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Dolphins close but not quite there in the red zone

I was watching Monday Night Countdown on ESPN the other evening when Trent Dilfer and Steve Young began talking about Sam Bradford and his struggles in the red zone. And, of course, I brought the conversation home to South Florida.

To Chad Henne.

To the Miami Dolphins' offense.

And to their red zone problems so far this season.

"You don't make your money in between the 20s," Dilfer said of playing QB. "You make your money from the 20 in against pressure."

Young, a Hall of Famer, agreed.

"The easiest thing to do is go between the 20s [but] inside the 20s is graduate work," he said. " .. you got to realize that for a lot of players that's the final step for them -- how to put it in the end zone. Because nobody is really ever open in the red zone. It's not just against the blitz but also zone.

"A lot of times young quarterbacks will say, 'Read the defense, do a nice job, drop the ball down, and kick a field goal.' And after about 16 field goals in a row you realize that's not the job. You have to throw somebody open."

Again, they were talking about Sam Bradford. But it all applies to Henne and his play so far in 2011. He's had relatively high success moving the team up and down the field between the 20s. But inside the 20s, the Dolphins are ranked No. 31 in the NFL with an unacceptable 60 percent scoring percentage.

Henne has to learn to throw receivers open. He has to learn to make precise, accurate throws and make them with anticipation -- something he's struggled to do at times. Against the Texans, Henne completed 3 of 8 passes inside the opponent 20 yard line for 16 yards and 1 TD. Not very good.

So there is that.

But ...

Miami's struggles in the red zone are not all Henne's doing. Not by a long shot. The Dolphins have struggled the first two games to rush the ball when it counts most. That is very frustrating.

And Dolphins' receivers haven't exactly helped Henne, either. No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall has had two opportunities in the end zone that have hurt his team because he had two drops of potential touchdowns -- one against New England and one against Houston.

One of those at first to me seemed like a late throw by Henne. I said as much on the live blog. But I was wrong. Looking at the throw in the following series of screen shots sent to me by reader Justin Reader, it is obvious Henne threw an amazing pass to Marshall from the 16 yard line in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

Miami was trailing 16-10 at the time. Matched against former Dolphins DB Jason Allen, Marshall is in man-to-man coverage:

Marshall drop 1
Marshall beats Allen (no surprise) and the ball is in the air with about eight yards to spare between the players and the end line.

Marshall drop 2
Ball's almost there. Five yards to spare between players and the end line. Allen is watching helplessly.

Marshall drop 3
Marshall's got it. The ball is in his grasp. Now he must hold on and get both feet in bounds. He's got about four yards to work with.

Marshall drop 4
Still looking good. He's got three yards to secure the ball and get his feet in bounds. Allen? Helpless.

Marshall drop 5
This is now looking like a TD. Just hold on, Brandon Marshall!

Marshall drop 6
Whoops! Ball is no longer in Marshall's grasp. He basically flipped it away as he was trying to secure it.

Marshall drop 7
Yup, this is not going well. Now we have to hope Allen doesn't catch the rebound for an interception.

Marshall drop 8
Incomplete pass. Marshall had it in his grasp. He would have had room to tap his feet in. It could have, should have been a touchdown that put the Dolphins ahead 17-16.

Instead Dan Carpenter had to kick a 34-yard field goal to make the score, 16-13 in Houston's favor.

Marshall completes this catch, the game changes. The mood changes. Momentum shifts. Miami's red zone results change.

Instead, I'm writing about the team's red zone problems. Bottom line:

Somebody's got to make a play. Miami's playmakers have got to make a play. If they don't, we shouldn't call them playmakers any more.


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Great breakdown there armando

When one player does they're job another doesn't.


Coach needs to demand excellence and focus from these guys. Maybe that is what goes on in practice thus carrying over to the games. Make it unacceptable at all times.

Didn't Jones get dumped the last time because he got toasted? THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY !!!

I should get a Daniel Thomas jersey...

The talent is there but these guys may not be working and getting after it enough in practice.

I,I,I,Can't watch anymore,FIRE EVERYBODY and hope we get LUCKY and start over.....I'm getting to old for this sheeeeet.

Is BM overrated? In the first game he stops short of the goal line on a quick out and deflects the ball up on what is an easy catch. The play before he failed to get open.

Take the pressure off,use him as a decoy and start getting that ball to other receivers or backs or (wow) tight ends.

TS is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Mando is dead on here. A big WR like Braylon Edwards would have helped. The lack of an athletic TE is also killing us in the red zone.

Is BM overrated? In the first game he stops short of the goal line on a quick out and deflects the ball up on what is an easy catch. The play before he failed to get open.

Take the pressure off,use him as a decoy and start getting that ball to other receivers or backs or (wow) tight ends.

TS is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Posted by: klndry | September 21, 2011 at 05:06 AM

If you use him as a decoy the guy explodes and starts blasting the QB and the coaches. Very overrated player.

thinking that those drops come from the only "playmaker" we have on offense...
since we signed him, the guy has less TDs than drops in the end zone...

Brandon has definitely been a dissapointment since getting here. However he does look better than last year though. Overall, I have been less than impressed.

Gotta get Clyde Gates and Marlon Moore more playing time. Need to develop more play-makers for the O.

can't even watch miami play and I have been a fan since 69 when i could UNDERSTAND WHAT I WAS WATCHING TV.I could cry,but I wont cause I have faith and I'm not sure when to give up hope.PLEASE DON'T MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE ME AN EAGLES FAN FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR .R.ASSS SELL THE TEAM TO MARK CUBAN.AT LEAST HE WANTS TO WIN AT ALL COSTS.

For once I agree with you completely. Henne is never going to be an elite QB but he does not need to be for Dolphins to win. Just needs to cut down mistakes, which so far he has, and got those players who are supposed to elite (Marshall, Bush) play like they are.....especially, as you point out, in the red zone.

Everybody goes on hysterics when things are going bad, it compounds the problem. First this is a game, it's not life or death, so be realistic. We can complaint, rage, etc. and it will not change the fact that we are 0-2; so the only thing logical is keep working hard and move onto the next game, that's all. I've been unemployed for 9 months without unemployment benefits and the only thing left is hope, and that will never die. So brace yourself and keep the hope alive that the Dolphins will turn it around!!!

Art....sorry to read that....really......your positive attitude is inspiring..and I will definetly start my work day with something to be thankful for.....

Your situation reminds us all that it is just a game......

So it has been Sparano all along the author of all those very strange and clearly wrong decisions(insisting on starting J. Allen, Sapp to later cut them during the Season, the turnstile of Olinemen to wind up with the worst line he has had since he has been here, many others.



This past couple of weeks have been very tough for us Dolfans but there was no other way to find out what is going on. Now, at least I, know.

From my part, my sincerest apologies to Ross, Ireland for any out of order commentaries I might have made. You were right.

I think the bar for Brandon Marshall is set at infinity....and I have sey it there as much as any other FIN FAN.....

He makes a lot of catches...but he does have far to many drops for my imo.....

My expectation for Marshall have dropped....They have become my aligned with what I believe to be realistic......

he will most likely have 2 drops a game..

He will run the wrong pattern 1 time per game....

He will be thrown at about 8 times....

Thats 5 catches per game....

thats 80 catches...give or take......

that is what I am expecting......

80-90 catches would be great.....if he could turn 10 of those into TD......

Last years 1.......embarrassing...for ALL involved....inculding the fans.....

No excuse for Marshall dropping that pass.....NONE.....

It was a routine catch....High school kids make them every Friday night for free......

He's making 50 Million Dollars....anybody think....Andre Johnson drops that pass....

How about.....

greg Jennings....or any packers reciever for that matter....

Larry fitzgerald

Roddy white

Santonio Holmes (santana moss)

Calvin Johnson

If Marshall wants to be know as one of the best in the game....he needs to play like one of the best in the game.....PERIOD!!!!!!


For the life of me, I can not understand why people are saying Brandon Marshall is overrated. He is going to have drops, just like any receiver (Andre Johnson missed a deep, catchable ball early in the game). Marshall is arguably one of the top 5 receivers in the LEAGUE and there are not many receivers that are going to drag a big corner like Jason Allen all the way to the end zone from the 5-yard line.
I don't know how one can consider a guy that catches 80+ passes for over 1,000 yards a disappointment. Barring injury, the guy is going to crush those numbers this year. His TDs will increase significantly too.

The more I look at those pics..the more pissed off i get......

I'm calling on the Joe Schmoe's of this blog to be as hard on this as they/we/I was on Henne in Pre-season for not sticking that pass in to Bess....

Disclaimer.....Not sure if Joe Schmoe posted anything on that Pre-season pic of Henne being scared to pull the trigger.....

But you guys get my point.....

All of you who consider yourselves objective and realstic.....make sure yhat doesn't only apply when Henne is under the microscope.......

Brandon is a very emotional, easy to anger guy and I think the atmosphere in that locker room after Sapp was let go was not precisely fun. He is a proven elite receiver and should be the least of our worries.

Very hard for us Fans to be objective and realistic with the very limited amount of in formation we have on inside workings of the Team. It takes us longer but, sooner or later, we are going to uncover the Truth.

Doesn't the lack of being able to consistently convert in the red zone fall on lack of familiarity and practice between the players and doesn't that ultimately fall on the coaches. Shouldn't this kind of stuff be practiced, practiced, practiced and then practiced some more. If you were a kid struggling to play piano or unable to hit that jump shot in the big game wouldn't your coach be on you to keep doing it over and over and over again until you got it perfect. I don't think any of that has gone on here. I think a lot of it is the tension/lack of chemsitry between Henne and others from last year and it's carried over to this year. To me that is all on the coaching staff to make sure these guys could do this kind of stuff in their sleep. That obviously hasn't happened here.





good thing im a ravens fan also :)

On the coaches 95%. Get better plays in the red zone.

Fin Fans I will see you all next year.

Hopefully next season, we will have a NEW...

Head Coach

At this point, I would love to see my Fins relocate. The need a change!

Gotta get ready for the playoffs:D

LETS GO YANKEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is baffling that we do have talent and it is not showing up on the field. To me, that is coaching but I think some has to be put on the very short off season. Henne is better, but as a 40 yr fan, our MO over the past 20 years has been giving up the big play and not converting our opportunities. Everything has gone downhill since the Robbie family sold out sorry to say. Ross has good intentions, but clueless. I say give him the offseason to lure a true PROVEN HC, not someone who should be a good one. Cowher? Fisher? I think we have the personnel but Daboll should look more to using TE's. Look what Pats did. With those kind of match-ups, you don't need a Brady, Henne would suffice with 2 good TE's. Lastly, the new FO that will come next season has to grow a pair of balls and go spend the money on the marquee players. I am happy to see D. Thomas run well, but it was 1 game. Need to use Bush as a slot guy or catching passes out of the backfield. Waste of talent & $$ him standing on the sideline.

It's a team game.......the supporting cast needs to step up in the redzone or Henne will continue to struggle down there.

And you perfectly capture the problem Mando. Marshall can make that catch, HAS made it before, it was a perfect throw. For whatever reason, he doesn't make it when it counts. This team NEVER makes the play when it counts (that's all of them: Henne, Marshall, RB, defense, oline, all of 'em).

CraigM, from yesterday, you asked 2 questions after I left I wanted to respond to. First, on GM, it's hard for me to fully analyze Ireland, since we don't know how this Draft will turn out (usually 50% is a good job). But after ANOTHER signing of an ex-Cowboy, I'm just totally done with this joker. I don't think he knows how to analyze talent too well, I think he's mostly just guessing, and I think it'd be hard to do worse, so let's try to do better. I wouldn't mind Polian by the way, but doubt he'd leave Indy (did he say that)?

And to your QB question, let me preface by saying Henne has probably been MVP of the team so far. I'm liking him in the new system offensively. With that said, yes, we need a franchise QB. I don't see any other way of becoming elite. Henne is serviceable, and maybe could be that if he can get his accuracy consistent, but that shouldn't stop us from trying to get a bonefied star. And if we were ever to try, this upcoming Draft should be the year (since everyone's saying the QB class will be one of the better ones). Let's get a QB, change the Coach for sure, see what happens with the GM, try and get some sort of identity to this team, and educate the rookie QB behind Henne, until Henne either sputters or else proves he'll be the starter for awhile, and then fill some other holes.

I agree with what you and many said, a lot of this has been Coaching mistakes. Henning was a disaster. The proto-typical Parcells player has put us further back from elite teams, our entire identity is being remodeled, without an idea what it will become, we're a mess, from the TOP. I can't really evaluate these players because the Coaching is so poor.

So, I'm still hopeful (for 1 win), but I think Sparano is a dead man walking, and hopefully it doesn't get too ugly too soon.

Another great point Mando!! People should find more fault with Marshall as opposed to Henne. Marshall also freelances too much and changes the timing of the route....

Excellent pics and Home thinks Marshall realizing he is not playing at an elite level cuz of these drops will help him keep his ego in check

Fact is, ...


Lets See:

1. The entire right side of the oline's a work in progress. Carey hasnt played guard since his days at the U. Sparano now has to place a 6th olineman in the game next to Columbo because he's such a turnstile.

2. Sure Marshall has to make those kind of catches. Still its been forever now Henne hasnt learned to throw the endzone fade td pass.

3. Once we reach the opponents 50yd maybe we should begin taking shots at the endzone. As its been mentioned before, the redzone has become the deadzone for this offensive team.

Wow! Did we really need all these photos?

I didn't even need a replay during the game on that one.

In the red zone, the pressure is on! The GO AHEAD POINTS hanging in the balance! Henne reads the coverage, audibles to the right play.

Delivers a strike!

His stats weren't much to be admired though, I heard that on authority-LOL!

I wondered where he got that-"The throw was late garbage". Now I know, Armando originally posted it on the live blog. You see Mr. Advocate, maybe you should do what I do. Instead of being blindly led around by the nose, WATCH THE GAMES FOR YOURSELF!

Henne should NOT throw fades too often

He simply is NOT good at it

Eliminate the fades and pound the ball w Thomas or Hilliard inside the 5 and we WIN BOTH OF THE PAST 2 GAMES


Here's A Suggestion:

Once we get to the opponent's 50yd line put Gates, Marlon Moore, and Hartline in at wr. Put Marshall in at the te position. Then start chucking the ball at the endzone!


Youre right bad coaching! We now take the te out of the game for an extra olineman because Columbo is such a turnstile.

How Sparano continues to justify playing Columbo is beyond everyone. We now have to pull the te out of the game to compensate for Columbo's ability to pass block.

I agree Armando.

We're a young team with most of the receivers beginning to establish themselves. The last two losses highlight how few opportunities you get to make a play. When they are there, you have to execute.
Lets hope the lesson is learned after an 0-2 start.

I still think this is a 10-6 team.

I hate to always be coming to Henne's defense, but sometimes people here are just short sighted and blind.

For the record, and since it's been forever, how many chances did Henne get to work on his fade in two years under that horrible piece of garbage Hennings? Exactly NONE!

Let me guess, well he could of practiced it in college right? Well this ain't college, this ain't college corners and it ain't college speed.

While he has a long way to go, Henne's improvement has kicked into warp speed under Daboll. The fade is a 50/50 and is probably the easiest pass to perfect(if there is such a thing).

I predict that very soon, Henne will throw the absolute perfect fade pass.

Of course I also predict that whoever he throws it too will drop it!

Great Day to be a Dolphins Fan!!!!

Room to tap his feet?!?! Dude could have tapped his feet several times. I'm starting to think Marshall is allergic to TD catches.


Brent, you cant see ehy he is overrated? Open your eyes and watch. 2 TD's in the red zone this year, one would give us the lead, the other down by one score.

2. Watch the games and see him wing it on a set route when his QB is going to get hammered. QB puts the ball where he is supposed to be, then Marshall turns around yelling at him to read his mind and throw it where he wants to go. Is the guy insane?

Henne has made 3 bad plays in the red zone this year. the fade which was awful, and coaches should have tried to run. then he over threw Marshall 10 feel over his head on a streak in the end zone after the above drop. then the New England game he threw over Marshall's head. All other passes in the red zone I emplore you to go RE-WATCH. Marshall drops the ball or runs some queer route!

There is never a TE with seperation like Gronkowsski or Hernandez. Bess somehow is NEVER even close to open.

I truly believe there is a lack of creative playmaking in the red zone offensive calls.

To top it off, Henne does not get time to breath no less find someone with this offensive line! Head Coach former O-line coach,

Mando, I agree the fade pass did not give the receiver a chance, and Henne and Marshall obviously need to work on hand signals for a over the back shoulder pass vs. a jump ball. That was the pre-madona overrated receiver can at least give Henne a clue as to what he is doing, since Chad gets no time to let a play develop.

Room to tap his feet?!?! Dude could have tapped his feet several times. I'm starting to think Marshall is allergic to TD catches.

Posted by: Dagnell | September 21, 2011 at 08:56 AM

LOL-Same thing I thought. As soon as I read it I thoguht, yeah, Warfield could have worked with that(or any other good receiver that's ever played the game)!

The beginning of this season is showing me how badly the wc hurt this team. For 3 season we didnt have a legitimate inside the 5 goaline running attack.

Now the olinemen have to learn to goal line block. Im sure the blocking pattern is a little different for wc 1st and goal than base 1st and goal. Now youre asking your olineman to do something they never had to do the past 3yrs because of the wc.

Seems we've opened up an entirely new can of whup-our-own-a*ss by dumping the wc this season. That seems to have begun with depending on the wc the past 3 seasons.


Not dumping on Henne but coming out of college most qb's already know how to throw the endzone fade. It isnt something you come into the nfl to learn. Either you can throw it or you cant.

The endzone fade is only about throwing the ball to certain spot. Instead of throwing to a spot Henne leads the reciever with the pass everytime. When doing this 95% of the time a qb will throw the ball out of bounds.

I just dont know why Henne doesnt seem to understand something as simple as this. Throw the right at the corner of the endzone(inbounds) and let the reciever get it.


Henne's a far better qb than I can even dream of being. But I bet you anything I understand throwing a endzone fade far better than he. Ive done it many times in my youth.

It isnt nearly as difficult as Henne makes it seem. The problem is between his ears when it comes to the endzone fade throw.

DB, the end zone fade is a depth/timing/spot play. Henne's fade pass was awful in NE, and to boot it was thrown to flatline.

Last year he threw the fade 3 times, 1 floated out of the end zone the other 2 were jump balls for marshall but the defender had good position, Marshall did not pull it down, but defended well.

Henne has a weakness at throwing a fade pass consistantly, however he can throw them, he did in practice for the public this year.

The bigger point is not Henne can not throw "1" pass well all the time, it is on 4th down where we have 1 play left, that coaching CALLED that one play!!!

Even if Henne did throw that ball on the money, Hartline was loosing the hand and position battle from the get go. so letsw not get this twisted, if he threw the perfect pass there it was not scoring. There needs to be better or different calls in the red zone.

The endzone fades always thrown before the reciever comes out of his break. When he comes out of his breaks he already knows exactly where the ball will be. Because the qb puts the ball in the same spot nearly every throw.

The endzone fade's difficult to defend because the defender never sees the ball coming until its too late. Because the ball's out of the qb's hand before the reciever ever makes his break.

I am sure Henne can throw a fade vs pee-wee league.

People are missing the point. If Henne plays PERFECTLY, anyone think we'd have a different record?

It's NOT Henne! It's coaching, it's team execution, it's lack of a proven system.

It's NOT injuries (all teams have that problem), it's NOT talent (there's enough talent on this team).

I think people have given up hope Sparano could turn things around (meaning Coaches, players, etc.). Either the micro-managing, the lack of accountability (how's Carpenter still on the team, can't even kick the ball out of the endzone?) or the personnel mistakes by Ireland, or all that rolled into 1.

Ask yourselves, would Tom Brady make this team into a winner? I really don't know. Definitely not with that oline in front of him.

You're only as strong as your weakest link!


Henne also is hair late on his endzone fade throw. When the reciever comes out of his break the defender usually spins his head around to locate the ball.

If Henne is just releasing it the defender has a split second to adjust and make a play.

But if Henne has already released the ball before the the reciever comes out his break. When the defenders spins his head around upon seeing the reciever come out his break. Now he's more at a disadvantage to make a proper play on the ball.

Now spinning his head around makes him a split hair late to defend it. That's all the reciever needs to execute the catch.

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