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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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Guys watch "House wifes of New Jeresy" tonite, I hear the plumber will be making a house call to one of the houses, $5.00 says he's there to break pipe....

To me the problem is Porter and Taylor. They just look very indifferent out there and that type of attitude trickles down to the younger teammates. To win in the 4th quarter you have to want it more than the other team. They just don't seem to want it all that badly.

enough already of nj phin talk already .let's be civil cuban.

ill say it again we need a new defensive coordinator we obviously have the talent there they just need a little better direction

and unless dez bryant falls to us we shouldnt draft a wideout

we have to freak carlos dunlap or terrance cody to replace ferguson

and look into a running back & center later in the draft

i know its early to be talking draft but regardles if we make the wild card its what were looking at

ps jake grove has not had a full season since when????? never???

I am Gopats, I offered a olive branch to the guy, he not only rebuffed but then slandered my good name... By the way what are your thoughts on tonites pats saints game,will your Tommy boy be on target tonite and will the "d" for the pats show up???

Armando, thank you for covering all the points that have bugged me since yesterday after the game. This really sucks, same old friggin story! Oh, by the way, what you forgo9t Armando... Bill Parcells retires and quits on us this year! Promise that one. Then what? Sporano showed us what a TERRIBLE coach is yesterday, and that sucks cause he is not like that every game, but we can not have that type of Coaching ANY game if we want to turn this team around. I am at a loss... and quite depressed about all of this. when do things change in Phins nation?

Right on the money again Armandito! Eres una bestia..

The only thing worse than the play calling is Gus Johnson doing the game. This guy is a complete clown. He should only be allowed to announce Kimbo Slice fights.

To Parcells, PLEASE trade Ginn to the PATS. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!


we got a big problem with the coaching. coach sparano knows nothing about the offense and coach P seems lost on defense. matt roth was let go because "lack of production" on limited # of snaps yet gets 7 tackles and a sack against the bengals!


Yes...bad play call on the 1st and goal to have ricky throw it...but what's more troubling than calling that play is to hear sparano say, "it's monday morning qb, and it wasn't the play call as much as the execution."


this has been going on all year.. it just got worst today.. why is anyone surprised.. the dumb momentum blowing play calls.. the dumb ass play action calls.. and how they abandon the run in the 4th quarter.. Henne is going to be good.. but we cant expect him to carry the team with the non-weapons we have.. they had 4 minutes left in the 4th with 3 timeouts and they decided to abandon the run again.. Dan Henning is very innovative.. and the dolphins get away with their tricks more often than they should.. but its time to play football.. no more throwing out the wildcat..PLEASEEEEEEEEE

No way to defend the pass by Ricky. NO way. That was a bad call. I'm sure BP will let both sparano and henning hear about it. I really think henning will be gone next year. This is the second game he's cost us this year. He needs to go. And sparano needs to be put on Notice. You don't go to buffalo with playoffs on the line and lay an egg and be that un prepared.

Has Henning ever heard of a shot gun formation? The firs Henne interception he was hit in the arm and if he was in shot gun he probably would have gotten the pass out. Henning is the problem here. Charlie Weis anyone?

Major changes to the fins locker room are imminent.. Bye bye Joey Peezy

I have to agree with boulderfinfan, our group watching the game was wondering why Henne was not in the shotgun. I am going to assume he is not comfortable passing out of the shotgun - what other explanation can thier be.

I agree with most here on the STUPIDITY of Henning calling a halfback pass play with Ricky on that 1st Qtr. drive.

The Phins are a totally different team offensively WITHOUT the 'Wildcat' - period. And without Ronnie Brown there is NO 'Wildcat'!

WHY isn't anyone here speaking out about Henne??? As far as I'm concerned he is NOT the FUTURE at QB for the Phins! I realize he's stepped in this season with no real experience, but I just don't see the 'diamond in the rough' ANYWHERE here! Poor accuracy and judgement time and time again. Say what you want, but Henne CAN'T begin to compare to two other rookie QB's, Sanchez or Freeman, this season. Just another journeyman QB!

Pat White has no utility on this offense. Wasted pick!

Ginn has got to go! The experimenting is over......

Fins season record will be 7-9 at best(losing to Pats, Texans, Steelers) but after seeing how they tanked in Bills game with 10 days to prepare I think they'll end up 5-11 (Jags and Titans aren't chumps).

Reality check for all the fans dreaming of playoffs:

10-6 could get Fins into playoffs but it's not going to happen.

9-7 or 8-8 won't get them into the playoffs either.

okay all the fans calling for coaches to get fired hold on just a minute now, yeah the play calling and game play was horrible yesterday r and it was a game we should of won but hey were not that good yet. have second eyar quarterback and no bg play reciever inguries riddle on both sides if we finish with a winning record thats great , making the playoffs long shot lets look to next year were headed in the right direction. last four years games in november were useless to us , we had a easy schedule n playoff berth and yall think were superbowl bound not yet folks not yet.

GINN is Garbage please CUT him!!!

Completely agree with Armando...Playcalling was TERRIBLE.

How do you have Williams THROW the ball from the 3 yrd line when your running the ball down there throats???

OC cost Fins this game!!!

Please bring on Charlie Weiss as the OC and get rid of that puke Pasqualoni. Henning is asleep up there more often than not. Blowing my mind right now that they expect Ricky to throw a pass when they are marching on them easily.

Contract Bridge is a card game where each player gets to compete playing identical hands. Tournament winners are the players who took good hands and won by more and with bad cards lost be less.

Coach Shula was great at over achieving taking good teams into the playoffs until they got beat by great teams. When he had a great team we got the 72' Dolphins.

Coach Sparano: You are a good 2nd yr coach who needs to be supported, not sold out, by his coordinators. Your STC would have had to improve to be terrible and finally did. Your OC, shinning like a light bulb, had his brightest hour just before burning out. Your DC has proven there is no virtue in consistency when it means being constantly out coached.

Remember: When a fish rots it starts at the head. Do something. Your coordinators stink.

Lets draft tebow so we can have three qbs on the field on the same play then on the first play give it to ginn on a triple reverse end around. The other team will be so amazed by hennings creativity they will forfeit on the spot.


Great post Armando. I was questioning the exact same things. Let me first say I have full confidance in Tony Sporano and believe he is a long term solution for us, but I have one question though. How much is he involved in the play calling during the game? Are the plays called by Henning alone or does Tony have influence over them, and if so, how much?

Yeah, that was a bad game.

I'm not sure why that put Ricky in that spot to throw-just dumb. And I am not sure why we running the WildCat with only Ricky in the back- they were stuffing it with Ronnie and Ricky in motion,etc, why do you think having Ricky alone, will work.

And the playcalling is too cute when it does not need to be. Why WildPat in the 4th with minutes left? For that to work, you need multple plays-whatver.

Silver lining, we might realize how bad we are and we might lose the rest of the season (some of those teams look damn good) and get a better draft pick. I vote Mando for coach.

I really want Parcells to consider hiring Charlie Weis. I think he's a great offensive coach. Plus with his pulse on the college scene the last few years his help in the draft would be of great benefit.

Chunk yards...The Bills got plenty and the fins did not. That really was the equalizer. You keep a team with nothing to lose around like that, particularly at home, and you are just begging to lose. Really a shame. I also think this constant talk of "finishing" is not helping things and becoming a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. Just play the f*cking game and stop psyching each other out. This one was on the coaching -- They simply did not show up with that killer instinct and take it to the Bills and kill the spirit of that 3-7 team. Sad really, cuz they were a contender up until that point and now are just pretenders. Not sure I see them doing much down the stretch which might not be such a bad thing as they will improve their positioning in the draft. Outside of WR/TE we will need to go NT/LB throughout the draft...As far as that curious call to throw on 1st down inside the 3 yard line when you have DOMINATED on the ground -- I'm at a loss for words. Just about the dumbest call I have ever witnessed. Flat out embarassing. I'm still sick to my stomach or maybe it was the burger at stake & ale's?

Can anyone tell me why the best player on the team (Ricky Williams) did not touch the ball for the final 6+ minutes of the game. The Dolphins were still ahead at that point, but instead of running the ball to win the game like a competent coach would do, it was throw throw throw. What does Ricky have to do to prove to these aholes that he should be getting the ball. I will never forgive Sparano who must secretly hate Ricky. I hate that idiot now more than Nick Satan and Dave Pornstache combined.

sparano is nothing more than an assistant coach period not even a coordinator even in wins this bozo gets outcoached. wake and turner cant earn more playing time but pat white keeps earning it yeah ok bozo

DODDSWORTH/MENACE 2016.....Brought to you by the committee to elect foreigners for a better country

Can I ask how many bonehead plays has Sparano called this year? All I can recall is Sparano explaining his dumb calls after every game. Not kicking a field goal when he should, calling time out when he should not, not going on a fourth and one and so on.

Right now we are still re-building but next year is for real, you don’t want this sloppy game calling when it counts.

I was expecting the jumbo back field of Hilliard and Polite to run it in on the first and goal and give Ricky a break. After all they were going to keep Ricky under 25 carries. I hope that Sparano does not pull a Wannstedt and runs Ricky to the ground this year, we need him next year.

This is so funny because no one gets it. But I have a sneaky hunch that the trifecta doesnt want to make the same mistake it made last year. That's making the playoffs.

Parcells is to wise and has been around to long and knows winning the afc east and making the playoffs was one of the biggest mistakes a 1-15 team could make. It cost valuable drafting position a team one year remove of complete disaster definitely could not afford.

Call me crazy, but I have a hunch the entire trifecta is in on a secret scheme not to make the playoffs. Watch and see, no coordinators will be let go or anything nearing that.

Why do you think Ginns still in the offense. Do you believe that this season Henning's all of a sudden gone senile with the play calling. What about some of Sparano's penchant for suddenly making boneheaded decisions in some critical moments.

Joey Porter couldnt tackle himself if he tripped over his own shoelaces. Yet they tell you Wake cant tackle. Need I give more, there really is more.

Even though they would never tell you, The trifecta doesnt want playoffs this year. They want great draft positioning. Tivo the season in your minds. Then you will see. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. Then gentlemen its a duck.

However, if this is really what the trifecta is doing, I agree with it 100%. If they were deliberately tanking the season not to make the playoff and gain better drafting status to build a championship calibre squad. Do you actually think that they would publically admit it?

Rock, if he does look for a relapse for Ricky, Iam even thinking about smoking something Illegal...

Dying breed, Iam contacting Oliver Stone on this possible conspiracy theory....

Q How do you keep Dan Henning out of your yard?

A Put up a goalpost

cuban menace you be good now. I or me know how you think, cause me is you. Now me head hurt. I go make meatball sub. Be nice to all farmers here. Me try to post under blue name but cannot because me posted as you or me. Me now confused.

Q What's the difference between Sparano and a dollar bill?

A You can get 4 quarters from a dollar bill.

"Dolphins coaching was a problem versus Bill" understatement of the year! We were out coached by a f*cking interm head coach!!! Every week I end up shaking my head & saying the same thing " our play calling is keeping every game close & we make things more complicated than they should be". On that 1st drive there was no need for Ricky to pass. He could have walked into the endzone for a TD. Hopefully we can address this before next season.

Cuban Parcells has been around far too long and knows you cant build championships with srubs for draft choices.

By winning the afc east we won the grand booby prize of having only 2 1/2 players in this year's draft making a significant contribution(Smith, Davis, Hartline. 2 2/3 if you want to add White and Clemmons.

If we go 0-5 the rest of the season, we make crack top 10 in positioning in a very deep draft this offseason. The trifecta must be salivating about how many top tier guys they can get out of this draft if they crack top 10.

sparanos new conference at 1130 am im guessing it will sound a little like this as usual. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH! YOURE EYES ARE LYING TO YOU BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH! PERCENTAGE THIS PERCENTAGE THAT BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH! this guy is horrible thanks alot tuna

I agree dying, might be the best thing to do is lose 4 out of the 5, but they MUST BEAT THE PATS...I hate that team...

Q What's the diff between a dollar bill and Tony Sparano?

A You can get 4 quarters out of a dollar.

play calling was horrible, whats new. ginn drops balls and RUNS TO THE SIDE LINE ON KICKS(duhh), whats new. Def gives up bug play after big play, whats new.

Our season ends Sunday. Thanks to our coaching.

Dont even want to think about what Brady will do to the defense this sunday...

Cuban, I hate the Pats too. But with the current talent we have we can keep it within 17pts. Close but no cigar.

GOpats fake post at 10;48

I think its time we realize these coachs are not high calibre types that are going to bring this team into a winning position ,Lets interview Mike Shanahan before the bills get him and we still have the Disney characters coaching us.

Gopats, I know, I suspect a plumber from Jersey is posting to cause trouble


true that on porter. he totally whiffed on that reverse (pass attempt) by owens.

I think we need to keep Sp[arano. I kinda hope they get Henning to pick his replacement.

I blame the loss on the coaches. The Pat White formation has not done much. It certainly messed with Henne. He is on a roll and we yank him and then put him in a hole and put him back in. The result was an INT. We really should have won that game.

Dying I agree with you 100% I don't want us to go to the playoffs we need good round draft picks and even if we did make playoffs we would never go all the way they are smart all u fans have to relize that we need alot of good drafts u can't rebuild a team in 2 years takes time but I really hoops they get rid of jp and jt there not the sane there getting old we need to bring in younger players we are rebuilding this team from scratch and we all have to be patciant things don't happen over night

fire morono
fire henning
fire paul

all 3 are clueless idiots

morono letting the garbage play calls go through


Some of you people are ridiculous. No, Sparano didn't have his best coaching game. But you know what, his worst coaching game is better than the best coaching game any of the suckas before him had since Shula. So if you have NO football acumen, just shut the hell up. Other than that, I agree with most of what's being said. Horrible, stupid, tragic call letting Ricky throw on the 2 yd. line. He's NOT RONNIE!! I agree Henning should go after this season. Ginn, what's left to say, he's just waiting until he gets cut after the season. But people, we lost our starting QB, RB, CB, LG, C, NT, c'mon, gimme a break. Did you REALLY think we'd make the playoffs? Seriously. In Chad Henne's FIRST year as a starter? Please, grow a brain. Chad has his worst game of his short career, and I'm amazed it hadn't happened yet. I'm almost happy it happened (it was bound to sooner or later). Now let's see how he bounces back. This will go a long way to finding out if he's the QB of the future or not. I'm disappointed, and sad that our team isn't as consistent as I'd like them to be, but I'm also realistic to what they could have done this year. I'm waiting to see what happens during the off-season, and if we become the annual contenders I want us to be. This is just a blip. It hurts, but if we truly are destined to be a good team year in and year out, this will be a rare occurance in the future, and that gives me hope!

I won't argue that coaching blew it yesterday. But what has concerned me, and continues to concern me is all the stock the Dolphins AND the Miami Herald are putting in Henne. The Herald likes to point out that he makes few mistakes, gives you a sense of stability at the QB position. What? Post-Marino, and a myriad of QBs, later must we settle for safe? Henne has shown one thing all season long, he is not a playmaker; a game changer. And until Henne starts to show me that, we will need the gimmickry of Henning to stay competitive in games.
Oh, and Armando, your denigrating of Fitzpatrick's training, ie. Harvard/ivy league experience is a unbecoming of a serious sports journalist. His Harvard brain allowed him to call that audible and throw it deep to Owens. If Henne had half of Fitzpatrick's brain, maybe yesterday would have resulted in a different turnout.

Once Again:


if CARLITO was the head coach fins woulg be 8-3 .
if CUBAN was the coach.................................7-4
if MARK was the coach...................................8-3
if SOILEDBOTTOM was the coach....................6-5

With the exception of Jake Long, the first 2 picks 2 years ago were d-lineman. The first 2 picks last year were seconday.
Does anyone expect the first 2 picks this year not to be linebackers?

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