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.)
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."