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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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Odinseye, is currently useing the restroom. what a perfect time to get HACKED! by the STEP-Daughter ;) goodbye football fans.


heading off further damage... chad henne can be great but, besides his stare downs there is something else i noticed, and if i notice it you know darn well so will bellicheat and he will exploit it. as soon as henne gets flushed out of the pocket, or panics, he ALWAYS throws to the short safety-valve checkdown, teams are going to feast on this if not corrected! he never goes deep as big ben did when we had him in the hole at 3rd and 20. if henne corrects this flaw and maybe checks UP instead of DOWN, miami will enjoy what so many teams do so well, just when you think you have a rothilsberger or a manning on a third and very long, they make that drive sustaining big play. HENNE, it's time to take it to the next level and attack these situations by anticipating them, they are going to occur many times throughout the game! anticipate these corners to eyeball your eyes so you can manipulate them, wait for a moment like hurring to the line with seconds on the clock but be prepared for it with a predetermined play for that situation to exploit a confused defense. BE PREPARED and work on these componants because they ARE the major flaws of your game! the only other area where you need to improve upon is your confidence and speed of decision making, these two items go hand in hand, somehow your reads must be faster, you must spend more time with your recievers to get that level of trust.

If Henning is so innovative
Why not line up 6.4 230 lb Brandon Marshall as TE on occasion

Think of Greg Olsen as WR type TE

confuse the D

Beer #3 on that innovative post

We need a OC period . Thanks for a wildcat that has been caged. But we need to force feed the beast B.Masrh. And impose our will on other team. I`m the biggest fan in S.C. and when WE lose everyone looks for me

I agree, the second turnover and 3 runs by ricky at the same point of attack. I seriously about threw the remote into the TV at that. What a joke. 71 year old has been running an NFL offense. BIGGER JOKE.

wonder what it would look like if everyone posted HENNING MUST GO for a day.


Great article and long overdue on calling out Mr. Henning and his old school playbook, which has to be collector's antic, but Chad Henne determines where the ball is thrown and getting tds on the board, running the two minute drill and making this offensive productive and from my point of view Henne is failing miserably! Henne is so inconsistent that the playcalling reveals the lack of trust in Henne's game, so they run when expected to pass! The qb is the key and can make the OC look great or look incompetent!

Great observation Armando.I did notice yesterday that when we were driving down the field with about 8 minutes to go,it seemed like the coaching staff was content on setting themselves up for the FG,instead of putting them in a position for a TD.I could see if there were 2-3 minutes left,but not with 8 to go.
We need to start taking chances on offense.The good teams do that,and so should we.




I have never seen anyone more excited about a field goal in my life...AND THAT INCLUDES KICKERS

I'm also getting a little sick up and fed with the Negative Nancys,trying to blame the loss on Henne.
The Steelers are a good team,I'm not gonna deny that,but we went toe to toe with these guys and made a battle out of it.

When they win, it's a team and coaching effort, when they lose, it's still a team and coaching effort.

I'd rather see Sparano get a little over excited about FG's than act like nothing happened.I could be wrong,but I bet just about everyone of you would have done the Sporano Fist Pump if the Dolphins kicked a game winner with no time on the clock.I know I did when Carpenter won it in Green Bay the week before.

Just read Sparanos q&a and a couple of things jump out. The first is the 3rd and 7 play was Misis mistake, not Clemons. Clemons had to cover the mistake after the fact. So the rookie made a rookie mistake and blitzed when he was supposed to be covering. That's a mental error on him.
The second thing is Dan Hennings insistence that his playbook is all knowing and that it's the players fault for not executing. And this became plainly obvious while listening to Sparano today and all season for that matter. Henning sees the players as equals. He sets his playbook up as if all of the players on the team have equal talent and can all be counted on at any given time to make a big play. He does not understand that the phins pay big money to certain players because they're just BETTER PLAYERS. And that he shoud rely on those go to players in go to situations.

His theory is that "well everyone knows we want to go to them so we try to trick the other team". I don't care who knows what Dan, you go to your playmakers in crunch time. If it doesn't work the first time you go back to them, again and again. Brandon and Chad miss on a back shoulder throw in the endzone? Then you try it again on the other side. Or you run a slant to Marshall who is bigger than almost every db out there!! Does anyone know why the Dolphins barely ever use a slant throw when every team in the league uses it? Cant figure it out. Top 3 wr in the league and top 3 slot guy in the league with a young qb and you don't use slants that put the wr's right in straight eye shot of the qb?!

Pennington is only slightly better than Bernie Kosar at this point in his career

Don't thank Henning for the wildcat, that was David Lees baby. Henning is absolutely useless unless you have Pennington dinking and dunking and a strong running game. It's the old school football mentality that doesn't work in todays game. Henne has one of the strongest arms in the game and they don't even run a 4 wide package. Just pathetic.


Talk about ignorant, you want a franchise QB that can't read defenses, doesn't know where his receivers are on the field, waits until they appear open before he will throw the ball, has no anticipation, rarely throws the ball with any touch, does not lead or inspire anyone, takes 5 to 8 seconds to figure out where to throw the ball and seems to choke at crunch time when you need 3 points? Man, you have low standards! I'll bet you were a Ryan Leaf fan too.

Right on 2112...we have the weapons,now use them.

I caught a clip of Sparano. He looks shell shocked explaining what was said to him by the officials. Sparano sounds weak. I want a head coach who is pissed.

Sparano ought to be saying 'I'm furious. This was a hard fought game and to have it taken from us because a ref missed a call is inexcusable.'

The team fought there hearts out and almost overcame the pathetic play calling. Dansby was right, they pushed the Steelers around Sunday. A little courage in play calling and a little belief in Henne from Henning and the Dolphins could have blown this game out.

Henning did not have the courage to pass on 1st down and dictate to the Steelers. Force them to adjust then run the ball. It was starting to work. Henne competed 11 in a row mid game and Henning went right back to the drive killing runs on 1st down.

Hind sight is 20-20, but this team could really have benefited from a Pete Carrol. Carrol would have a more aggressive approach.

I live in the NW and now that the walrus is gone, Seattle stretches the field.
I wanted good things from this staff but this approach will not beat good teams.

A-Francis had the ball at the end of the Clemons forced fumble
So if the Ref did not know who had the ball
Just look at the big dude with the white jersey and Dolphin emblem running away with the ball

... The FBI would call that a clue

Tell me brain stem
What was Henne`s QB and completion% yesterday?

Home will hang up and wait for your answer

We have a 50million dollar receiver, we have a QB that can launch the ball 50 yards...

I can only recall 2 or 3 go routes that we've even ATTEMPTED all season...

This was one of the many comments by Sparano that should irk all of us: "I think we're trying to get the ball down the field. We're trying to take shots at times. Yesterday this team played a ton of two deep which doesn't really allow you to, they weren't going to let Brandon (Marshall) get the ball down the field in this situation." So coach, you let the defense dictate to your offense? Really?!?!? That about sums it up. And I'm tired of him saying our guys played hard...they did...but let's not forget these are professionals that are WELL-PAID to play hard and win. This is not High School or College. There are no MORAL victories in the NFL. I'm about done! I've been a Dolphins Fan since 1976! Maybe no more.

Hey @Home drinking brews SCOREBOARD. Don't be an idiot and quote stats...who gives a flying fluck about stats. It's W's!!! THAT'S IT!!!


Henne threw for 257 yards and a TD to Simply The Bess


Tommy Boy
U R slow on the stats

What did the old has been noodle arm Pennington throw in his last play off game, was it 4 Ints or 3 Ints and a loss?

Next time U come to battle Wits with me, Please
Do Not Come Unarmed!


I'm sick and tired of hearing that Henne is a young QB. Give him time to develop. Tell that to Joe Flacco! Or Ryan Leaf. Or Mark Sanchez! What is he a baby? He's a grown man making upwards of $600,000 per year! He has no fire! He does not motivate his team. He seems like an idiot, pure and simple. I agree with an earlier post...Ryan Leaf had all of the specs to be a great QB but didn't have it between the ears...Pennington does. I bet that with Pennington at QB we would've beaten the Jets and the Steelers!!!


Tommy S.,,,,,hmmmmmmmm, listen to Dan Marino, Jon Gruden, Steve Young, Ron Jaworski, and countless other former players about how Henne will have a great career and needs more than one and a half seasons to be judged or listen to a dude named Tommy S. who has already declared him a bust. Boy this is a head scratcher.

Dan Henning is right when he emphasizes that execution is key. However, when the play called is bested by the opposing teams call, much like chess, you have to adjust. THAT is incumbent on the playcaller. THAT is Henning's fault. It also seems as though Henning is so arrogant as to not allow Henne to audible. CALL AN AUDIBLE WHEN THE PLAY SELECTED IS CLEARLY GARBAGE.


I've always defended Henning in previous seasons but after watching every Fins game this season,it's time he went. The guy has absolutely no idea what he's doing half the time.

When i look at this Dolphins offense,i see great potential but unfortunately,with Henning as the OC,we'll always be a play safe team who never goes for the jugular.

Was'nt it Henning who said only afew weeks ago that he hates choosing throwing plays and wishes that EVERY play involves running the football?? If thats the case,can someone please tell me why we're paying an elite WR $10 a year?

As long as we play not to lose,we'll never progress and become a legitimate Superbowl contender

Such a shame...


We have a 50million dollar receiver, we have a QB that can launch the ball 50 yards...

I agree. In a interview awhile back Henne said that they would have more plays for Marshall If he would stay late and work on it. And then he laughed and said that he is not willing to do that. That is Hennings fault. He should find a way to get those two to stay late and work on some plays.




@Home drinking brews You've had one too many. You are an idiot. Who cares about stats? OMG, Tom Brady had like 150 passing yards vs. Miami on Monday night and won the game! Chad Henne had over 300 yards and lost the game. Stats are for Fantasy Football Players not for NFL teams trying to get to the Super Bowl. According to you then, Chad Henne is better than Tom Brady because he had better STATS. It's Wins! Oh, and that minor detail of getting your team in the END ZONE. In case you haven't checked, the dolphins have scored 9 touchdowns ALL YEAR. The Raiders had 8 touchdowns in ONE GAME vs. the Broncos!!!



Oregon which coaches in todays NFL openly judge and criticize the officiating in games? Give us some examples. If he were to complain it would only; A. force the NFL to fine him. B. Cause people around the NFL to call him a whiner and accuse him of making excuses, and C. Cause the refereeing crews to possibly hold a grudge and screw us down the road.

So I disagree. I want a coach whgo is smart enough to hold his tongue when flapping it would only cause himself and his team more problems. Tony came out and didn't make excuses. He said there was no excuse for losing and that if they had executed better in the red zone they would have won. He took the blame on himself and the team and didn't blame anyone else. If you can't respect that then there's something wrong.

@phins2112 What matters is production on the field and how he leads his team to TD's and Victories. That's all that matters. The analysts LOVED David Carr, Alex Smith, JaMarcus Russel, Ryan Leaf, etc. People can be busts in the NFL. It's not unheard of. Tell me, how is Chad Henne an improvement over Jay Fielder? I'm serious...how?


Henne did not lose the game

Blame the payed off ref that .......
............wait for it
...............................could not figure out who recovered the fumble

or Dan Henning
or even Ronnie Brown and his average of just over 1 yard a carry on 9 rushes
or even Vernon on the O-line

but Henne with 0 Ints & 0 fumbles against the Steelers and Troy P. @ safety

That`s It
U confused Henne haters
Home is not taking U drinking any more

Dan Henning is right when he emphasizes that execution is key. However, when the play called is bested by the opposing team's call, much like chess, you have to adjust. THAT is incumbent on the playcaller. THAT is Henning's fault. It also seems as though Henning is so arrogant as to not allow Henne to audible. CALL AN AUDIBLE WHEN THE PLAY SELECTED IS CLEARLY GARBAGE.


ohfinfan, the three qbs you just mentioned have almost the same exact stats as Henne. They all are better than eachother in different areas (Henne on third downs is second in the league). So try again bud.

"He seems like an idiot". By your post, so do you.

That no execution excuse is a load of bullcrap. Thats Henning throwing his team under the bus. His play-calling is garbage. Send him back to the wets. And pay Gruden or Mariucci to call some real plays. It's not too late. HENNING MUST GO!!!!!

Anyone remember Gary Stevens? The infamous quote, "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shyte." Well, that's what Miami is trying to do with a moron at QB. He looks like a death row inmate with that idiotic haircut.


That is the problem with all the stat guys. I don't care if my QB has a rating of 1 if we win. There is only one stat that matters and that is W's and L's. There are no moral victories. I want a QB at crunch time that will give us a chance. You remember a couple years ago when the Phins were in 25 below weather at Kansas City and had to have a score in the final minutes to win? Pennington got them there and he didn't have nearly as much to work with as what the Phins have now.

That is what I want to see. Let me ask you this, if Big ben had gotten the ball back with 2 and a half minutes needing a field goal to win, do you think he would have done it? I would have been amazed if he didn't. If a guy knows how to win, he wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line and 9 times out of 10 he will get you there. Henne does not have that quality.

OhFinFan13 | October 25, 2010 at 05:05 PM

Can I just call u ..Shiet for Brains lol

Tom Brady did not win the game with 150 YDs passing
Our Special Teams LOST the games

U see our Special Teams gave up 21 points
and set NFL record lows

The Dolphins STs coach was fired Monday morning

U Get That, Huh?

Freaking Moron!
Now Go Get Your Shine Box!

I'm with you phinsfan78, he loves throwing the players under the bus. Bottom line, HENNING MUST GO

ohfinfan,,YOU'RE AN IDIOT. Brady "won the game" and "Henne lost the game". Are you a simpleton or what? Did Brady and Henne play in a one on one game against eachother? So no one else has a hand in wins and losses except for the quarterbacks? You obviously never played football so please spare us all of your inane rants.

phins2112 What QB's did I mention besides Brady, Russell, Smith, Leaf, etc. Brady is a great QB because he is a great leader and has 'it'. Even as a 6th round draft pick. Drew Brees seems to have 'it' as well. It's not just about the stats and what not. It's about his whole game...his game just seems off. He plays scared. He seems to have no fire. Pennington has fire and has 'it.' If Henne had Pennington's brain he'd be a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning! Henne is an overpaid idiot.

Yeah TommyS
Can I just call u, Dipshiet

Ben would have fumbled the ball
Just like last night with 3 minutes left
U simple stupid Jack@ss

Who cares what Pennington, Marino or Bob Grease did
Their career is OVER
What part of that dont u understand!

Now Get Your Shin Box and stand behind shoe shie boy OhFinFan13

OHFINFAN ,,,,,go farm some where mr and try to milk the goats real good.

Tommy S Henne is dictated to by a tyrant of an OC and Ben is allowed to call a lot of his own shots and audibles. Pitt has great tight ends Miami has crap. Pitts o-line has multiple pro bowlers Miami has one. Pitt has a deep threat speed guy, a posession receiver, and a number one, Miami has no speed guy. Pitt has a compitent OC calling plays and using his best players, Miami,,,,,HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Pitt won a superbowl a few years back,,,Miami was 1-15. So please don't make comparisons unless you're going to go all of the way.


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