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Dolphins special teams: Not aggressive

The Dolphins are back at work this morning and there is absolutely nothing newsworthy to report other than the fact everyone -- with the exception of Benny Sapp --is practicing.

The media was in the house while the Dolphins were working on special teams under new coordinator Darren Rizzi. There is nothing extraordinary to report there, either. (If there were, I couldn't report it under Dolphins media policies anyway.)

But ...

Watching the period made me wonder: When was the last time the Dolphins took a chance on special teams? When was the last fake field goal? When was the last fake punt? When was the last reverse on a kickoff? When was the last onside kick?

My memory doesn't go back that far.

My point is the Dolphins are, along with the San Diego Chargers, perhaps the worst special teams unit in the NFL this year. They are now coming out of a bye weekend, having had time to digest their collapse against the New England Patriots and the firing of John Bonamego.

So they've had time to work on things and to work things out. They have nothing to lose anyway, so why not get aggressive and attack, attack, attack if they are otherwise not getting the job done so far.

I can handle mistakes on special teams when the unit or a player is pressing the issue. But this unit has been making mistakes simply doing the routine. So why not press the issue? Why not try to win a game on special teams for once?

[UPDATE: I asked coach Tony Sparano about this issue today. It does not seem like he shares my sentiments. Basically, he's saying he's not prone to try freaky stuff to gamble on greatness.

“No, I don’t think so. I mean I just think…I don’t think you want to deviate too far from where you’ve been. Now, there’s obviously every week we’re prepared and we prepare our players for different scenarios that could come up in the game from a special teams standpoint, but, I don’t think that’s changed. Our approach hasn’t changed in what we’re telling our players and what—and I don’t think you can…you want to get into desperate measures with that group. Because I actually do think that there’s some people within those units that have gotten a lot better and I’ve already said this before—and you guys aren’t hearing me when I’m saying it, or you are and you choose not to. But it really…although the evidence doesn’t show you that it isn’t really far away I don’t think from being fixed—and that’s one of the reasons why I think when you make a change like you did the continuity thing is important because there’s enough good things on film that I think you know are going to get us a lot closer to the end result. So, I don’t know that going out there and you know trying to rush every punt or faking field goals or doing any of those things is the measure…it just wouldn’t—really depends on the situations in the game and whether or not it’s right. I can tell you that you know in three or four games right now those things have been on the table and just you know has a large—in special teams a tremendous amount of whether or not you can pull something like that off. It has to do with what they’re showing you and it really does, so. Some of those things came and went and nobody ever knew about it.”

Well, it was a shot by me.]

If you're response is the Dolphins should always kick the ball because the punting is great or the field goal kicking is great, I have news for you. You are wrong on at least one of those points.

Miami's punting is hurting now. Brandon Fields is not kicking the ball great this year, perhaps for the first time since he was drafted in 2007.

Fields has a net punting average of 32.8 this season. That is 31st of 32 punters listed. He has a gross punting average of 40.9. That is 29th of 32 punters listed.

So I asked coach Tony Sparano why he thinks Fields hasn't been his usual self so far.

“The only thing I could say there, you know, we had one ball game there that, and I don’t really remember the game whether it was Buffalo or Minnesota -- it might have been Minnesota, where maybe it didn’t go as well as maybe he would have like it," Sparano said. "And then he’s had several opportunities really to knock it down inside the 20 yard line, the 15 yard line in there which he’s done a very good job of so far.

"I think that with that in mind we’ve been kicking going in a little bit and that’s been, that’s been probably has something to do with his numbers. One of the things we talked about as a team today which I think is important is we’re last in the league right now in average drive start, in field position, dead last. We’re, we’re starting on the 24 yard line and our opponents are starting somewhere right around the 31 yard line, so that has to change and it has to change in a lot of areas not only Brandon, not only (Dan) Carpenter, our coverage units, special teams. That can be, it will change with turnovers, us creating opportunities in their end of the field a little bit and certainly our offense with drives into that end of the field and us being able to knock them down in there. We need to start to change some field position around here and get it going the other way."


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They did a few mini reverse type things with cobbs and ginn last year; seemed to work ok!

i'm losing all faith in the team because of the poor coaching on special teams and on offense. 2 ugly wins on the road when we let teams stay in the game. then 2 poor efforts at home in primetime. i hope things change but i am realistic. i dont think you can change your stripes. i'm afraid sparano will go back to a run first team because thats all he knows. he's also afraid henne will make a mistake. mike nolan has been great but he's all alone at the top. i hope aaron rodgers plays and i hope we can put together a full game. what bothers me most is we seemed to quit against the pats.

I Beg to differ, I'm pretty sure our special teams has taken a risk every time they set foot on the field this year.

Didn't the team win a game on special teams last year?

I'd rather they just not lose a game on special teams. No need to get goofy.

Brandon Fields has been an outstanding directional and red zone punter this year, many times pinning teams deep in their zone on punts starting inside the opposing team's zone. Naturally, that's going to lower his per punt averages. The real crimes are blocking on punts, and kickoff return coverage, as well as kickoff returns, both of which have been horrible.

Grant, Brandon helped seal one win against Buffalo with an oustanding punt in the 4th. I was sitting right there on the 20 yd line, 12th row, got a close up view, it was a beauty.

How about that on-side kick against Detroit in 2000.
We kicked their butts and made their coach quit.



If they ran a reverse on a kick return and it got snuffed, or they failed to convert a surprise onside kick, you'd slaughter them for carelessness or stupidity.

It's the same way you critique Henne for not taking chances, then when he does, and it gets picked, you slam him for making poor decisions.

It must be nice to be "right" no matter what angle you report on huh?

mando. wt flip,/ i tried picking you up on that am radio staion but at a whooping 2 watts of output,i had to drive through your front door so i could hear you.lol

Have witnessed very impressive punts by Fields @ training camp
From the back of the end zone Fields has routinely punted the ball to the 30 YD line with a rush
It was amazing to watch repeated 80 YD punts
(from back of the end zone add 10 Yds)

Of course this practice
and it not the same as game day conditions

Fields did have a 68 YD punt against the NY Jets and a 59 YD punt against Minn

Will not mention New England ST meltdown which obv is why the average is so low

So Obviously blocking and getting the ball punted away r the issues at hand for the Miami Dolphins

EXPRESS....tell us one more story from your old book .

dolphins fan when they know the season is going down the tube they look for an old story .

Do like Armando`s thoughts on a little razzle dazzle on STs
An occasional fake punt for a short screen or out pass
Could work quite well
As opposing teams will be gunning to get to Fields, since It is now proven he can be gotten to with relative ease

U use the speed & over aggressiveness of the rush against our opponents
For example blooping a short screen pass over the rushers head for a wide open receiver with room for lots of RAC

Also misdirection on KR with a lateral hand off
Clearly the straight forward approach with the limited talent we have at KR is not working or scaring anyone

Nice blog, Armando

Also it seems like the writer is so caught up in making sure the we read every repeated word out of Sparanos mouth that he actually ignored the fact that Sparano was saying the same thing. Good listening skills.

Yeah, at this point this unit can't even tie their shoes, let alone be trusted to run a gadget play. I could see it now. Phins start the game with an onside kick, the packers not fooled pick it up and take it to the house 7-0 g.b. From that point the great dan henning gets cold feet, and on our fist drive on their 25 yard line run a wildcat reverse option pass. With the Ball in Hartlines hands he throws an interception to a eligible Vernon Carey in the endzone.14-0 Pack. My point is, and Mark In Toronto said it perfectly, lets go out and win the game, and not give the ST's and our little gadget plays lose them for us!

I think the last time we executed a successful punt fake was with Larry Izzo, who took a short snap and converted a 4th and 5. It must have been in 96' or 97'

Does this guy understand the practice of punting to try and pin an opponent. Fields has been doing a fine job.

Hey, phinsider, go shove your phins up your butt on your own lame blog, loser.

I LOVE Sparano, I think he is a fantastic coach. The team is almost always prepared to play, which is a head coach's job.

But Bonamego has been terrible for 3 years. He should have been fired 2 years ago. If the Jets and Pats losses help Sparano get fired, I will not feel bad for him. The Phins have had horrific special teams for 3 years, this move should have been made a long time ago.

if you get a high school soccer player ,he would do a better job .still the damage has been done vs jets and pats .

Shane Lechler is and has been the best punter in the NFL for several years. He leads the NFL in both categories Salguero is discussing.

The great punters have great net averages. ALL OF THEM.

Ridiculous how people that don't know the game are arguing with stats and the football blogger.

let's pretend the season still alive and well after the 2 famous losses .

We had won the game vs Vikes, but the offense did everything they could to give it away, then defense did not show vs Jets, then Brady was under control, but ST gave it away..mistakes happened cuz Henne was force to force it.
Now even if Roger dont play we will give them the game. The Lack of Marinos hasnt been our problem, is been the coaching staff since shula left us.

We need to run the football more, that is our strength. Not sure why we departed from that. Run the ball effectively and play defense and the pressure is off the STeams.

no smiley no grove.

ALoco, you are very down on the Dolphins it seems. No reason to give up the ghost yet!!

Mando, you're insights are usually pretty good. But holy Garo Yepremiam, you're off on this one. Our STs can't even get the basics right (blocking and tackling).

On second thought, what the hell....why not have STs do trick plays everytime? Kind of like the WC when it was new.




"They have nothing to lose anyway"
They have everything to lose like a chance to get to the playoffs. No tricks please just play good special teams.






Dolfans ST will get better (hard to get much worse)

Look for CB Nolan Carroll to take flight soon as the new Miami Dolphin`s KR

Nolan Carroll started handling KR duties for the Miami Dolphins last week against the Patriots

Like this rookie w/blazing speed @ KR (still raw & learning @ CB)
and he is Not a Shucking & Jiving Loud Mouthed Punk

Quite the contrary
Raised by two admirable parents, Nolan Carroll answers to the tune of,
"Yes Sir" to his coaches

Nolan`s mom
United States Navy lieutenant commander and a politician currently serving as a Florida state representative
His father, Nolan Carroll, Sr., was a senior master sergeant in the United States Air Force

Well disciplined and not someone known to run his mouth or step outside of the lines
Nolan Carrol will let his play do his talking on the field as starting Miami Dolphin KR at 1:00 in Green Bay

Lombardi will not be turning over in his grave having Nolan Carroll as a respected player in the National Football League

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

ALoco, we do have a QB coach - he revolutionized the wildcat.

Henne is fine. Henne is in the top half of many Qb rankings - and he's faced 2 good defenses in MInny and NYJ and didn't look out of his element against either.

He is so far from being a problem here.

i didn't know that henne does have a coach .no i don't mean henne is the problem but how you say ( HE REVOLUTIONIZED THE WILDCRAP ) ?

We always seem to start drives at the 20 and have to defend short fields because of ST. If the punt isn't blocked, we always seem to give up way too many yards. We also can't set up a return to save our lives. We give up too many yards on KO's & we can't set up blocks for them either.

This wasn't Bonamego's fault. This is Ireland & Parcells fault for not having better talent. But let's face it, this game is VERY winnable & IS a must win. Win this game & find a way to split with Pitt/Baltimore, and we have a realistic chance at a Wildcard. Lose this game & that's all she wrote folks.

Also Sparano's fault Joe Schmoe. Sparano keeps falling in love with journeymen players for some reason.

Now we see what a mistake it was to ship Ted Ginn to San Fran...As much as most of us despised him, he was an effective contributor on Special Teams, but the FO gave up on him and chose to keep two rookie WR´s, although with potential, that have not produced anything at all. Maybe a financial decision, but definitely a questionable one. Now our chances of scoring on special teams are reduced to zero.

Cid, I never saw Tedd Ginn block or tackle someone. That is the major problem. I can live without the occasional long return until we find a guy who can replace Ginn but it would be nice if they can punt and tackle consistently.

True Mark, I intended to write his name in but missed it. He is too obsessed with scrub olinemen trying to redo an o-line for 3 years running that they are unable to find special teams players.

Not reduced to zero
and ted ginn this season has scored as many ST touchdowns as the Miami Dolphins have scored, 0

Give Nolan Carroll a chance

Expect improvements in STs this week in Green Bay

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

Do blocked punts count against the average (serious question, I really don't know)? i.e. if a punter has 2 punts, one goes for 50 yards and the other gets blocked does he average 25 yards for those 2 punts?

If so, then 2 blocked punts would definitely account for a much lower average.

I think Fields average has less to do with him not being able to get distance as much as it is situational pinning them deep and ALOT of return yards going against him.

Thursday, 14 Oct 2010
By: Reuters

Gold rallied to FRESH RECORD HIGHS on Thursday as the dollar slid to its LOWEST level this year versus a basket of major currencies, boosting interest in the metal as a haven from currency market volatility.

high today of 1388. up nother 8 bucks

Fields has done an admiral job, really, I mean that.

He's quickly becoming the best TACKLING punter in the league.

mark in toronto- ginn should have got hustle of the year for his strip of sharper- unbelievable that wasnt called correctly.
bottomline- he was a top tier return man that i think we miss. he was a rotting apple when he lined up at receiver however every time the ball was in the air on a kickoff, you knew there was a chance it could go to the house. we dont have that right now

Anyone see the kick off specialist Indy has? The guy is huge. Dolphins should get someone like that, they need the extra tackler if not the extra yardage on kickoffs, hahaha.

aloco.it's halloween. lots of trix. trix are for st's.it'll be fun to watch..watch.

Fields has had 17 punts this year, with 10 being downed inside the 20. This is tied for 5th in the NFL. But the other 5 punters tied or ahead of him have had 27, 28, 27, 23, and 21 punts. Fewer punts, yet in the leaders in "inside the 20" punts. That'll make for a lower average, genius. Way to put in that extra effort, Armando. Glad to see you're really earning that paycheck.

geno, for as electric as Ginn was capable of being, he did have some ugly returns as well. He showed ZERO courage which is why he was never used on punts.

Granted, the refs did miss that call when he stripped Sharper. Game might have had a different outcome, oh well.

Really, does the fact Fields has one of the lowest ranked punting averages in the NFL even make the top 5 list of fundamental ST problems displayed so far this year?

"he was a rotting apple when he lined up at receiver however every time the ball was in the air on a kickoff, you knew there was a chance it could go to the house. we dont have that right now"

If the house you're referring to was located on either sideline I'd agree with you. Against the Jets, he performed. Aside from that game, he would always duck out of bounds instead of fighting for yards. I can't think of another memorable return last year than the 1 game. I miss Ginn on offense stretching the field for Marshall more than I do on special teams.

Regarding his strip play, If he had caught the ball cleanly instead of allowing the int, he would have gotten some recognition.

mark.when you don't get 1st downs and allow your d to rest, you are a big part of the problem.

that putz cris carter told ginn himself that if you want to last in the nfl as a wr,slide and run out of bounds.

mark.this is what i want to see from henne.
just for kix.

And wait a second, according the stats at ESPN, Fields' net average is 36.6, but at NFL.com is listed as 32.8. There's a problem somewhere with the stats.


You're absolutely right about Fields, well said.

You're wrong about Armando or anyone else that believes the "skewered" stats.

They don't have to put in any extra effort, they just need to WATCH the games!

When your offensive coordinator consistantly runs up the middle on 3rd and long inside the opponents 40 yard line, it tends to limit your net punting opportunities.

Putting Fields into the special teams problem talk is ridiculous.

2 watt, I have no issue whatsoever with Henne this year. In the first 2 games, the ball was taken out of his hands. He was asked just not to lose the game, and he didn't.

In game 3, they got behind and had to abandon the run, he performed admirably and gave his team a chance to win. If the Dolphins punt properly and Jason Allen stops acting like he's the only player playing on ice, Dolphins probably win.

Against the Pats, he made errors that cost his team points - granted. However, Henning's plan was bizarre because the Dolphins were running the ball very well wtih RW. IN the second half, as one poster eloquently put it, "the ST had a miscarriage all over the field" putting the Dolphins behind by a large total. henne's 2nd half INT was Marshall's fault, nto his - so he showed that he could play even when the team was behind. he threw for over 300 yards. He was not the reason they lost.

h L
57°F | 41°F

Glad to have Crowder back. He should help in the running defense once he gets up to speed. His absence shows and has shown evertime he has been out.

Mark in Toronto said:"Sparano keep falling in love with journeymen players for some reason.

The reason is very simple, he is not a NFL coach, he is a protege of Bill Parcells, and he acting ( Coaching )as an Apprentice. The team is not responding to him and beside that,
is not well prepare for play football .

Solution is very simple, Jon Gruden.

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