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Dolphins offensive plays calls were curious -- again

Enough of the fumble controversy (for now) because the call will not be overturned or somehow repaired. The Miami Dolphins' 23-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers cannot be erased so no need to continue reliving it.

But what seemingly we continually relive with these Dolphins is the curious if not outright inexplicable play-calling on offense that leaves fans in a frenzy and state of frustration.

Sorry, Dr. Dan Henning, oh sherpa of all things NFL offense. But count me among the folks left scratching their heads following Sunday's game.

I don't understand the strategy on the first two possessions, both inside the Pittsburgh 22-yard line. I didn't understand the strategy of starting a potential game-winning drive in the final two minutes of the game with a running play -- against the NFL's No. 1 rush defense.

Let's take the first two series first. The Dolphins kicked off and got a gift possession when the Steelers fumbled the kickoff and Reshad Jones recovered, giving Miami a first down on the Pittsburgh 22 yard line. Most offensive coordinators today view this as an opportunity to go for the opponent's throat. The Steelers were on the field in an emergency situation and so what do the Dolphins do?

They run an off-tackle play to the right side with Ronnie Brown carrying the ball. It gained 2 yards. Two yards! The Dolphins have the Steelers in a tough spot, in a momentum-capturing moment and they run a routine off-tackle play against the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL.

The next two plays were Chad Henne incompletions. I get the concept of throwing then. No problem. But here's my deal: Neither play went into the end zone. And neither play targetted Brandon Marshall.

The Dolphins, in their wisdom, didn't deem a call for their best receiver as a good option. And the team that has been kicking too many field goals and not scoring enough TDs didn't attack the end zone.

The team still got a field goal and a 3-0 and then got another gift the very next series when Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger fumbled and Koa Misi recovered for Miami at the 13 yard line.

Time to go into the end zone, right? Time to get the ball to Marshall, right?


Henning called a Ricky Williams run to the left. It gained zero.

Then Henning called a Ricky Williams run to the right. It gained 8 yards.

Then on third-and-2 from the 5 yard line, Henning called on Williams again, once again testing the right side of the Pittsburgh defense. No gain. Field goal.

Not good enough, Salguero says.

Then there was the aborted attempt to win the game with the two-minute drive at the end. Let me just say that the execution, which is Henning's pet peeve, was bad. Anthony Fasano dropped a pass on second down. Henne threw to the wrong receiver (Lousaka Polite) on third down and that gained only 2 yards. And the fourth down play was a total breakdown of the protection and the communication between the QB and his receivers.

But ...

Why did that drive open with a running play? The Dolphins had taken a timeout, their final timeout, with 2:30 to play before Pittsburgh kicked the game-winning field goal. The idea at the time was to keep the Steelers from letting the clock run down to two minutes.

But then Miami made that timeout of no effect by opening their drive with a run. Either you need the time and you take the time out and then throw the ball. Or you don't need to save time and you don't need the to take the time out. You cannot have it both ways.

But with 2:19 to play, facing the best run defense in the NFL, using a running back that had gained 12 yards on 10 carries, the Dolphins handed the ball off to Brown. The play gained 2 yards.

I'm not playing the results here. I'm saying the Dolphins needed to throw in the end zone to their best receiver when they're inside the other team's 25 yard line after a turnover every single time they find themselves in that situation. I simply believe it's a good idea to get the ball in your best offensive weapon's hands as a philosophy.

And as for the final drive, if you're going to run the ball on first down, don't waste a time out before that. And if you are going to call the time out, which was the right call, then follow that up with another good call and pass the ball to open your two-minute drive.  

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Bobby, you don't think Jon Kitna has a big comeback left in him, circa 1996?

agree with BobbyD...The boys are done....Wade will be fired soon.

Cow what did i tell u..the imposter left.....

i'm out....



salgero, that is exactly what i have complained about all last night and tonight. i dont know what the answer is, but i feel like i am watching a dave wanstead lead team! coming from a guy that grew up with marino, this lame duck offense for all these years is killing me!!!!!!



Craig M, u see that Giant rush? Kitna is in that lockerroom wondering why the hell he aint up in the announcers booth. If that O-Line is not into game he gonna be in the bed next to Romo.

Trade Hartline and our entire special teams for Dez Bryant

Fire Henning

Demote Sparano to O-Line coach or just Fire him.

Fire Rizzi

Fire Ireland. better yet, send him to Ireland.


Eff it. Fire everyone and bring Chuckie in to sort this mess out. Who cares if he doesn't win. It'll be entertaining watching him go off. Can you imagine what he would have done to that ref on Sunday?

I need some entertainment and the Dolphins aren't providing it. If I want to watch field goal after field goal, I'll... um... well, I guess I'll watch Dolphin football

kris, what wrong with app??? its been great for me, no complaints for awhile

Bobby, Im sure kitna HAS already been i been in bed with RoHomo


I agree with you. I was just pulling kidding to see what you'd say. What will be interesting is to see what happens to Wade of they lose this 'must win' game at home to the Giants. Jones has got to be fuming!

its the spelling...i'm already a bad speller... but when i cant read the whole thing before i post it looks idiotic wirh more spelling errors than usual....why no auto correct on this app... like when u text

Someone needs to come up with a Sparano Fist Pump music video...hey lets jusy get a duet by JLo and Marc Anthony. Sparano must be into fisting videos, whaddaya think

LOL, Jerry Jones look like his head is gonna blow out!! We gonna be first team to be in SuperBowl at home uhhhh NO


I do agree, autocorrect would be great! I too use this app on my iphone and it is hard to type fast on a small keypad without it.

Loco....if thats u.... i don't know the answer... what is it....i will read it in the morning

That i dont know kris, i find the auto correct annoying because it always changes the dirty words to something dumb but its a blog, i wouldnt sweat it

Craig M, Wade Phillips is probaly thinking about cleaning out his office right about now. See that Giant receiver step in between those two DBs?? How embarassing, like i said, they will quit in second half



remember years ago while going to FSU and they were playing the canes, FSU was up 27 to 13 with 10 minutes left,Easy win you think??, I thought FSU might win, but deep down in my heart I knew the canes would win, That's what a TRUE Championship team does... THEY WIN, The phins are a Mile away from that,.. IMHO

Posted by: Cuban Menace | October 25, 2010 at 09:00 PM

Now the cuban mange says he went FSU ??? More lies . First he's a COP in NYC and now this BS ? When will this BS crap ever end ?? OH and Hot ashley is more in his imagination and is nothing but a blowup doll.

Marc, the cuban went to medical school .

the cowboys never won any any games in their new stadium but one game so far this year .

I think at 3-3 we can get better. The Dolphins have to let Henne let it fly. no matter what happens. Henne is going to be there longer than any coach. give him a chance and go to the endzone with Marshall.

Fire Henning and finish the season with Pennington calling plays from the sideline.


We should finish 10-6 and a possible wildcard playoff spot. That what it looks like on paper.

However, we play far too many close games no matter what the level of our competition. That's why even the Raiders will have a legit chance to beat us this year. We dont even put the dinky teams away.

Dolphins duplicates 2009 with a 7-9 record and out of the playoffs.

It's easy to tell the difference between a good play call that just didn't work and a bad play call. Henning has WAY too many bad play calls this year.

Henning was actually good last year. He and Brian Hartline have been the biggest disappointments on the Dolphins this year.


With the duplicate 7-9 2010 record and possible #12 or #13 draft spot. Our primary goal should be to draft the top speedy wr with great hands in the 2011 draft.

2nd rd we need aan extremely quick rb that hits the hole like a chilling wind!

Note To Coach Sparano:

You are the head coach of a professional football team. You are ultimately responsible for the decisions made for the team. Your Special Teams Coordinator had to be fired for not doing his job. Your Offensive Coordinator isn't doing his! You tinkered with an O-line built to run the ball last year. Now, you've got an O-line that can pass protect, but struggles in the run game. Yet, your game plan continues to emphasis the run. You're paying. 50 million to a WR. Maybe you should use him more. Your "no mistake" attitude is stiffling the progress of a young QB and your OC doesn't trust the kid to win the game. Your coaching staff is confused and so are your players. You look like a dumbass on the sideline celebrating Field Goals and you can only. Muster one or two TDs per game. Your job is in jeopardy and your head is too far up in your crack to realize it! Your lack of leadership and football decision making is starting to show! Get your act together or you'll be gone! Sorry!

Note to Chad Henne:

Start calling audibles

i dont believe that the plain and predictable offensive scheme of henning should get him fired because i like our running game which suits our type of backs however.... this is a quarter back league and i dont think that the plain, predictable pass scheme can go without notice and at least some interference from ireland to start creating a more unpredictable and "fancy" pass plays, especially with a more than capable wide receiver corps that execute more than a post route!! so those are my 2 cents

what's interesting is that when Chad passes all day, he's usually outstanding.

@tracy your on the money but picking up an OC in the middle of the season will do us more harm than good but his ass is gone next year

Fire Henning and finish the season with Pennington calling plays from the sideline.

Posted by: JLuck | October 25, 2010 at 11:50 PM

JLUCK, this is the dumbest idea I've heard in awhile!

Let Pennington have a booth-LOL.

Pennington wouldn't be my first pick, but I'd take him over Henning right now. Besides, there's probably nobody else out there that could come in and kwow the offense well enough to make the transition "seamless".

People were mentioning Marino earlier, anyone think he could be an offensive co-ordinator?

@OC might as well bring don shula back while your at it.. no offense but marino executed the plays of his OC so i wouldnt see a relevance in bringing dan in when he didnt create the plays

Iron Man,

Why the sarcasm with the Shula quip?

It was a simple straight forward question. ANYONE THINK MARINO COULD BE AN OFFENSIVE CO-ORDINATOR.

I didn't suggest that we bring in anybody. It's just a question I've had on my mind every since Marino turned down/or quit the Front Office job.

You don't think it's an intriguing question considering Marino's prior experience and abilities? I myself believe he knows about attacking defenses and making adjustments.

It's a long season. We're batting .500. Anything can happen.

In the meantime FIRE Henning and promote Pennington as an Interim.

Henne is getting a raw deal. He was drafted in the second round. When he reported to rookie camp Henning handed him a playbook with 5000 plays in it. Out of the 5000, TWO PLAYS were out of the shotgun formation.

After day 2 of rookie camp Henne was called up to the offices for a "coaches" meeting and was asked by Henning,"So Chad, which do you prefer? Working under center, or out of the shotgun"?

For a young kid being drafted into the organization by a living legend, the question had to sound more like an "offer he couldn't refuse".

It's sad to say, but as long as Henning remains, the best thing long term would be for us to get mathematically eliminated from the playoffs as soon as possible.

This way Sporano would be forced to cut ties with Henning or risk losing his own job. Also and probably more importantly, we could turn Henne loose. Tell him too "relax, have some fun for a change and show us what you got".

Here's the special teams fix and longterm answer:

Get rid of Dan Carpenter. Yes he can kick field goals. However his range really isnt any greater than most average nfl field goal kickers.

But his field goal accuracy isnt the issue, it's his kickoffs. Rarely do they cross the goal line let alone touchbacks. If his kickoffs are lower and shorter than most average kickers it places a tremendous burden on our kickoff defenders.

Get rid of Brandon Fields. Seems at times it takes forever for him to get his kicks off. He doesnt get enough height on his kicks and routinely out kicks his coverage. His kicks are very returnable.

Fix these two areas and we fix at least 75% of our kick coverage woes.

I coundnt have said it better armando. They should have someone running a fly pattern straight down the field on every play and then throwing a 40-50 yard pass. If henne has such a big arm he needs to throw long and throw in the end zone instead of these checkdown dink and dunk passes. What ever happened to the SCREEN PASS? Tell dan henning they are very effective. Also tell dan henning that larry csonka is not currently on the roster and his strategy is losing games and costing ross millions.

For all who think Im crazy about dumping Carpenter in favor of a much stronger legged kicker. What good is it to have a pro bowl kicker on a non playoff team?

Quick fix for the offense to score more td's:

Get a damn speedy wr with hands on the other side of Marshall. I guarantee at least 40% of our field goals turn to td's.

Also someone please teach Chad Henne to throw the damn fade. That alone is why 10-15% of our field goals arent td's.

Ricky whose going to run that pattern for the Dolphins and consistently get open?

Marshall's guy will have deep help, Bess doesnt have straitline speed so he wont be open, and Hartline scares no one with his straight line speed so he wont be open neither.

Call that play all you want but it will most likely result in a short checkdown. Henne will never have enough time to throw waiting on Bess or Hartline to finally come open deep. Neither have deep separating speed.

Marshall isnt exactly what you call a speedster either. Its his physicality and size that are his primary weapons against the defense.

Has anyone checked to see if Usain Bolt can catch a football yet? He only needs to learn one pass pattern. Run deep as fast as you can!

In the 1969-70 the dallas Cowboys signed then fastest human in the world Bob Hayes. Hayes never played a down of competitive football before the signing.

All they told him was run deep as fast as you can and catch the ball. He followed those instructions well enough to become all-pro and an eventual hof'er.

Ireland give Bolt a looksee and put him on the jugs machine for 2-3 hours a day. Its not like he needs to learn pass routes. Like Hayes all he has to do is run deep as fast as he can and catch the damn ball.

Not only will he blow by the corner, he'll blow by the over top safety help too!


I agree Henne needs work on the fade, not to mention many other areas. To get work on the fade, SOMEONE needs to call the fade more than once every other game.

I think Brandon Marshall excels on the deep fade. Well, the deep fade, the medium fade, the short fade.......................

I don't think you're crazy. Carpenter usually is short on kickoffs. I was surprised, he had two touch backs against the thieves. I don't think we'll be getting anyone any better, anytime soon(damn Any's).

Fields is inconsistent at the worst possible moments. He looks like a Pro-Bowler about 65% of the time. Then he shanks one from inside our 15 yard line or gets a net of 28 yards from our own 20. THEN, like yesterday he booms one for 78 yards???? Much like the rest of our offensive, defensive and special teams units, you never know what you're going to get.

It's getting better, but we got a long way to go..................................

If Hene could consistently throw the fade to Marshall we would be nearly unstoppable in the redzone. Even when the defense knows its coming. There isnt a db in the league more physical than Marshall.

It puzzles hell out me that we never see Henne and Marshall on the endzone fade. My best guess is Henne cant throw it or fricken Henning doesnt trust him enough throwing it.

What an amazing weapon not to use when you have a Brandon Marshall. Even Rex Ryan trusts Sanchez to throw it Braylon Edwards. I know because they have used that play for a score against us.

The good news:

Dan Henning has forgotten more football than most will ever know.

The bad news:

Dan Henning has forgotten more football than most will ever know.

im sorry , but now way in hell this team will start to win anything until we get a coach who actually gets pissed at settling for field goals and an offensive coordinator who isnt offensively challenged. Its clear that with parcells all but gone the formula for stragically outwitting your opponents of sixty minutes smash mouth doesnt mean POOH!!!!This team needs an instinct of not the bend but dont break, more like bend them and brake 'em when their down. I dont know if our coaching staff has that in them even in victory.

We must be the laughing stock of the league amongst other OC's. Once we enter the red zone we relegate our best offensive playmaker on the field to DECOY at least 95% of the time.

Just like clockwork once in the redzone we make Marshall nonexistent. 6 games and a wr of Marshall's calibre has 0 td's. WTH did we bring him here for?

With our failure to score td's in the redzone obviously that strategy has been a flipping failure. Whatever happen to feed the stud Mr Henning?

what do you guys expect from a guy who has been calling plays his whole life in this manner. henning is a parcells guy and all i can see when i seen miami run three times after getting a gift turnover on the 13 yd line are those old giant teams. if we wanna update the offense we need a guy who is up with the times and not living in the times of 3 yards and a cloud of dust.

until we remove henning and get a younger brand of thinking to bring henne along, we will be seeing more of dan carpenter as the season goes on


Tell you the truth I dont even think we can beat the Raiders. We even let bad teams hang around then it only takes one boneheaded play by us to give them the victory.

Im sure Mike Nolan is hating this overly conservative style offense for the stremendous strain it consistently places on his defense too.

Our defense never plays with a confortable lead. We're always either slightly behind or slightly ahead. The trend never changes.

DB, dont u know, he's the 47 million dollar decoy we've been waiting for all this time. Yep bess has sure stepped out this year and yet here we are 3-3, at first glance its not that bad to 500, but it is that bad to be 0-3 against teams that will have a say in playing january football. Personally this team has no clue how to beat a team handidly. ***SORRY THE BILLS DONT COUNT***


We were still only one boneheaded play from losing to the Bills. We are always just one boneheaded play from winning or losing no matter the quality of our opponent.

Damn, can we win any game by at least 6pts? We beat the Bills by 5pts and thats our season high.

if im an OC playing miami, id be pretty happy to play a team that has no intention of kicking you while you make mistakes in games, just keep it close for sixty minutes and we as an offense will hand the game to you,,,,,thats probably more frustration talk thats not helpful but god, it seems that these coaches and players need this motivational speeches more than the fans need to spew it.

My deal is either we trust Henne enough to let him play or sit him for Pennington if we dont. Playing him in handcuffs and leg bracelets isnt doing anyone any good, not even Chad Henne.

DB, i know but i think the bills cant win even if we handed them the game, (I.E. see ravens game)but your right this team has no killer instinct and i know i'll probably hear sh#% about this from others but i absolutely regret the success we had in 2008, it really has been downhill from there.

Like other posters I am sick of Sparano with the damn fist pumps after field goals. He's sending sublimenal subconscience messages to our offense that field goal are a premium value.

Sparano needs to stop that sheet right now!

There is no way to share your column in Facebook?????? WTF???? Thank you for making a point right here!
Let's move on, we didn't lost due to the fumble, we lost becasue we didn't scored when it mattered the most, period.

p.s. do something about sharing your column!!!!

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