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About the good defense and frustrating offense

CINCINNATI -- The calendar has flipped to November. Awesome! This means the weather is getting colder and the NFL is getting hotter.

And because we have reached to point in the season when we start to look at the potential playoff contenders, because this is the time of year teams begin to separate relevant from not, this is also the time of year standards have to rise if one's team is going to be part of the relevant contender crowd.

The Dolphins believe themselves to be in the contender crowd. So I am holding them to a higher standard now because I want them to make the playoffs and be relevant.

And that is why I wrote what could be described as a column with a critical view following Sunday's victory over the Bengals.

I didn't celebrate the wonderfulness of a fourth road victory in four outings because, frankly, with the exception of the Green Bay game, I don't think that record has a lot to do with being exceedingly great on the road. I believe the Dolphins have an 0-3 record at home because they've played their three toughest games -- New York, New England, Pittsburgh -- at home. I believe they have 4-0 record on the road because, other than Green Bay, the teams Miami has beaten are terrible -- wherever they find themselves playing.

Buffalo, Minnesota and Cincinnati are terrible. They have a combined record of 4-17. They are what their record says they are, as Bill Parcells once famously said.

So I dismiss the road warrior myth. If the Dolphins can go on the roard and win 2 of 3 against Baltimore, New York and New England, I will be the first applauding their prowess on the road. Until then ... we should take those victories, with the exception of the outstanding Green Bay win, with a grain of salt.

I am not too comfortable being critical of a team after a victory. It's a victory!

But as I write in the column, a victory over a collapsing Cincinnati team isn't the goal this year. The playoffs are the goal this year. And the production the Dolphins are getting from their offense this year is troubling. One of the most troubling aspects of that not-good-enough production is this team cannot find Brandon Marshall in the end zone.

Marshall has caught one touchdown pass this year. One.

The excuse, er, reason the Dolphins give for not getting him the ball enough in the end zone is that teams are bracketing him with double coverage. Whatever. I asked Marshall if this is any different than what happened in the past. Read the column to see his answer, please.

The last three years Marshall has scored 23 touchdowns. That's an average of nearly 8 TDs per year. He has one now. Something has to get corrected to increase that number. Something has to get corrected so that Miami's best offensive weapon is getting the ball when the Dolphins are in the red zone.

Now, I must tell you some members of the Dolphins knew where I was going with today's column before I wrote it. And one astute member of the organization asked that I at least balance it with the fact the defense is playing very well. My balance was probably not good enough. I mentioned that Miami's defense is playoff caliber. Anyone disagree with that?

But let me add some more here: Mike Nolan's unit spent all of last week practicing against the no-huddle because the Bengals showed it against Baltimore the week before. Practices actually ended early last week because of that work against the no-huddle, which is kind of a hurry-up attack. Well, the Bengals came out with the no-huddle and shredded Miami on the first drive.

Then Nolan adjusted. He benched Jason Allen. He didn't have Allen share time with Sean Smith as was the plan. He put Allen's hind quarters on the bench and let him go play special teams while he searched for a more effective player on that day.

Don't you wish the offensive approach was similar? How many times has Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams been the hot running back, but offensive coaches stubbornly stick with their platoon plan and give an almost equal share of carries to the tepid as well as hot runner?

Nolan and his coaches basically discarded the plan to share snaps between Allen and Smith and went with Smith. It paid off as Smith had good coverage much of the day and even turned in his first career interception.

The Miami defense blitzed, which is why Benny Sapp was in the backfield so much. The defense mixed man and zone and matched up Vontae Davis against Chad Ochocinco. Davis basically erased Mr. 85 from the game.

"We knew one thing Carson [Palmer] does is read the fakes," said safety Yeremiah Bell. "Me and Chris [Clemons] tried to mix it up. In the first drive, [Palmer] was being patient and waited a little bit. He was trying to make us show our hand. But after that first drive, we started hanging in there and started getting him into some things we wanted to get him into."

Did the defense have moments of struggle? Sure, the Bengals running game had plays when it got wide of the edge and also did good work on cutback runs. But the cutbacks were basically eliminated in the second half.

Oh, that's called an adjustment. Good work gentlemen.

 

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Nice Win

Dolphins getting better every week

Congrats to Mike Nolan

We all wish we had more TD's. Its nice to have an automatic kicker like we do, but we need more TD's, no doubt about it.

And they need to get the ball to Marshall more, espcially in the redzone. The scheme and play calling need to be much better to get him free. Also, Marshall needs to put more effort in, I've seen several plays where he just kinda dogged it down in the redzone and let a not so great defender blanket him.

However, having said that, if Henne was throwing into double and triple coverage just to force the ball to Brandon Marshall, you and everyone in the Miami media would be (rightly) killing him in your reviews, especially on INT plays.

CarltheChamp says,

I love this team, if they would let me call the plys you would see some serious fireworks and BMarshall would already have 8 touchdowns.

Am very proud of SSmith, finally looked like the legend he called himself while he was in college, and Vontae looks like the best corner in the league, other than that dropped INT, he should have had that one, but its all good, good win boys, get Baltimore please

Our offense is not anywhere close to playoff caliber. Its waaay to conservative in the red zone. We won't go anywhere this year with the way henning and sparano are calling the offense. It worst than wanny day. 3rd and 6 on the cinci 25 yard line and they run ronnie for 2 yards? are you kidding me? We won inspite of our pathetic offensive play calling.

LOL Bobby, Got a friend that's a Oakland fanatic, He's saying there gonna be making a lot of noise , Remember, besides New England(Always constant),Look who has the best record in the NFC, Tampa Bay, it's a bazzarro world...

The lack of production by the offense is really troubling.Is it the play calling?Lack of execution?Or a lack of playmakers?This has to improve if we want to have a legit shot at the playoffs.10 fgs in two weeks doesn't cut it!Wake up offense.

Too bad we are not in the NFC, we are going to be screwed come tiebreaker time. Those three losses at home were huge. rest of schedule too tough, we have no running game. Maybe next year. Oh fire Henning.

You say the offense needs work. We say everything is fine and dandy and continue to wave our pom-poms!

Omar and Mike love FGs! FGs make us excited! Yea.

Don't rain on our fantasy Mr. Salguero. You do that enough with you friggan news stories.

our problem is morono and henning.

A record of 4-3 at this point given their schedule is a good one. Maybe they didn't get the wins I expected them to but whatever. The next game is one that can make a major difference in the season. Nobody expects the Dolphins to win this one but if they do - it provides them with a nice buffer going into the 2nd half.

With our defense playing the way they are, we have a chance - have to slow down Rice and McGahee and we will be right in it. Baltimore is also not great against the run - we should do something there.

I like the direction of the team and where we are headed. I know its too early to look at the draft but this offense needs playmakers. I would like to see a speed receiver and a running back. We have no speed what so ever. I also think its time to bring in another O.C. With that said being conserative right now is the way to go. I want us to score more points but I dont want Henny throwing into double coverage either.

HEY WE ARE 4-3, NEXT WEEK (ROAD GAME) @ BAL. WE WIN THIS GAME WE ARE 5-3. I STATED WE ARE ONLY GOING TO BE A 8-8 TEAM THIS YEAR. WE WIN NWXT WE WE COULD END UP 10-6 MAYBE 12-4 OR 11-5, WE ARE PLAYING GOOD TEAM TOUGH (EXECT NE) AND AN EASIER SCHEDULE COMING UP......JUST SAYING I DID NOT THINK WE WOULD BE 4-3 AT THIS POINT. GOOOOO PHINS AND HOW ABOUT THOSE SUPER BOWL BOUND JETS HAHAHAHAHA NO POINTS WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!

Good column, I felt like we opened up a little more with Henne the past 2 weeks so i see improvement there. Im still amazed at the timimg of sime Hennimg calls though. Of course FGs have to turn into TDs. As far as Marshall goes, you cant have him be only receiver going out inside the 20 and expect production. Some 4 wide sets need to be run down there. Yes, defense is impressive but playoff caliber Armando? When are DBs learn how to hold interceptions we can talk playoff caliber. Not till then.

What I see is an offense that tries too hard to manage the game. They spend too much energy trying to be methodical and clock consuming. Then when the field gets short they just run out of space..Contrast the touchdown drive yesterday... The offence attacked. They were agressive not passive. It was obvious that the reigns were off. The end around opened things up. Ricky got to run down hill because the defense was expecting a pass.
Hopefully this is a sign of whats to come in the second half of the season. Great teams attack and make the opposition adjust. The Dolphins can be great.

I agree 2,000% with the other posts. The offensive play-calling is way too conservative, especially in the red zone. Spurano needs to make their whole week of practice inside the red zone. Do something creative that other teams haven't seen Dolphins do in a long time. And make sure there are no more of these wasted plays where Henne throws the ball into the stands for no apparent reason. Also, make the defense tighten up on third down. It seems like they almost feel sorry for the other team sometimes on third down, letting them complete a big pass play on third and 9. And if Ricky is averaging more yards than Ronnie, well, by all means then, put RICKY in the game!! Let Ronnie spell Rickie a little, see how he does; but put the hot hand on the table! Come on, coaches, just listen to some of this good advice from the fans. Some of the most succesful businesses are sucessful because they 1: study the competition, copying it when advantagous; and 2: listen to their customers' feedback. We as fans are not generally as football-smart as the coaches, but do have good ideas sometimes!

Perfect example of going for the throat was NO last night. NO prevent bullshyt defense, all out blitzing and attack. Then instead of their offense running and trying to kill the clock for a FG and give Pitt the ball back for maybe a winning TD drive, they went for the kill and got the TD. Thats agressive, winning, playoff caliber football last night. Thats what we need to strive for.

Good article and blog. If Marshall is always double teamed at least one WR is in single coverage. It's sheer numbers. If no one on the team can beat man coverage it's time to find someone not on the team who can.

I think if we win in Baltimore, we are in this thing. Given the fact that almost every team we faced so far was a playoff team last year, at the beginning of the season I was praying we would be 5-3 at the half way point, and we still have a shot.

Bobby, I agree with Mando on the defensivve assessment. Going into the week they ranked 10th in the NFL despite playing some juggernauts. Cincy is also a top tier passing attack (8th going into this week) and they were limited to 156 yards. That's awesome. And they stole Cincinnati's spirit yesterday - mainly with superior secondary coverage because the pass rush wasn't as good as it has been. Credit to Nolan too. He found ways to try to get pressure even when the OLBs were having a below par day for them.

The Bengals had a good first drive - got an absolute gift/fluke on their 2nd - then that was it - store closed!

Jeremy in Cowtown, good to see u back.

Any1 help me to understand why the Fist Pumper gives everyone the day off today when there are still continuing problems? And, before the Ravens? Like Sparano's not worried about his and Henning's jobs?

Dolphins are going to win 4 of the next 5. You really can't take anybody for granted in the NFL--which is why Mando doesn't bet on football--and I'm not willing to predict which 4, but 4 it is.

Henning, however, will still suck.. Any thoughts on a replacement?

Bobby, I was thinking the exact same thing watching the night game yesterday. NO didn't fuks around. Decided to end the game on offense - because that's what they do best. It was greatness. Then again, NO has 2 of the best on both sides of the ball coaching them.

The only other guy I know of that has the same mentality to win on offense is Belicheck. No co-incidence that both Payton and Beliecheck are champions.

Belicheck also has to be considered coach of the year right now. he doesn;t have much on that team other than Brady and they are 6-1. Man, why did he have to end up in the AFC east???

Shottenheimer, Norv Turner, McDaniels.

Hope Head Bowling Team cheerleader Sparano made Henning stay in school today and catch up on his homework.

New bowling shirts awarded to Carpenter and Sean Smith. (Sparano's got plenty--in his caftan drawer).

Mark in Toronto, I didnt want to come across as sounding negative about D. I just think if your gonba call urself a playoff elite caliber defense you gotra make those interceptions. Way to many DBs have dropped balls that hit them in their hands. And a real easy pick turned into a gift TD yesterday. My only point of contention with the big D!!! Go Phins!!!

I have to say this.....NOBODY LOVED THE REVERSE CALLS WHEN THEY WENT FOR 2 YARD GAINS OR A LOSS.

Everyone said WE didn't have a player on out team that could get the edge so we should NEVER run it.

So please stop calling it a god play BECAUSe it worked....If it hadn't you would be calling Henning and old corpse who the game passed by....If you were watching the game they showed Sporano before the reverse was run...he looked pissed and was mouthing something in his mike.

It just so happened that the play worked...this time.
We have ran a reverse in like 4 straight games....I liked it the 1st time it was called (4 weeks ago)and we lost yardage...I haven't liked it since....

Sparano's job isn't in danger, for Pete's sake. The Dolphins are going to the playoffs this year and SB the next. Nobody's thought of the Dolphins as a tough, physical team since the 70's. Well, ask the Steelers. Or ask Baltimore after next week. We might be the toughest team in the NFL. Much of that is due to Sparano. Henning, however, will not be part of the SB party next year.

bobbyd12
Well and fairly stated.

your on the scent Armando. nice column!

right now i do believe rickey williwams is running better then ronnie brown and should get more carries as the game goes on rickey gets better as ronnie gets worse. henning needs to improveplay calling two wildcat formation when you are trying to run out the clock that net like no yards is not smart if the team believes in henne then they should let henne throw tell him to take more chances down field yes some will be pick off but the big plays are there to be had

kris
Come on, man. Your observations are usually incisive and right on. The team and some of its members' performances are probably in spite of Sparano, which doesn't help to innoculate his job security.

He's a college line coach in a Peter Principle poster. lol

But, Sparano's got a helluva oversize bowling shirt collection, the next shipment of which from Communist China bobbyd12 will probably confiscate at the airport.

Armando,

What happened to this blog? The quality of your posts has gone downhill. This used to be the first Dolphins blog I checked every morning, now it’s the last. Almost every other blog reports the information first. Every time I read your blog I see grammatical and spelling errors. It’s called spell check. Are you a professional (paid) writer? It seems to be all about your ego, not the fins. Personally, I could care less how many people visit your site or listen to your radio show. Sadly, I would rather listen to tutee fruity Jeff Darlington.

It’s funny because you keep pointing out all of the Dolphins mishaps and mistakes but what about your own? Like your sad attempt to write a grammatically correct article. I don’t think you have written a mistake free post in months. When will you hold yourself to the same high standards you place upon the Dolphins? Seriously…when?

Thanks

Fair enough bobby. I just think the Dolphins are a playoff contender type team with a bright future and I hate when people are negative on the team. That being said, you are a great fan and are as supportive as they come. The team needs support. Must be awful playing in your own stadium and hearing half the crowd cheer when the other team scores. This should be Ross' main objective in fixing the team - not getting douchebag celerity owners.

P.S. Henne is ocming along nicely. That one throw he made to Fasano over the top of one defender and underneath the other to the sidelines was as money as it gets.

I don't watch film, and am not even half as football savy as some of the posters on the blog, but a few times yesterday I saw several Miami receivers bunched together, seeminly making it easy for the Bengals to swarm them. Never more clear was it than when Henne threw into two guys that were each double covered and standing 10 yards apart. there were 4 Bengals right there... and of course, one came down with the ball.

Is it worse than just poor play calling? Are we also suffering from poor play design?

Props to whatever has helped the ST kick and punt coverage improve. Guys are staying in their lanes better, and they're less whiffs and arm tackles.

Mando, do u think it's mainly the change to the young ST Coach, Rizzi, or some of the ST plalyer changes?

Armando, by constantly being in Marshal's ear about not getting the ball enough, you are creating angst that doesn't need to be there. How about being on the team's side instead of trying to create a controversy.

Thats right, just like all those fake Lacoste Shirts from Peru. They pay $3.00 for a $65.00 shirt and then try to tell me they have no clue they fake. US Trademark Violation, Confiscated have a nice day

I didn't get to watch the game yesterday,but I was keeping track of it on ESPN Gamecenter.Toward the end of the game,I noticed the Bengals had a 4th and 22,and 30 seconds later it showed the Dolphins had the ball but the next thing I know,Cinci has it back.What happened?

In defense of Armando, a few typos and letter reversals are not much compared to the awful gibberish, grammar and syntax by some posters on the Herald and SS blogs.

To be fair, Dolphin Disciple, what about the difficulty of trying to decipher what HC Sparano says in his interviews? What about trying to read the verbatim transcripts? Bet it makes almost everyone's head hurt. lol

Was at the game this past weekend.... the thing that has me shaking my head is two times we were 2nd and 1 ( or 2). These are gimmi downs, a chance to take a shot down the field. BUT both time we just ran it up the middle. We get the first down, but we are never taking a shot at making a big play.

bobbyd12

Can u save me some of those $3 confiscated Lacoste knock-offs from Peru if they're nice? I've been paying $79.95 + tax at Macy's.

Size 8 (XL), please.

Dave, was that as bad as passing on 3rd and 1? That's one of three calls that had me screaming at the bar I was watching the game at.

The others were the 3rd and 6 in Concy's end of the field and run Ronnie off tackle and the other was the wildcat on 3rd and 4. This formation with this personnel doesn;t work on anyone anymore. THROW IT OUT!

Ya, Henning might as well tell the team to take a knee as to make those calls to avoid scoring.

The game against Baltimore is must win in my book. Between NE, NYJ, Pit and Balt we have to finish ahead of at least one of them to get a wildcard (and have lost the tie breaker to 3 already). We go on the road and they are coming off a bye. Guess one could say the same for Tennessee the week after also. How come we ended up playing 3 teams coming off bye weeks this year? Schedule makers not on our side. If we were in the NFC it would be Super Bowl talk 24/7.

Mark in T

Yup, yup. And, tell us about calling a time out before the 2 min warning and then running the ball instead of throwing the jump ball to Marshall in the end zone. Or 3rd and long and calling a run up the gut or the WC?

It is time to change OC before it is too late. Change him now. We have the talent but we don't have the right OC.

Armando, is most of the problem due to the fact that they don't have clock management or the two minute drill in bowling?

bobbyd12

Are you checking the back room for my Lacoste shirts? I know u have ur iPhone w/ u and can report the stash.

Today would be a good time, considering it's a Dolpin holiday, to replace the tattered bandages on the OC Mummy.

Me = talking to myself.

Credit another poster:
Henning = dead man walking.

I really don't think you can discount what the Dolphins have done on the road this season.

Do you think Tenn. was saying before they went into SD oh here's a two win team we should win this on the road.

Ok how about "the best team in NFC" Tampa Bay Bucs who last week go to St. Louis where they have along the lines of 3 wins in the past 2 seasons and win by one point. Are they saying we're not who we thought we were because we only beat them by one??

Oh ok maybe then we should talk to GB who just skimmed by the Vikes, one of those bad teams you mentioned, last week by four points in GB. I am sure GB doesn't feel they earned that one either against such a bad opponent.

Still not convinced you say??? Ok then surely any team that has played or going to play the hapless, and still winless, Buffalo Bills should not have to worry. Really, let's ask Baltimore who had to go to OT against them last week to win by a FG. You can also ask a good KC team who had the exact same thing happen this week!!!!! Are either of these two teams thinking we went out and beat a bad team or somewhere more along the lines of we went out and won a game against a tough opponent trying their best to win a football game??

Point I'm trying to make is everyone insists on taking away from this team, the Dolphins, whether they win or lose. Are their improvements to be made, sure, but do we have to berate them week in and week out? They are out there playing their a55 off every week and you wouldn't know it from reading the media but they are getting better especially Henne.

Instead of giving credit to the other teams and what they may or may not have done how about giving credit where it is due!

Go Dolphins!!

Armando, henne is the quarterback that is throwing the passes to the wide receivers and tight ends. when you see dropped passes, watch the angle of the ball that the receivers are dealing with. henne throws line drives passes that dont have alot of air on them. when you get near the goal line, line drive passes get tipped, picked off, and occasionally get caught for a touchdown. the angle of the ball and the speed comming to the receivers is the difference between being caught and being dropped. PENNINGTON THROWS A BETTER CATCHABLE BALL THAN HENNE. THE RECEIVERS CAN MAKE MORE PLAYS NEAR THE GOAL LINE BECAUSE OF PENNINGTONS TIMING AND PROJECTORY OF THE BALL.

THE DOLPHINS KEEP WONDERING WHY THEY CANT SCORE TOUCHDOWNS? THE ANGLE OF THE BALL COMMING IN TO THE RECEIVERS! I CANT BELIEVE THE DOLPHINS ARE A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM AND WONT SIT HENNE FOR A FEW SERIES IN A GAME.

IF YOU NEED BRAIN SURGERY, WOULD YOU GO TO A DOCTOR THAT HAS POTENTIAL TO BE A GREAT DOCTOR AND OUT OF MED SCHOOL A FEW YEARS BUT IS INCONSISTANT, OR WOULD YOU GO TO AN EXPERIENCED DOCTOR THAT HAS DONE MANY OF THE SAME OPERATONS AND CAN SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THE OPERATION BECAUSE HIS PAST HISTORY SHOWS THAT.

Dear Mr. Salguero

Just a couple of questions

Did you take a leak in Dolphin Disciple's cornflakes ?

Is Dan Henning under the gun from either Sparano or Ireland ?

Is Sparano under the gun from Ireland ?

Does Coach Nolan stick his tongue out at Coach Henning and say I'm the fan favorite ?

Help me understand these questions and more.

More questions ?

Questions like this

Will Dan Henning's supperior brain power vs the collective fans inferior brain power be his downfall ?

I just gotta know

Soiled :)

If we beat the Ravens Sunday, watch out!

Well said, finfaned! Go Dolphins!!

One thing nobody can question about this team is the heart. They will fight and kick you unitl the end. Even thoguh they lost 3 games, they haven't been overpowered by ANYONE! The one bad loss they had was because of bad special teams play. This is a team every fan should be proud of - if only the OC could get his screwed on right.

Ricky, WTF? Did you not notice that in 2008 Pennington didn;t have the arm strength to get the ball to the perimeter receivers. That was 2 years and one major surgery ago. The only thing Pennington might be able to throw than Henne is the seam pass ot the TE but what good would that do with the Dolphins because their best players on offense play on the outside?

the reason the offense is so dismal is the offensive coordinator. DAN HENNING NEEDS TO GO AND HE NEEDS TO GO NOW!!!

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