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Dolphins coaching was a problem versus Bill

There are complaints aplenty about the Miami Dolphins today.

Some of them come from fans, as blogs, message boards and radio call-in shows will be loaded today with complaints about play-calling and coaching.

Some of the complaints come from Miami's locker room and coaching staff. That's the one I decided to focus on for my column in the Miami Herald Monday. Players and coaches alike looked at their fourth-quarter collapse against the Bills, a collapse which turned a 14-7 lead into a 31-14 loss, and everyone agreed the Dolphins have a problem finishing.

The Dolphins are perhaps the NFL's worst team at finishing games. They've blown games against Indianapolis, New Orleans, and the Bills in the final stanza this year. They also got outplayed by San Diego in the fourth quarter of that game.

Read the column and answer the following question: How does a team that cannot finish games, expect to successfully finish the season?

As to matters not in the column:

The coaching by the Dolphins staff was horrible on Sunday. I have great respect for the Miami coaching staff because I believe they often get the most production out of some limited talent. But this blowout upset loss was different.

This was embarrassing.

The facts are the Dolphins were facing an inferior team on Sunday. The Buffalo starting cornerbacks of Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee did not play on Sunday. The Buffalo offensive line was missing two starters and had another dude playing out of position. The Buffalo head coach is a rookie. And Ryan Fitzpatrick from Harvard? Really?

The Bills had nothing to play for but pride while the Dolphins' season was on the line.

Then one has to understand the Dolphins had 10 days to prepare for this game.

And the Bills still won?

"We've got 10 days to prepare and I didn't do a good enough job obviously preparing them," coach Tony Sparano said. "I've got to do a better job."

Sparano, the former play-caller for Bill Parcells in Dallas, has to do a better job of riding herd over offensive coordinator Dan Henning. Henning, who has forgotten more football than most people will ever know, is normally a fine offensive coordinator.

Sunday was not one of those occassions.

Consider that on Miami's first possession the Dolphins moved from their own 45 yard line to the Buffalo 3. Chad Henne completed a 15-yard pass. Ricky Williams ran for 11, then 7, then six, then 5 yards. The Bills were on their heels.

And then on first-and-goal, Henning got cute by calling a halfback pass for a player that hasn't thrown a pass since 2000.


Momentum lost.

"Yeah, you know, I got the ball and Joey Haynos was supposed to block the outside linebacker and then go, and I saw him, and I just didn't put enough arch on the ball and it was picked off by the backside linebacker," Williams said.

But why call the play at that point? I can understand if the Dolphins weren't running well? But they were rolling. Not smart. They used their best runner to throw, thereby not using their best runner's or best passer's greatest assets. Not smart. 

Sparano relegated the criticism of the play-call to "Monday Morning quarterbacking" and said the problem with the play was in its execution. It sounded like a coach who would prefer to blame a player than another coach for a play's failure.

There were other head-scratching offensive calls also.

In the second quarter the Dolphins took a 7-0 lead and then stopped the Bills on a three-and-out. Then the Dolphins complete a pass for 11 yards, Williams runs for 6 yards, Williams runs for 5 yards. And then Henning gets cute again.

He calls an end-around to Ginn on first down. It loses 4 yards. And you know what? The Dolphins make 11 yards on the next two plays but have to punt because they needed 14 yards for a first thanks to that reverse, So that reverse to Ginn costs the Dolphins a chance to keep driving.

The Bills then get the ball and tie the game at 7-7 on their next possession.

Finally, can I ask about continuing to force the issue with Pat White? He is neither one of the team's better runners nor it's best passer. And yet he continues to get plays at strange moments when Miami runs its spread option.

White ran once for 2 yards on Sunday. When did that first taste of action come?

In the fourth quarter. Right after Buffalo took a 17-14 lead. What changed at that point that didn't happen in the three previous quarters when Miami was winning? What was the freakin' point?

The defensive coaching staff doesn't get a pass here, either.

We all recognize the Dolphins are starting two rookie cornerbacks. We recognize they are talented. And we recognize they are capable. But why put them in one-on-one coverage a large majority of the game, every game?

Hello? Other teams watch tape, also ...

It is begging for a game-changing TD. And the Dolphins got exactly what they were begging for when Terrell Owens caught a 51-yard TD pass over Vontae Davis in the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick said he recognized the coverage pre-snap and called an audible.

Dagger to the heart.

One more thing: We keep hearing how Cameron Wake cannot get into games more because he is a work-in-progress as a run-defender.

Well, how long does it take to coach up a player to defend the edge of the defense? We're 11 games into the season and Wake's still not ready to tackle somebody running wide?

And if Wake isn't, what makes coaches think Joey Porter is ready? Porter blew edge run assignments time after time on Sunday. Yes, he had a couple of sacks against reserve tackles. But that was Porter blowing the run defense against Fitzpatrick as the Ivy League QB set off on a 31-yard TD run.

So the young player can't be taught to defend the run 11 games into a season and the veteran can't be reminded to keep his assignment discipline? Yes, the players have a responsibility to get this done. But the coaches have an equal responsibility to make sure those players do their job or take a seat on the bench.

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When does Paul Pasqualoni get fired ?

How serious are we about Terrence Cody ?

Are there any differences between Dave Wannestedt and Tony Sparano ?

These are not the type of questions I was hoping to be asking at this point of the season.

We're lucky if we end 8-8.

what bothers me is this freaky momentum-blowing play-calling has been going on all season. it's not like the first drive was an anomaly...therefore, if the fricken planet can see it, why can't the dolphins coacing staff?

what the heck is goin on the coach's meetings?!


Well said 'Mando. This coaching staff makes horrible decisions. Yes, rookie corners, yes, patchwork offensive line, yes, defense older than Deacon Jones, yes, first year starter at QB and no talent at WR/TE, still, they manage to throw away plays with this trickery. Look, the WC at times is nice. The direct snap to the RB in the Red Zone,fine. Whatever. But put Pat White aside and how bad is Pat Turner that he can't beat out these ragamuffins? I don't get it and Super Mario with the sunglasses needs to start holding Henning accountable. Dont blame Ricky for the execution on the interception, blame Henning for putting him in that position. And poor Henne. Everyone on the field knew we had to throw at the end. Duh. And with no breakaway WR's, what do you expect. Maddening.


Sparano admitted in his post-game that he didn't prepare the team well enough. Instead of taking a vacation last week to see his sons play football, maybe he should have been watching old film on Fitzpatrick play for the Crimson. Of course, they don't actually film Harvard games, so that would have been difficult.

we should blow the season and try to get dez bryant

i like what you said mando about

"Sparano, the former play-caller for Bill Parcells in Dallas, has to do a better job of riding herd over offensive coordinator Dan Henning. Henning, who has forgotten more football than most people will ever know, is normally a fine offensive coordinator"

i say fire pasqualoni because our defense has sucked s**t all year, henning needs to stop with the BS or he gets fired too...I guarantee that parcells is going to have a talk with sparano about these guys

I agree with the criticism of Henning for calling a half-back pass from the 2 yard line. You know the absolute worst part of that call? It was first down, which means the Dolphins had 3 downs to get about 2 yards. And you call a half-back pass? You have to know that is a high risk/high reward play, but there was no need to take a risk there. The Dolphins' offensive line was destroying the Bills' front 7 on every play. A horrific, mindless call.

One more thing I was furiuose about: On Chad Henne's first interception, he was hit as he threw. The play was a 2nd and long with 3 minutes to play and thus an obvious passing down. BUT THE DOLPHINS CALLED A PLAY ACTION. Why would you call a play-action on an obvious passing down? The Bills were not fooled, and that extra second allowed them to hit Henne. The play action on obvious passing downs has gone on all year, and i really dot get it.

here is a question for you all. If Sparano ahs another losing season after this one, does he get the chop ? I think he may, or at least Henning and Pasquoloni are out. Pathetic today. ricky is still the hero and to ask him to throw in that situation is suicide.

Ok mando I respect this column u wrote but i want to see some emotion from Sparano instead of his self effacing crap he uses to defuse you guys. Don't fall for it and get into his face!!!!!!!!!

Whateva happened to Feed The Stud???? Why be cute when all we need is ricky to get a few yards running and three downs to do it. The coaches need to be publicly flogged for this fiasco.


We were definetly watching the same game today, all good points.

10 days of rest and this?

Something is wrong with this team and has been for way too long.

Do your sources or hunch see Parcells leaving?

Go Phins

Im pretty sure porter didnt blow his assignemnet on the qb td run. He was other side of the pitch.

F-I-N-(i)S(hed)! finsfinsfins Choked!

What else do you expect from a team when its owner is more concerned with a over-the-hill singer and husband, another one who falls on her ample butt and a has-been husband, a hokey song and stupid stadium name!!!!!


I hope the keep the tape of this game and play it again and again and again. All coaches have to take the blame, but Sparano used to be a play caller, so why not over ride that bs call at the goal line?

Get ready for the draft boys.


Mando please ask why Hilliard barely gets a sniff when he clearly has EARNED more carries. The guy is carrying tacklers on his back (like a younger ricky) the few plays he gets but hes mostly languishing on the bench. What am I missing here?????

hi armando;this coaching staff stinks'why go for a playaction' when you have to throw the ball?where's the shotgun?they seem like they want to lose!passgaboney does not teach the lber's to jam the te's.channing crowder is the worst and slowest lb'er i've seen ]god i hate him 'he looks like a tall dwarf...why did t.sporano say 'tht he can make the probowl?was he drunk 'this guy should be a special teamer at best.joey porter is lazy'jason taylor is washed up'he lost his power 'he cn;t bullrush no more.chad henne is great no complaints there.sean smith can't tackle that's why g.wilson has been exposed so much.antonio cromartie was benched last year in san diego'cause he could't tackle'because he's too tall 'and can't squat../dan henning needs to be in a nurseyhome.ted ginn has gotten clumsy'one mistake after a good play...akin stinks too. he is a stiff linebacker..and billparcells is the one who'wants pat white too get in the game cause he knows he blew that pick..

Coaching and play calling is the prob. The truth is that
10 days of so called rest included practicing (hitting) every day in full pads and heavy lifting except for the week end days.Why is the O line decimated with injuries? Why are injuries nothealing up? What rest? Perhaps we should examine the coaches tactics at practice.

I have not like the play calling since game one. When they finally decided to run the ball Miami was already three games down. All I can say is that I can not see Parcells keeping this coaching staff as it is at the end of the season. If he dose than I would thing that confirms he is heading to another team.

the fins work hard' on there conditioning in the offseason .but they are huffing and puffing in the second half of games.the bills players looked in better shape!!buill parcells looks like he's in to baseball more than football.when is this guy gonna speak?

No one has mentioned how bad Ginn sucks. Ginn sucks. Cut him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No one has mentioned how bad Ginn sucks. Ginn sucks. Cut him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No one has mentioned how bad Ginn sucks. Ginn sucks. Cut him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God bless him, but he still SUCKS!

I always said Suprano was no great sensation. They finished 11-5 last year because they beat up "has been" teams like the rams, seahawks, raiders all year, etc. The coaching staff truely sucks.

Maybe we should bring in one of the premier coaches like Cowher for next season, who like Parcels, knows how to buld a wining team. ie. Stealers are the most successful team of the decade!!!


Couldn't agree with you more on that terrible call to have Ricky throw on 1st and goal from the 2 after we had run all over them. The Cameron Wake comment is right on as well....don't understand it and yet after seeing all the coaching gaffs made on this game, and other this season, it just points to Sparano and the staff being completely out of touch.

Bad calls,I'm just embarresd...

YA,We suck

Yes you are right we last the game because of Ginn.

WRONG Coaches blew this game.

STFU for those are calling for the Sparano's firing. He is the best HC we have had since Shula. Where you calling for Shula's head every time he lost. This is the 2nd year of a complete rebuilding. Those that thought that Miami was going to the Superbowl this year your idiots. Let him finish building this team before you head hunters turn the Phins into a 1-15 team again. But that what some of you like losing. You are probably closet Jets fans.

I'm really peeved today, how can you lose a game we should have never lost. The play calling was atrocious, Sparano better make his Phins play 100% all the way otherwise we are going to have a losing season. However, a positive is we should get better and i think we still need some impact players on this team.
Well i don't know about the play-offs now as we had a great chance until yesterday. Now it only makes things tough as we have to win out to have any chance.

An upset Dolphin fan from England, UK

There are Many to Blame:
Coaches who do not teach techniques like tackling;
Ginn who cannot catch a ball without velcro;
Clamming Chowder more bark than bite - can't tackle either.

We're in bad shape, Team / Fans!

Was on the verge of getting season tix again, but NO...Three hour drive after an embarresing game like that? Momma always told me not to drive angry!

I am also not a fan of this Pat White joke. We could have used that pick on Hakeem Nicks. This team needs a WR more than another QB. I say convert White to a wr or trade him. He is too small and not accurate enough to be a NFL QB.

By far your beat Blog ...ever...
Thanks for telling it like we saw it...
Way to nuch talk of a easy win and NOT getting them to focus on 1 game at a time...

I agree with everything Mando.

My only thing is the rookie CB's are going to be on an island more because they need to stop the run in numbers without a quality NT.

Pick your poison. However, I get what you are saying and you are right on.

Here are some thoughts from Spain...

As the anchor said, miami is always on the line, if they dont make the couple of first drives for TD they are done for the day.

I understand sean smith is a rookie but he is killing me, he leaves to much of a coushing, he plays to not get burned and he often does, I expect him to be an elite CB but hes rookie season is being hard.

Fitzpatrick today looked like a manning/vick player, obviously we made him look like that all day...

As stated before we cant let our rookie CB´s all alone in one-on-one situations all day, they´re good but give them a break they are ROOKIES!

Here a thought, i know its hard i know we all want to make the playoff every day and at every moment but, this team need better quality player at some critical spots and draft helps there, i wouldn´t regret a losing record this year because WE NEED better player and that will happen with a good draft place.(beeing this draft year one of the best since years)

3rd round p.turner is killing me everyday, what could have we done with that pick?maybe TE?who knows... at the moment its a wasted pick.

henning seriously goes nuts sometimes, its like he always wants new wrinkles on every play, lets not forget the fundamentals here, and even more having a champion at RB as ricky is...

As everybody mentioned this loss was hard very hard(i´m a soccer fan and real madrid lost today to barcelona and it did not hurt so much) since we where 14-7 i was thinking, "we have to break it fast because this people are starting to get some kind of rythm", i dunno i had a hunch... and what a hunch...

Our remainder of the season is still tought, patriots,steelers and titans these last i fear the most...

How can anyone call for sporano to get fired? Everyone knew this season was going to be a better team but a step back. We blew games but depth plays a big role. Late in the game a big threat reciever keeps us in it. Instead the defense can man up easier and put alot more pressure on the QB. If we had a boat load of talent I get where fire sporano is coming from over the entire season with this record but 8-8 was something expected. It is disappointing but were still rebuilding. No excuses for next year the regime will have had plenty of time to get it together.

I agree Mando, the coaches were terrible yesterday, and I like Tony but now he is starting to piss me off with his comments, he says he wants his best players on the field at the right time, well let your best player do what they do best, Ricky runs not throws and then Tony blames the player, it makes me sick. Besides that comment, Go Dolphins, I will never stop being a Dolphins Fan, buy please Tony do a better job or get someone who will

The Henning call of the William's pass was the most puzzling call by any Dolphins coordinator since Mike Mularky called a double-reverse against the Chiefs when Saban was in town. It was the same puzzling situation. There was less than 10 minutes left in the game and the Dolphins were up by 2 scores. The crazy part is that the Dolphins defense had shut down the Chiefs all day. Mularky calls a double-reverse, the Dolphins fumble and the Chiefs take over with great field position. Why? Why would you do that? It's a high risk, low reward play; just like the Ricky pass on Sunday......a high risk, low reward play against a team that can't stop your running game, or anyone else's for that matter. The Bills were giving up 170 rushing yards per game.

1st down....that's the other extrememly annoying part of that call. It was first f(**&Ding down. On 3rd down, if you've gotten stuffed on two running plays, perhaps that's a good call. 1st down....ridiculous.

I am not saying fire Tony, but he is the headcoach and needs to start acting like one, if his coaches screw up he is the last line and he has the final answer and he is not doing good with that

WOW armando really tells it like it is!!! i believe my eyes and armando not the coaches jibberish telling us it wasn't what we just saw. i was at the game and the buffalo fans were suprised they were still in the game in the 2nd half. its on the coaches; they released mat roth who had 7 tackles and a sack for the browns! he was the guy they said production was a problem but only gave him one or two series. COACHES ARE THE PROBLEM!!!!!!

I will tell you why we suck on D, it is the lack of pressure. Sure we got a few sacks but those were straight up 4 man rush sacks against a team witha banged up o-line. Why don't we ever put 7 or 8 men on the line and really try and rattle a qb? Another question-Why is Cameron Wake on the bench?

Here's what these coaches don't seem to get: the wildcat is dead w/out Ronnie Brown and without Ricky coming in motion. Pat White is a mistake. If you cannot make him into a receiver, then he has to go.

Why they are still going to stuff that hasn't worked for the last three or four games shows a lack of an ability to look at the facts. Stop the cuteness. The Wildcat did work because of Ronnie. It's never worked with anyone else.

greg z, We will have no good players in our locker room. if we should get a good one we will release um or cut um or my favorite trade um to the Pats. If henne gets much better look for us to release him too. (a little monday morning sarcasm) How many more yrs do we have to wait!!! we are cursed. I see a quick exit by Parcells posibly before the season ends. 6-10 and thats only (if) we can beat the Titans.

I have been trying to tell you guys for a while now. Do you get it now?

News flash: This didn't start yesterday, it's been going on for a while.

I think parcells should do a Pat Reily and take over the coaching duties for this year and next year, lol


Pretty harsh criticism, but I'm as frustrated and upset by this loss as you are.

Season over.



Am I missing something here? Al these calls for the coaching staff to be fired...Are you kidding me? It was an embarassing loss, there were bad play calls to be sure but come on guys...Fire Pasquoloni? We only allowed 7 points into the forth quarter! We need to be a little more patient and remember that the team is beat up and remember that we need better talent on both sides of the ball. Talent like maybe Matt Roth? 7 tackles and a sack for KC by the way....Oh yeah, we need to cut Ted Ginn and his family too...Did you see the plays that Hartline was making? I don't think Ginn has made plays like that kid and Bess has made since he was drafted in the first freaking round...

another thing, don't tell me that players can't be converted into something they aren't as we speak..i say try pat white at WR...up here in NE it makes me sick to see the Pats take a college QB, WHO'D NEVER PLAYED WR, in Julian Edelman, and convert him to a WR and he catches a TD his first game EVER at WR...honestly? how can the Pats do this, but we can't? our the players we draft just that stupid or is our coaching staff that dumb or unimaginative? maybe a little bit of both? i'm perplexed every time i see a team do this, but the fish seem to be blind to the fact or fat head suckrano drops some BS jibberish about it won't work...i haven't hated coaches like this since wandstache...grrrrrrrrr

Where is Hilliard in this new backfield of Ricky Williams and nobody ? He carries people on his back everytime he is put in the game, and going against the worst run defense in the league....C'mon, hand him the rock after Ricky is tired !!!!!

Guys, I was at the game yesterday and I had a bad feeling about the game all day. We started strongly, moving the ball inside the 5, before the Williams INT and the defence looked good in the beginning. But the Bills are playing loosey-goosey right now. They have nothing at stake and are playing well for a rookie coach and for jobs next year. I can tell you the fans were surprised by the victory.

A few plays changed the game yesterday. The 31 yard run by Fitzpatrick, where the defence fell asleep, was inexcusable. But I thought the game-changing play was the Bills decision to kick a 56 yard field goal with the game tied. I thought it was a bad decision on their part and could have resulted in the 'Phins getting the ball back in great position. I also think the Dolphins would have been able to chew up most of the 5 plus minutes left in the game. I think if Jauron had still been coaching and the Bills season wasn't lost, the Bills would have punted and it would have been a different finish. The kick gave them a lot of life. And then the Dolphins tried forcing a whole bunch of things and the game got away from them.

So criticize the play-calling all you want but the Bills played hard and quite honestly, if not for the last 5 minutes, the game could have gone either way. My girlfriend kept asking me why they ran Williams so much but it was a smart game plan. No offence to Henne, because I think he is going to be really good, but he's just not ready to carry the team in a hostile environment like Buffalo yesterday. I think the team played hard and under different circumstances could have won the game yesterday.

Craig, Thats why they must play ALL 60 minutes of the game, not just 55 minutes, like mando said this team finds ways to loose in the final minutes of games,I'll blame coaching on that...oh yeah i'll also blame ted(Sideline)ginn too.....

Definite failing grade to the coaching staff. Sparano is making pathetic excuses to protect his coaching staff by claiming the Ricky Williams play was a failed execution. That play should never have been called to begin with. Also, that stupid run around play with Ginn, which cost us 4 yards was another mark of monumental coaching stupidity. How long is Sparano going to keep blaming players for bad coaching decisions. This has been a chronic problem all season long.

Great questions Mando!! The coaching has been weird in a couple of spot this season. Henning is infected with "Pat White fever" he needs an inoculation. Any "fan" calling for Sparano to be fired is either crazy or has a low football IQ. Yes he has made mistakes but what coach doesn't? He took a terrible team (1-15) and made them competitive.


Fans love instability in S. Fla. that plays a part in why this team has been held back. The "fans" wanted Shula out too early, The "fans" wanted Saban, hell the fans wanted Brady "Myoplex" Quinn for goodness sake!!! Thank goodness we have Bill Parcells because the fans have no say in his operations.

That said, please trifecta, please draft a quality DAMN RECIEVER this April.

Mando, any chance that you can get us the number of snaps that Garner, Smiley, and Thomas got at each guard position?

It was clear to me that Garner is a much better overall lineman than Thomas. However, it's also clear that Smiley cannot play a whole game at LG either.

Dan Henning may know a huge amount of football, but as a game day coordinator, calling plays, well let's just say I know several Pop Warner coaches that can run rings around his play calling. It's way past time to bury the Cat.

It's also way past time playing "cute" football, we fans are SICK and TIRED of cute Mr. Henning. You have a monster running back in Ricky Williams, you have a monster run blocking OL, until the other team stops you, you run it down their throats. Here's a clue, monster running games are what win championships, NOT CUTE!

Why doesn't Parcells step in here and do something besides play golf?


took my kids to the game, their first, and this is what i get, what an embarrassment, they dont even look like a pro team! wide recievers who cant catch, defenders who cant tackle, offensive linemen who cant pass block! come on this was the buffalo bills. they suck and we sucked worse!

you fans are pathetic, as are you mando.go fish.

It's the coaches fault to an extent but the blame has to go this young team. Executing at the right time will always eliminate the talk that surrounds this team. To go along with that we arent very talented when u really think about it. I said it b 4 11-5 long shots 10-6 possibily 9-7 realisticly 8-8 the flat out truth. We aren't there yet we are missing to many pieces and it seems that the last three seasons we have gotten younger and while we do that we loose experience and it showed. Tank the season let's get better in the draft and in free agency. Henne will be fine so will our young DB's and in the fourth maybe fifth year of this regime the Parcells project will lift off.


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