« Preparation for Lions Wednesday: The highlights | Main | Henning: Dolphins lack speed, changes haven't worked »

Dilfer: Dolphins give selves too little error room

Why has the 2010 season been a disappointment for the Dolphins?

Myriad reasons, really, but ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer has a fundamental reason: The Dolphins have built a team that gives itself too little room for error. And this year, when games are won or lost on one or two plays, the Dolphins have not made those one or two plays.

In other words, as Dilfer says in the video, the Dolphins have allowed themselves very little room for error.


The Cleveland loss? If Nolan Carroll catches that interception in his hands inside the Browns 25 yard line late in the fourth quarter, Miami wins. He dropped it. Miami lost.

The Pittsburgh loss? The Dolphins obviously didn't account for the refs working against them. They also got zero help from a running game that could not move the football despite the fact it was handed to the offense inside Pittsburgh's 30 yard line twice in the first half.

The Buffalo loss? Dan Carpenter missed four field goals. You put the game in a kicker's hands, er, legs, you pay the price for misses.

The Dolphins want to play games close and win in the fourth quarter. They think they won't lose the game as much as they will win the game.

Typical of this thinking is what quarterback Chad Henne said in this Miami Herald story that when everything is perfect, he can be a very good player.

"If they're giving us the right coverages, and we're in sync and everybody is executing the right way, we can be that kind of team. I can be that kind of player."

Unfortunately for Henne and the Dolphins, stuff isn't always perfect on the field. And that is a flawed approach which has betrayed the Dolphins this year.

Note to Dolphins: How about building a team that can, you know, actually take the fight to the opponent and either run so well or pass so well that they can win the game instead of hope not to lose it?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Dilfer: Dolphins give selves too little error room:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Miami 34 Detroit 10
Chicago 27 New Jet's 9

Trent Dilfer is a moron!

Do you mean, do it the right way???

Henning will call it quits at the end of the year,David Lee will replace him,Pennington will replace Lee! Tony and Jeff are staying,Nolan will take a head coaching job,Brown is gone,Henne will start next year.

Q.BS.looking for work next year~~McNabb~~Palmer~~Garcia~~A.Smith~~Delhomme~~Beck~~T.Jackson~~~~~~~ Be happy with Henne, the others are just bandages.

Trent Dilfer is SPOT ON...100% correct...we play tight and any small error means goodbye...we vcant score i sthe issue really...Trent sees it correctly

What are u doin up Buffalo..?...u on nite shift buddy?

Alex Smith intrigues me....

I still beleive Alex Smith can play....I believe like HENNE he is being badly handled

Almost Christmas eve...its about 9.30pm here in Australia...had a few beers...I drink FAT YAK...its like JSquires Golden Ale...smooth...girlfriend gone thank God...just chillin...watchin some ole footage of the phins...wouldnt it be great to see this team once again great...to see other teams with FEAR...to see us as the premier team...I want that attitude that the CZONK had...take no prisoners...bring the wood...great memories...i gotta stop drinkin....happy Chritsmas to all you dudes who blog...all Phin people...one day we will all meet and have a beer and celebrate a SB victory together...

If the Tuna was still calling the shots, he would call Vinny and tell him to get ready for next year. He still throws a better ball than those clowns listed above.

@Bigalfy~~ Just got in from a three day bender from celebrating the Bill's beating Miami! Can't get on the Jet's blog as they kicked me off. No sense of humor from that bunch!

@Bigalfy~~ Its 6:30 p.m. where I'm at, same side of the world as you,

Trying to win in the 4th quarter is ok for a certain game at that specific time if it turns out to be a defensive battle. You don't plan your whole season on that scheme.
In this case Sparano has planned it for 3 years! That's why we haven't seen a 2min. offense cuz they don't have one!!!
How about planning to blowout everyone,ever think of that game plan. Perhaps a new mindset (headcoach) with killer instinct Henne will do better. We'll see.

There's going to be 7 or 8 H.C. jobs open, who knows what you will end up with. Let the guy finish his contract and see how he makes out.

this offensive staff has to go. we are the only nfl team that doesnt have a "hurry up" offense. mike nolan for head coach!

A majority of games come down to a handful of key plays. This is not by design. Few teams become good enough they DON'T come down to a handful of plays. If everyone could build a team that scores 30+ points each game while allowing 10 or less, then every team WOULD build a team that...well, you get the idea.

This column was dumber than most of Armando's. It's like he was giving a lesson in remedial football...and STILL dumbed it down...and STILL got it wrong...

On top of the fundamental question: when are the Miami Dolphins going to acquire a true upper tier QB, add this: when is the Herald going to hire some actual writers?

Something must change for next year

We’re fooling ourselves if we think the status quo is going to get it done

It may be as simple as a different OC?

I think it’s more than that however.

We will lose to Detriot and Ross will fire Sparano! Cowher will replace Tony and he will bring in an experienced, but innovative OC. Nolan will be retained as DC. Here is the list of players that are gone:

2011 Priorities
Speed on O
Inside LB maybe Edds from iowa is that guy?

You don't miss an opportunity to bring in a SB winning coach, especially when he lists your team as one he covets.

Trent Dilfer is a moron!

Posted by: Buffalo Bill | December 23, 2010 at 04:58 AM


Trent Dilfer IS a moron.

But he's also 100% right in his assement.

Then again, the Dolphins' problem(s) are so evident to EVERYONE that Trent's grandmother could've come with that analysis

That is how the team won Sparano's first year so it reinforced their belief. Teams with inferior talent have to play this way. But that strategy is flawed & outdated. New England used to play that way but not anymore. Maybe if they actually accumulated "talent" on offense they would be able to put the foot to the pedal more.

dilfer is exactly right. we were supposed to have a luxury with marshall. instead we just take what the d gives. we never try to dictate anything on offense.

sparano praised pasqualoni at this time last year and then canned him. he needs to do the same with grandpa henning.

When are we facing reality and admit this is not a well run franchise. Not a very good football team. This team favorite play the FG. We have two aging slow backs with no explosion, or speed. We are a one trick pony at the receiving corp with no break away speed. A QB that is not showing progression but regression at times. An OC that plays 80' style football. The only thing going the right direction is the defense and it's coodinator Coach Nolan. They need to draft a QB in the 1st round. They need to find that runner, another receiver with speed to compliment Marshall. As you can see this is not a well run franchise.


Those 3 losses would make us 10-4! We have to dictate on offense, yeah of course henne can pass if he gets the right coverage, but so can you or i. Playin close and winning in the 4th is the worst idea I've ever heard! Can we just blow someone out? Just freakin once?

I believe the reason the fins are losing games is because the offense is one of the worst in the NFL. We have 3 players worth keeping on offense, the rest wouldn't be able to sniff the field on any other franchise. This is Parcells and ireland's fault, and Sparano too for not being able to come up with a decent o-line after 3 years. Time to clean house.

Dilfer is spot on. I've heard that said countless times on this board for a couple years now. I think we used to think that way due to inferior personel but unfortunately it hasn't changed even though the personal has improved. Hopefully that's a Henning philosophy and not a Sparano philosophy.

Trent summed it up.... another way of saying it is we don't have the ability to make enough explosive plays. give me a Desean jackson type reciever, a fast shifty change of pace back and an inside LB faster than Crowder and we will be fine even with the line we have.

Armando Dilfer's comments may be true but Parcells indicated that todays NFL is a talent acquisition game and this regime has failed to deliver enough offensive skill players. The most important one at quarterback. Chad Henne is not mobile or accurate. Pat White and his draft in the second round speaks for itself. The Dolphins came through with a good defense but they are being thwarted by poor and preditable offensive schemes. Dan Henning must go. I do not think Henne is the right choice but the Dolphins will have to try and build around him now. Look at the Atlanta Falcons. They made the right choices to build around Ryan. Building around Henne is more difficult because he is not nearly as talented. Talent acquisition! Parcells you failed to deliver talent acquisition on offense.

Henne can play when things are going perfectly...wow, yeah that instills confidence...

Im just so dissapointed with everything and everyone.

Hoping not to lose it, is the Dolphins MO

The Dolphins Suck

The Dolphins are not that far away from being a very good team. The speed is there at WR. Wallace and Moore need playing time. As for Henne, get off his back already, more innovation is needed on the offensive side of the football. You can't play not to lose. They need to be more aggressive. With a few more players, this team can dominate. I think Don Strock would be an excellent offensive coordinator.

So are the fans Stephen!

Time to step up and do something!

When your best and most aggressive & strategic battle plan to get into the Playoffs is to have your kicker try and make 50 YD field goals against a 20 mph wind, then the OC & HC need to be fired

U might want to rethink your strategy
U simple stupid Jackass

The Dolphins Suck

Wallace and Moore do not amount to a pimple on a gnats ass

Marshall, Bess, Curtis and Hartline are all go to receivers

The other two whiffed on ST and ran the wrong pass patterns in game time

Why do some of u insist on going with unproven rookies when the other four WRs have proven track records

Do u want to suck more?

Right now
The Dolphins Suck

A young team will lose close games.
As this team matures, it will be increasingly hard to beat.
Patience and a few key players are in order here.
This is the way to build a team, from the inside out.

"Note to Dolphins: How about building a team that can, you know, actually take the fight to the opponent and either run so well or pass so well that they can win the game instead of hope not to lose it?"

Note to Armando: Most of us here(myself included) have been asking the same question all year. This is EXACTLY why we need a change at HC. Playing NOT to lose will only cost you wins.

This year has shown that. In 2008 it was an OK approach because we had to. It's time to take the diapers off and let these young players go WIN games.

We don't attack, don't have a killer instinct. We let teams stay close giving them every chance to come back. It's time for a change in philosophy. Morono needs to go or else the talents of these players will be wasted.

This offense needs significant change and I would start with Henning. There is no getting around the stat of 31 out of 32 in scoring. The Fins probably don't have the right QB in place, but they have enough talent to do much better than 31/32.
I am not willing to throw out Sparano at this point. I'll get off the fence after I see how the team finishes. The special teams fiasco's earlier in the season are inexcusable, and I hang this on Sparano. Granted things have improved, but not recognizing these major deficiencies prior to the 1st game cost the team dearly.
That being said, I'm not ready to make a change for the sake of it. I like Sparano. And if his players perform for him then their is much to be had from stability and continuity. But Henning and probably Henne have to go.

As far as I'm concerned you guys are 8-6, the Pitt game was stolen from you by the strips. Win your last 2 and it can be a 10-6 season! Not bad for a team with a weak offense! Miami 34 Detroit 10 take it too the bank!

Philosophically you can't scheme to play all your games close and win them in the 4th quarter. You have to realize the other team has NFL caliber players too and they're going to try just as hard as you to win those close games. That tactic will produce a lot of 8-8 seasons.

I don't have a team of researchers out there to prove me right or wrong but am willing to bet that over the past three years (the Sparano era) the Miami Dolphins have had the least number of blowout wins (let's say more than 7 points) of any team with a winning record. Anyone care to check on that for me?

I agree 1000% with you Mando!

I still think everyone is too high on our D. Yes, it's played well of late & it's much improved over last season, but look at the competition. Against the good to elite offenses we have played rotten. Against bottom of the barrel teams, we have dominated.

Even The Bills with that decent passing game, we were simply mediocre. Let's not forget early in the season, against good teams, we couldn't get off the field on 3rd down. I think it's a stretch to say the D is set.

The D needs some tweaking such as another pass rusher, a better cover FS & a nickel DB. Offense, boy....you can start just about anywhere.

Conspiracy theory?

Miami Dolphins finish 8-8
Just like Vegas has in their books

Imagine That?

What people fail to realize is that this team was built to mirror the 80's Giants. Without a completely dominant Defense and dominant running game, neither of which this team has, this approach will never work.

The guys brought in here to run the show are old school, this is how they roll. If you want it to change, you have to remove them. Otherwise, embrace the mediocrity they have brought to Miami.

The Dolphins Suck

This is what I have been saying since week 3. Play to win. 20-17 is a win but 39-17 is better.

Safer isn't going for 3 when you know the other guy gets the ball and score 7. Safer is going for 7 when the opportunity is there.

Sparano is playing scared to lose and has been for 2 seasons. Henne is a robot because he is afraid to throw an INT but that fear is causing the INT. Henning is not creating ways to win.

Ross didn't become a billionaire by playing it safe. He had to be aggressive. How long will he let this stuff go on.

I agree with Dilfer.....we are too cautious, instead of attacking! If we have the mindset of keep attacking, our attitude will reflect on the field with aggressive play. Sparano is a solid coach, but his thinking is to much like Wanny! If he can let loose and allow the team to be aggressive on offense, we would be in better shape. Injuries havent been on our side, but we could easily be 10-4 or 9-5 right now! If the coach is too cautious, the team will play the same way! Too little room for error, equals mediocrity in the NFL!

I agree the defense is still a work in progress and probably not as good as their ranking but damn what an improvement! I think we can realistically say that with a tweak here and a playmaker there we could be a top tier defense.

All fans want is hope and the defense has delivered. The offense not so much.

Home...you are right! If we somehow win Sunday @ home, we finish with a 2-6 home record. Then next week, the Pats will more and likely find a way to win, which will leave us 6-2 on the road. How sad we couldnt have a better home record, or we would be in the playoff hunt.

"Note to Dolphins: How about building a team that can, you know, actually take the fight to the opponent and either run so well or pass so well that they can win the game instead of hope not to lose it?"

Bingo! You nailed it. This is why teams like New England, Philadelphia and New Orleans are so hard to beat. They dominate their opponents, not wait for them to make a mistake.

"Little room for error"....hmmm, let me think. Oh yeah, put points on the scoreboard would be the way to go I think.

Ross, don't wait until next year. Pull the trigger now.

Kinda funny that those few plays are the difference between 10-4 and 7-7...yet this team would still be a mess and still have a major issue at QB.

17 ft of snow?

26 inches of rain?

what`s wrong w this picture?

hmmm ...?

Have a HAARPy day :(

The play not to lose strategy takes the pressure off the QB to win games. I think our philosophy in 2008 was a good one and it fit Pennington to a T. Problem is we stuck with it in 2009 and 2010. In a QB driven league you need to, at least occasionally, ask your QB to win games. And I might add expect them to be successful from time to time.

I do not see this happening but 2 moves right off the bat i would make and this is after we hopefully got cowher is to hire Josh Mcdaniels but not sure if that could happen after the issue he had with Nolan.

Mcdaniels had issues but the one issue he did not have was how to run an offense. I think he would be a good fit. The 2nd move i would try and make would be to obtain one of Mcdaniels guys in Kyle Orton. With Tebow the future in Denver i would take a shot on him. He has put up solid number both years under Mcdaniels including this year with only Brandon Lloyd who was an average WR before this season.

As far as the draft, they have to go offensive heavy. They need speed speed speed at both the WR and RB positions and a tightend who can stretch the field would not hurt either. Another linemen is needed as well but hopefully Nate Garner can come back and play like he did in 2009 and maybe Jerry can take a step next year. A center upgrade is most likely needed as well.

Mr. Salguero writes, "The Dolphins want to play games close and win in the fourth quarter. They think they won't lose the game as much as they will win the game."

It's as though history is repeating itself. This was how Wannested managed a game, right? Here we are 4-5 years removed from all of that and we're right back where we started. This one sentence makes me think: WE-ARE-DOOMED!

Go Phins!

what bugs me about this regime is their aversion to speed on the offensive side of the ball. its truly comical when you hear hartline being called our "speed guy" or "down the field threat"
i cant believe im gonna say this but i think they got rid of ginn a year too early. i guess the final year of his contract was more than they thought he was worth.

Dilfer hit the nail on the head... But all that is not hennes fault.... Bad coaching and coaching philosophy!! I've been saying this for a while!! If you raise a child telling them they can't do this and that, that child 90% of the time will have low self confidence and struggle... That child is Chad henne.... Now if you tell that same child that he can do anything, and you know he can, and you trust in him, you will see his confidence grow... Even tho he might stumble from time to time.... That child is mark sanchez

Our current offensive philosophy doesn't account for the personel. Doubt we'd be much different regardless of who we had on offense.

1 2 3 »

The comments to this entry are closed.