuck out to him, not the play wer Long was absolutley embarassed by Abraham, not the fumble or interception of Pennington, not the one of either of the two fumbles by Fasano, it was a overthrown pass and a run for zero yards. If you can honestly look at that and say there is no bias, then you are a liar and a fraud just like the person who made that statement.

exactly the way I saw it too - excellent observations

Mando, you are right on the money, I think Jake Long, Anthony Fasano, and Dan Henning were the major culprits in that game. Good part is all of them can correct those mistakes. Hopefully Henning will call a real football game and not reenact dreams he had the night before a game.

Hey, welcome back "Mando! I'm very sorry to hear about your mom... my prayers to you and your family brother.

If White overthrows a "WIDE OPEN" Ted Ginn then its bad execution, not a bad play call. What a silly thing to say. Pennington cant/wont throw the ball downfield, Pat White is being used as a potential big threat guy b/c unlike Pennington, he can throw the ball more than 40 yards. I mean, have ever seen CP overthrow Ginn on a deep ball? Didnt think so.

The poor play calling that occurred had nothing to do with the Wildcat/Spread, it had to do with not using a back or TE to chip John Abraham, who was recking our pass game.

Sometimes I wonder why they let you post at all...

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