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Postgame view of Dolphins victory at Buffalo

Are you unhappy with the Dolphins 15-10 victory on Sunday?

You might be because everything didn't go well. The offense was sluggish. The defense gave up a TD drive in the fourth quarter when the game's outcome still hung in the balance. The special teams missed a field goal, booted a kickoff out of bounds and had no returns to speak of.

And yet the Dolphins won.

As I write in this column there are specific issues the Dolphins must address starting today. One issue, in my humble opinion, involves how coaches handle the running back rotation. I get specific in the column so please check it out.

Another issue involves the play-calling with regard to flow. The Dolphins were working the Bills in their base set in the first half and then they went to the wildcat. It changed the flow and the drive stalled.

At another point, Miami was again bullying the Bills on an apparent drive. Then they called for an end around with Davone Bess. Bess who is a fine slot wide receiver with good quickness, but does not have a lot of speed to get wide. The reverse went for no gain.

So the Dolphins, who self-scout, would be well-served to check that out.

"We did the best we could this week to get ready for [the Bills] and they threw some stuff out there that we kind of weren't really prepared for," Bess said after the game. "But our coach put us in positions to be prepared at all times. When we saw the certain coverages, we had answers for them."

Said quarterback Chad Henne: "I think we just need to go back to work and we've got to concentrate. I've got to put the ball in better places and become a little more accurate and we have to and we have to come up with more catches out there and get the ball in the playmakers' hands. Overall it wasn't pretty, but we got some things done."

The defense got most of the things done. It is interesting to me that the unit that was totally revamped in the offseason -- from the coordinator to the captains to starting rookies and others that hadn't started before -- was the unit that carried the day.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan showed he can scheme pressure on the quarterback almost immediately when Karlos Dansby collected his first sack as a Dolphin on the game's third play. On that play, the Dolphins brought the blitz with Dansby and Wake on the same side and Dansby came unblocked.

"I was hiding behind [Cameron] Wake, he's a threat," Dansby said. "Somebody's got to make a decision on who to block. Coach Nolan did a great job of dialing up that play, we just put it in this week as a matter of fact and we executed well."

I told you when the Dolphins signed Dansby they loved his ability to rush the passer as well as cover as well as play inside. Then coach Tony Sparano said Dansby was signed to play inside linebacker and talk of moving the player around died.

... Until yesterday.

"I'm all over the place," Dansby said. "You can't really pinpoint me. I've got a lot of guys around me. All I'm trying to do is to help them become better as ball players."

The defense tackled quite well for the first game out, I thought. There were no costly or obvious missed tackles like the ones that plagued much of last season. That will continue to be key as the Dolphins prepare to stem the Adrian Peterson tide next Sunday.

It was interesting perhaps only to me that Nolan employed in the first game what former defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni always hesitated doing: Matching up corners on receivers.

Under Pasqualoni, the Dolphins played a straight right-left scheme. Vontae Davis was always the left cornerback while Sean Smith was always the right cornerback. When I would ask why he wouldn't match up, Pasqualoni would say it created other problems he didn't wish to deal with.

Nolan apparently has no issues dealing with those. And he obviously has no issues dealing with the advantages of the strategy, either.

So Sunday, Jason Allen followed Lee Evans all over the field. Wherever Evans lined up, Allen lined up, be it left or right of the formation. Davis followed Steve Johnson all over the field.

That strategy will get interesting when the Dolphins play passing teams like New England and Green Bay. It will speak to which cornerback the Dolphins feel has a better opportunity to contain the likes of Greg Jennings or Donald Driver or Randy Moss.

One would also hope, by the way, the Dolphins will throw a changeup to this strategy at times, also. That means I would guess there will be times the Dolphins don't match up so as to not be predictable. Nolan will do that, too. He's pretty impressive so far.


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Mando you have to ask him why he doens't put henne in shotgun more often but especially in third and long situations. He doesn't have time to see the field.

It's almost like the Fins approached the game on offense like it was a fifth preseason game, for better or for worse. Henning definitely either needs to step up or step aside.

Jamillion - I agree with you and particularly re Clemons, Misi and Odrick, and Wake too, all 4 guys were question marks, "how well will they play as rooks and/or new starters. They all played pretty darn well. What a relief!

We knew Wake could rush, but be an every down LB? He looked good.

Odrik looks like a beast out there, big, fast and athletic.

Misi - a rookie at OLB? me thinks he'll be just fine.

Nolan's schemes - how well would the Fins implement them? Very well, thank you.

Looks like we have a solid D after all this year.

Although one game is not enough to measure, I saw no major breakdowns (other than the 4th Qtr TD pass) good swarming to the ball, constant pressure on Green and good tackling - and good coverage by the secondary.

This is a young and fast D that will make some mistakes against the better teams, but will only get better as the season progresses as guys like Wake, Misi, Clemons get more experience.

Coming out of there with a win is very important. We never play good up there. No matter how bad the bills are they always play us tough up there. Two very good things.... we won the season opener and we got a road win against a division foe.

totally agree enrique1085. they need to lock him out of the stadium on game day. going back to last year, his play calling makes no sense. such as the play called last season @ BUFF when we had Ricky passing out of the wildcat when the base running game was working great.

its funny, the trifecta has shown far more patient with henning than anybody body else, player or coach.

I was pretty down on Henne after watching the game, but I keep hearing the Bills secondary is very good, so guess I have to temper my criticism.

I did not like all the check down throws, but Henne did not throw an INT either. Guess he was playing it safe.

I thought the running game was solid, the OL opened holes and protected Henne pretty well, so we can all stop the worries re Sparano "tinkering with the O line too much" in pre-season.

One just has to assume that Henne will get the timing down better with Marshall and Moore his new WR's going forward. Hartline could not get open, guess the Bills have solid corners.


Posted by: enrique1085

I agree enrique, Ross should get off his butt, fly to NO and hire Sean Peyton as our new DC!!

I'm sure Sean would jump at that chance.

Mark in Toronto,

I was at the game yesterday too and I think the score flattered the Bills. Watching the game I never felt that the Dolphins were in any danger of losing the game. The Dolphins first stand on defence set the tone for the game. Also, if you look at the time of possession the Dolphins had the edge, something like 36 mins to 23. Sparano said before the game that the key to victory would be to win the turnover battle, hence the conservative play calling. I felt it would be to control the Buffalo run game and eliminate the big play. The Dolphins defence did a nice job of this.

Next week is already a 'must win' game for Minnesota. I saw nothing from them on Thursday that scares me about them. Favre is out of sync and looking for answers. The secondary is susceptible to the big play against them. I expect Henne and the offence to air it out more in the second game, in the dome, and against a weak secondary. Let's make Brett Favre wish he had never come back this year!

Break Favre's hip!

I'm grateful for the win but lets all be honest,if Henne and this Offense becomes as cautious as it was,we're in for alot of trouble.

The Bills had absolutely nothing going Offensively throughout the game,yet instead of trying to put the game to bed,the playcalling was ridiculously conservative. I can understand being conservative with 10 minutes remaining in the 4th but to come out after Halftime and just try to see the game out,thats not gonna get it done against far better opposition.

I think we can all agree that this team will only go as far Henne takes us but i'm concerned that the leash is very tight and we'll never know if Henne's the real deal.


There were games last year that Henne lost late for us due to ridiculous and ill-advised passes. Granted he was forced to open things up for us after the defence had failed to stop the opposition late. I'll take a win like yesterday every week. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers win games based on their defence and good running game. Yesterday's game was a good example. The year we went 11-5, a big part of that was that we didn't turn the ball over and the defence stepped up. That's what I'm looking for against this year. I'll win ugly every week if we have to. I'd rather be a Dolphins fan this morning that an Cowboys fan. That could have been us yesterday, with the wrong game plan.

i was at the game and am glad we won thanks to mike nolan! but it wasnt pretty on offense. seems like the regime/coach has made henne a game manager;nothing more. when he drops back he almost always checks it down for 3-4 yards even when receivers are open. he is definitely scared to throw the ball downfield because he's been told not to make a mistake that could hurt the team. no QB can be successful when he wears handcuffs! he missed a wide open marshall with a badly underthrown ball where it would have been an easy TD if he had let marshall run underneath it. you cant play nfl football being afraid to air it out. our offense kept the bills in the game till the end.

i though we weren't conservative enough actually. the bills couldn't stop our running game yet we kept throwing the ball. the worst was when we could have run the game out. two straight first downs, we were at their 40ish second and 5. incomplete pass then give up a sack. we ran too well not to just pound them into dust.

but!! no matter what any negative fan may say, this was a great win in a place we haven't won in 5 years. let's start prepping for the vikes. i don't think we showed much on defense in that game. not a ton of exotic blitzes. hopefully we can keep even more stuff under wraps to unleash on the jets. i want to win against the vikes, but i want to embarrass the jets!! we didn't show much of offense either. i'd say the only thing was brown running the 3 back option we ran last year with white. i imagine we got some offensive tricks to be revealed. i'd like to see those stay under wraps for the jets too.

one last thing!!! GO RAVENS!!!

Bills were only one play away from upsetting the Patriots in game 1 last season. They always play game one tough no matter the opponent. So lets see how the offense performs against the likes of Minnesota before we throw down our judgements.


The only times that Henne lost late for us due to ridiculous passes last season was because we were losing by 10-14 points and we became very one-dimensional. We've now got Marshall who should make every other Offensive player play alot better.

Winning ugly is great but i just think it only gets you so far. All i'm saying is that this Offense has the potential to rack up 27+ points a game and it's alittle bit frustrating at times to see us wait for the opposition to shot themselves in the foot rather than going out to try to go up 2 TD's in a game.


Posted by: enrique1085

I agree enrique, Ross should get off his butt, fly to NO and hire Sean Peyton as our new DC!!

I'm sure Sean would jump at that chance.

I'm sure he would too, I mean how can you say no to hot women and palm trees??? lmao

Looking at how many teams got pass happy yesterday and lost, Bengals, Rams, Cowboys, Colts, you do have to give credit to our staff for making sure to keep balance. I do worry about our interior line play, Ricky averaged 3.4, Ronnie 5.0 but that was more from his extra effort than holes to run through. I'd like to see more play-action, and better use of screen passes. Bess and especially Marshall should be catching bubble screens. And I have said it for weeks now, if we are going to run an empty seat, PUT HENNE IN THE SHOTGUN. That makes me so mad it is crazy.


If you were in charge, would you do away with the Wildcat in games were the offense is moving the ball at will out of base formations?

mark- i do agree with you that i think there is a don't make a mistake noose around henne's neck. hopefully the coaches will loosen up. that's not a great thing to do to a QB. it usually results in a lot of checkdowns. they need to have confidence in him and that cannon. eli threw some picks, but made up for it with plenty of TD's. let henne be somewhere between a game manager and a gunslinger at least!! he got too much arm to be a manager!!!

Any word on Odrick's injury?

And I have said it for weeks now, if we are going to run an empty seat, PUT HENNE IN THE SHOTGUN. That makes me so mad it is crazy.

Posted by: bootang25 | September 13, 2010 at 01:07 PM

I think it makes everyone that know even a little about football mad. What makes me madder is that we,(football idiots) can think about these things, but the coach getting payed millions(the guru's)can't! It pisses me off!!!

why did they only rush 3 on the 4th and 11 and gave up that touch down. I bet that was sparano's call not nolans.

And culver needs to be cut after that play. You can never let a receiver run by you deep when your the free saftey.

LET'S think only MIN next game.......attack

farve .....until his mother shows up looking for him .

Wow just saw the stats on penalties... only one on defense three penalties total.

remember if dansby and misi do not do their job next week we will parade them as failure .if we win we will be in the playoffs unless the head coach screw things up .

Craig, you are right. That game was a blowout everywhere except on teh scoreboard.

Yesterday, I was sitting behind the bench and pleaded with Sparano to put the Wildcat in the garbage. Haha, that's all I can do.

And Henne was in the shotgun a few times yesterday as it wasn't that loud of a Buffalo crowd. In my opinion, the Buffalo crowd has really lost it's spirit. 10 years out of the playoffs will do that to a city. I remember a time when I wouldn't even dare cheer for the Phins there. Now, they just joke around with me. People started leaving with about 8:30 left in the 4th qtr.


AGREED 100% !!!

I had a dream that Cam Wake was present at the Vikes post game conference when Favre announced his retirement for the umm..th time. He was there to apologize to Favre, and to tell him "it wasn't personal, he was just doing his job"..

definitely henne in the shotgun would make sense;see the field better and pick up his receivers sooner. i'd like to see some quick slants over the middle on 1st downs instead of the 2 yard runs. our D was awesome especially pleased with jason allen and chris clemons who were concerns. didnt miss sean smith. hope we sign charles grant again!

no, i wouldn't do away with the wildcat. the wildcat still works and it also gets us looks at how the defense reacts. i'd add some new wrinkles too. run thigpen out, even if just a decoy. i never thought they used white properly in the wildcat. ronnie should be the QB and have white(now thigpen) be the motion guy. i'd probably use the wildcat more against non-division teams though.

Some observations:

1) Buffalo's decision to concede a safety, rather than go for it on 4th and 10 from their own 1 yd. line near the end of the game, was wrong in so many ways that I won't even bother to explain.

2) Every morning I attempt to crack all the knuckles on my 8 fingers (2 knuckles x 8 fingers = 16 knuckles). Each successful crack represents a Dolphins victory in the regular season. This morning I went 16 for 16.

Then I crack my knees. The first crack represents the AFC Divisional Playoff. The next crack represents the AFC Championship. The Dolphins won both games.

Then I try to crack my thumbs. If I crack both successfully on the first try, then the Dolphins win the Super Bowl.

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning the Dolphins not only won the Super Bowl, but had a perfect season.

3) If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have been more careful about public flatulence.

4) My wife makes me buy Star Magazine when I go shopping. I like to look at the pictures. I don't know who Blake Lively is, but she sure is a pretty gentile.

5) We had a washing machine delivered yesterday just as the Dolphins game was starting. I ended up missing Karlos Dansby's sack. I will never get that magic back.

6) Kim Kardashian has a perfect body, but she wears far too much make-up.

By the way, Odrick really looked uncomfortable and was limping around for the whole 2nd half. I guess the good news was that eh did come back to the bench in uniform in the 4th quarter although he didn't get back into the game.

Bobby Carpenter played a lot yesterday too in the nickel package. Guess they are using him in the way they had envisioned using Edds.

VIKINGS DREAMS......... favre has 2 interceptions by davis and 1 sack by dansby.

second gream.......marshall and fasano 2 TD .
P.S THESE dreams are not far fetched ,


Marshall isn't going to be the answer every week. Look at the Texans yesterday. High scoring game but Andre Johnson comes out of it with 31 yards. Doesn't matter....they beat a team they've been trying to beat for 8 years with no success (I know they beat them once). Just saying, that we can't expect perfection every week. The Cowboys looked horrible last night and I'd be very upset if I was a Cowboys fan or my team put an effort like that out there. Last point, two years ago we went 11-5 with Chad Pennington at the controls and there were very few games that the offence was opened up. It can be done.

Henne does what he's told to do.

Yesterday's win was a typical "Parcells" team win: good defense ans a low-risk (=boring) offense. Parcells has never won a game diferently.

Sparano said during the week that we had to win the turnover battle. That's what they put in Henne's mind: don't go for the risky big play. That explains the checkdowns (also credit Buffalo's good secondary).

And I'll take a game manager over a gambler every day.

Home teams were 11 - 3 yesterday - its hard to get a road win on opening day in this league - we'll take it. Now, lets go and get another one in Minnesota next week. Lets just be more physical than them and let the chips fall where they may.
Any word on Odrick's injury Mando?

Armando's column:

So Brown gains 10 yards, then 11 yards on consecutive carries, and then coaches decide that's the time to take him out of the game.

On another occasion, Brown gained 17 yards to the Buffalo 33-yard line with 11:34 left to play. So of course, he didn't get another carry until 2:53 was left in the game.

And with that, my head wishes to explode.

I understand the concept of keeping both running backs fresh. Do the Dolphins understand the concept of giving the ball to the hot runner?

Thank god I'm not alone in this! Armando brother, I feel your pain!!!

The wildcat is simply a numbers game. Having the RB get the snap means that we have hat-on-hat football, the RB in theory only has to make one guy miss and he could score a touchdown. Having the QB line up out wide not only unevens the blocking, it also leaves him open to shots. We should
NEVER have the QB on the field in the wildcat. Also, the sweep motion should always be used, as it goes to make the defense hesitate. We handcuff one of our best formations by our own design. Plain stupid.

Yann. A lof good points. I agree. And PittsburghJim, god point about how tough it is to get a road win. Let's celebrate this guys. There are 16 teams after this week who would like to be 1-0 and won't be.

I look for my boy Micah Johnson to have a bigger impact than just on specia teams this week. He is very good in the run game, much better than Carpenter and Dobbins is dinged up.

every one is talking like we are already in the super bowl ,that's why when we fail to go deep in the playoffs we act like ugly women .

I don't want to see Channing Crowder on the field Sunday. It's obvious that he's not missed. He doesn't get back into the starting lineup until this team shows that they can't stop the run. Until then he can stay injured.

I'm not a big second guess type guy, but it does make you wonder why we didn't seriously look at Mike Vick last year. Given our track record of looking at guys with checkered pasts, and the high price we paid for the poor man's Vick (Pat White) this could have been a home run for us.

I'm sure he would too, I mean how can you say no to hot women and palm trees??? lmao

Posted by: enrique1085

Instead, in New Orleans Sean Payton has palm women and hot trees.

i dream fat rex crash and sanchez pulled out of the game for too many interceptions .

I can't wait to see the JETS get pounded tonight!

Anyone else with me?

A few things surprised when when I got the final defensive stats for game one.

Is Wake underrated?

It doesn't seem like Wake did all that much if you just look at tackles (he had three). But look a little deeper: of those 3 tackles, all were solo, 2 were tackles for loss, he had 1 sack, 2 QB hurries, and he had 2 passes defended. Pretty good day. I'm saying Cameron is vital to this D even if he doesn't have that many tackles.

I'd heard that Karlos led the team in tackles, but Yeremiah also had eight (six solo), so let's give credit where its due. YB was hitting like a monster out there. Clemons too.

Nolan is the real deal.


You know it! Most if not all Dolphins fans utterly hate the smegma-green team.

It seems obvious to me now that Nolan and the team didn't want to show their cards to opposing to teams in the pre-season. As lacklustre as we played, and as vanilla as our defence was, there is no point in showing teams what you are going to do in the pre-season, so that they can plan and strategize for us. I would think teams would have a better idea after yesterday's game but something tells me Nolan still has a few tricks up his sleeves. Very excited about what he brings to the table.

Aloco - how do you see the jets going 0-2 and the pats going 1-1 when they play each other next week?

that was a dream gcfan79. since pats going to be in the playoffs for sure let them kill the jets .

fins...... 2-0.......

You here again ALoco? LOL

we act like ugly women .

Posted by: ALoco

Too funny, I hope its an act.

I just realized that after tonight's game, only one team in the AFC West would have won a game. Wow! lol

Bills passing defense was ranked #2 last year as indicated on NFL.com. This was a good win, a divisional win on the road. Cant really ask for more.


And that one by default tonight, but they could even end in a tie. No wins in entire division. ROFL

CraigM, I was thinking the same thing. Crowder was definitely NOT missed out there. We were rusty, like everyone else. But, our boy Allen had a pick-6, Benny Sapp had a pick-6, we should have won by 3 TDs (the other being the missed pass to Marshall). Over time, I think all phases will play better. But the key is beating the opponent no matter how you play. The name of the game is outplaying the other guys, and we did that yesterday.

Misi and Odrick, extremely impressive. Dansby is a beast, he's what we've been missing at LB all these years. Wake is definitely our pass-rush leader this year, no doubt. I'm very happy Allen had a good game, it's about time. Our special teams wasn't horrible for once, and that Fields punt to the 1 was the back breaker.

On offense, Marshall, Bess and Fasano seem to be in good form. Hartline, uhh, a little more time (he kind of got lost in there a bit I think). Ronnie and Ricky were their normal outstanding selves. Oline was ok (could get better, but overall did a good job). Henne needs to be more consistent, but equally important is he didn't turn the ball over. I like that more than the consistency to tell you the truth. Just don't lose the game, and trust your defense will have your back. I'm excited for this year!

Sorry, when I said Dansby is what we were missing all these years, I mean since Zach (don't want anyone to get it twisted that we didn't have an elite LB during his tenure).


As soon as Darlington's done waxing the Vette, swing by and pick me up.

I got some film we need too show the Head linesmen for the Minnesota game.

I want to make sure he sees and understands the "techniques" that Offensive linemen are using to try and stop Wake.

One more thing the Dolphins need to work on is clock management. If you go back and watch the film on the 2nd to last drive with under 3 minutes left in the game and Miami essentially trying to run out the clock, Henne snapped the ball at least twice (and maybe all 3 times) with about 10 seconds left on the play clock. This led to Miami having to run 1 extra play right before the 2 minute warning. Basically, if Henne had let it run down to 1 or 2 seconds there was no reason that Buffalo ever needed to get the ball back that one last time. It's something small and will be overlooked because we won, but it's something that shouldn't have happened. Watch the final 3 minutes of the game again and you'll see what I mean.

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