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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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And Ace is NJ so what u can both get a life..

Man I just do not understand the Miami fans on here. What in the name of whomever is listening made you believe a team as young as Miami would be any more right now than what it is???

Did ya think after having a 1-15 2 short years ago this was a Super Bowl season? Really? What in the world are you doing that to yourself for?

Rebuild = 3 to 5 years... period.

Listen Miami fans, young and old. Better learn how to recognize and live within the means of what this club is capable of. Otherwise, you will be miserable. The entire Talking heads bunch said Miami would go 8 & 8 or 7 & 9. Did you think they were ALL WRONG??

Its a work in progress and if your expectations are too high, your inexperience and stupidity will make it even harder to deal with. If you do not understand, at least act like ya do so all the Miami fans don't look so stupid to think we would run the table or something? We are in a 100% rebuild. That is 3 to 5 years... period. Hang in there or GTF out of here...

what derek said,so true

I think the team quit because a lack of leadership on the field. Porter is a loud
mouth show off who gets consistantly beat
on the outside. Ginn is an infection that
has a tendancy to spread,his lack of courage,
his non exsistant eye/hand coordination,and
his sideline fasination while running back
kicks is becoming legendary. White is a draft
mistake,he will never be a NFL QB,isin't big
enough,and throws poorly. If he can't morf into
a wide receiver cut him. The coaching mistakes
are obvious. Henning is obcessed with gimmicks,
its a matter of risk,reward.That first drive
pass interception set the tone and was a major
cause of the meltdown.

How about Sprano calling for a timeout when the dolphins intercepted before half. Almost as bad as the timeout he took a few weeks ago, leaving 14 seconds on the clock.

I support just about all the information that was discussed in this blog. Tony Sparano may be an Italian, like the Tuna, but it seems that he does not have the respect of his players, who fold up in the fourth quarter all season as they continue to do! I do not remember another Parcel's "clone" having this problem! Next year better turn this stuff around or Miami is in big trouble!

I agree a few bad calls by our coaches but thats not whats wrong with our team in the end of the fourth quarter.We are usally ahead and teams start opening up there offence and it exposes our weakness young rookies covering one on one and old guys who I love but have nothing left to pressure the oposing quaterback.Let the young guys take over for Taylor and Potter and go to a zone coverage

What I saw on Sunday, as usual was a defense running around like they had no clue. When Fitzpatrick (or what every his name is) ran the touch down - the entire defense bit on the run and were all on the wrong side of the field. What happened to "stay in your lanes, no matter what?" The FINS will be lucky to win two more games this season. Gadget plays (and even though it's part of their offense, the Wild Cat is a gadget play and they will not have the success without RB in control) should be something you do on OCCASION - these guys try and run it down the other teams throat and it's NOT working any more. RW throwing an obvious pass - I could have picked that one - holy s**t what is wrong with this coaching staff? Is Shannahan still available? I love TS but he needs to reel in the D and O coordinators. I mean it's just embarassing to say you are a Fin fan at this point. To lose to the buffalo's was just plain sloppy. Fourth quarter let down all season - WTF after 11 games they still haven't figured out how to stop this enigma?

I think the part that bothered that bothered me most is that we couldn't adjust the play calling to counteract Buffalo's constant blitzing. It seemed like they just kept blitzing on every down and we never attacked that. It seems like our coaches have had a tough time making halftime or in-game adjustments and that shows in our fourth quarter performance.

Get rid of Henning, he did a nice job last year but he's slowing down the development of Chad. Enough of Pat White and this Wildcat BS in crucial situations. You have a pocket passer with a big arm. Line up in the SHOT GUN FORMATION,which apparently Henning has never heard of, and throw the damn ball! Im starting the call right now to get Charlie Weis as the next OC. Pay him whatever he wants

Great Article Armando: Its time to get in Sporanos Face

Horrible coaching decisions, this is not the first time these stupid decisions get made, There most be consequences to this lack of coaching balls.

armando if henning retires at season's end will charlie weis get looked at as a possible replacement and also what about al groh running the dolphins defense next season?

Mando, on the touchdown by Fitzgerald, I believe Porter was on the right side and Torbor was on the left side and he was the one who failed to get over and make the tackle on Fitzgerald. You failed to mention why Pat Turner is not playing. And wasn't one the reason Sean Smith was drafted is because he could possibly do a better job covering tall receivers like Randy Moss and T.O.?? It makes no sense not having him cover

Did I just see this Want-Ad in this morning's Herald?

Wanted: Travel agent that is capable of NOT mixing up two sets of tickets, one for the Saint Mary's Girls School for the Blind going to Bible Camp, the other for the Miami Dolphins flying to Buffalo. Our most recent travel agent obviously got those tickets mixed up this past weekend, much to our embarrassment."

Nice theory Dyingbreed, but with Channing Crowder, Torbor , Akin Ayodele and Joey Porter, linebackers poor against the run and pass. Inexperience at corner and safety. With third string receivers, a bad Coach in Sparano, dumb play calling from Henning, and one of the worst Defensive Coordinators in football. All this team has to do is hit the field and they're going to lose. The Fins need three better starting linebackers, one who can cover the tightend well. Number one receiver and much better tightend. And last but not least, an upgrade at Head Coach and both Defensive Coordinator and Offensive Coordinators.

Mando, on the touchdown by Fitzgerald, I believe Porter was on the right side and Torbor was on the left side and he was the one who failed to get over and make the tackle on Fitzgerald. You failed to mention why Pat Turner is not playing. And wasn't one the reason Sean Smith was drafted is because he could possibly do a better job covering tall receivers like Randy Moss and T.O.?? It makes no sense not having him cover the taller receivers in the league, especially in your division.

I need someone to go back and see my note after the first game in Atlanta - this team is going to go 8-8 and pick 20th in the draft, again.
I'll say it one more time - in this league you have to go either 13-3 (home field in the playoffs - win 2 games and your in) or 3-13 (top 10 pick in the draft). Picking 20th every year keeps a team at the mediocre level year after year - see the Dolphins of the 90s the Chiefs of the 90s - the Steelers of the 90s, etc.
Teams that pick in the top 10 for a few years - see Tampa - St. Louis - Baltimore - all end up winning the big one. Even the Steelers went 5-11 one year and Picked Big Ben the next year in the top ten (#8 if i'm not mistaken) and we all know what happened after that.








Hey jumbo, what do u call T. Brady? J. Taylor or J. Long? Long was #1 overall where are the Fins headed? Brady was selected in the 6 rd. And would probably be riding the pine if Jet lb Mo Lewis doesn't lay Bledsoe out. J , Taylor goes in the 4 rd and has had a HOF career. My point is the draft is a crapshoot. Doesn't matter where u draft. All that matters is who u draft. And how well they play in ur scheme.

What can I say.how about that I,am shocked to
see this kind of performance by a team that can
play much better and coaches that can coach much better too.dolphins????????????????????

You are right on all points Mando. This is not the only game in which Henning has "gotten cute" at the most inapropriate times. Time and again, we get in scoring range and he calls a high risk play that take us out of scoring range. The calls aren"t bad, it's just the timing of them. He needs a little more situational awareness.

has Dan Henning ever heard of a roll out. Henne had no time , why not roll him out of pocket. How can a player on offense develop anything consistant being pulled in and out of game. I would like a pro offense for this pro team, no more micky mouse plays.

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