This is what's happening at this hour:
As I first reported Sunday afternoon, the injury to Reggie Bush is not serious. Bush had an MRI exam this morning and the result showed swelling but no structural damage. He might miss some practice time this week if the swelling does not go down sufficiently.
The worst-case scenario is Bush misses Sunday's game at Arizona. Best case? He's back in the lineup this weekend and forward we go.
The play-calling is a big topic of media conversation today. I wrote my entire column about that topic in today's Miami Herald. Coach Joe Philbin admitted today that, on second look, he would have made some play-call changes during Sunday's game.
“Sure," he said. "You always examine everything. Look I mean we had a first and ten on the 35, I think or something like that. We ran the ball on first and ten, got a couple of yards, not as many as we would have liked. We threw it on second down because they played a specific coverage so we took a shot. Geez would it have been better if we could have completed a seven or eight yard crossing route? Yeah, absolutely. And got a first down? Sure. But credit them; we thought we had a good call and they played that situation better and we weren’t able to get a first down and make it an easier kick for Dan (Carpenter).
"Those are the facts. There are always calls that, again, I’ve never seen a NFL player play a perfect game or a coach coach a perfect game. There are always calls you want to have back, all three phases. But that’s football, that’s the way it is. You have a plan, sometimes you have to adjust it, but I’d be lying if I told you (otherwise). I’ve been in a few games (like that). I don’t think the calls were bad. The result wasn’t what we wanted. Sure we wanted a first down. I thought we had some good calls.”
Frankly, the Dolphins face an interesting philosophical question soon. You see, they're pretty good at running the football. They do it as well as anyone in the NFL so far this season.
But they are not very good passing the football.
Their problem? They want to be balanced. They want to be "aggressive," as one coach told me privately. They want to throw the ball because this is a passing league.
I would say this to the Miami Dolphins: There are only three undefeated teams at this hour in the NFL. Not one of them has had a 300-yard passing performance so far. Not one. (Matt Ryan has come close but still hasn't done it.)
I'm not saying it's not important to pass. It is very important. But if you aren't equipped to be a pass-first team, if you aren't good enough at it, find what you do well and do that instead.
Philbin addressed some of these issues at today's press conference.
He was asked what is the identity of the offense. My guess is the identity is Wait 'til next year. Philbin cannot say that. So he said this:
“The way I’d like to be is protection the football number one, which we’re not there right now, okay. We have what six giveaways in the three games. Is that accurate? So two-a-game is way too many. 32 that’s not going to cut it. That’s the first thing we’re off the boat on. The second thing is we’d love to be an explosive offense that can make big plays. I think we’ve been excellent in the running game with explosive plays, not as good in the passing game, but we’re getting better as an explosive offense. I think we had eight (explosive plays) yesterday. I think we had nine last week. We didn’t have as many in Houston. Then, the other stuff is okay, let’s have balance, let’s have flexibility, let’s be multiple formation wise, let’s kind of take what they give us type of things. But that’s all kind of fluff. What the real stuff is, is let’s hold onto the football, let’s make some big plays and make first downs, get into scoring position and all of the other stuff that sounds good we can do later."
Protection of the football is a big deal. Well, then why are you passing from your own 6 yard line with a rookie QB against that secondary when you're leading?
If protection of the football is a big deal, why was Daniel Thomas your back of choice in the fourth quarter and overtime after he fumbled for the second time in two games? Philbin, by the way, said Thomas has two fumbles in three games. Actually, he's only played two games because he missed the Oakland game with a concussion. So Thomas is averaging one fumble per game.
“Some of it was protection related," Philbin said of the work Thomas got later in the game at the expense of Lamar Miller. "We try to get moving a little bit offensively in terms of the tempo. We like to keep a, there’s a couple different schools of thought – sometimes, you can change personnel every play and sometimes you can keep the same group in for a while and try to play faster. We’re more of the less substitution more faster. We thought Daniel, pass protection wise, gives us a little bit more, bigger guy. Some of the matchups that we thought, that was really primarily the reason.”"
So let me get this correct: The running game is working exceedingly well. You are leading going into the fourth quarter. So then you sub in a back that is an inferior runner because you want to pass more and he's a better pass protector?
Idea: Run the football! It's been working!
I hate second-guessing. But when you have the same thing happening in multiple games, I have to bring it up. Yesterday the Dolphins had the ball in their own territory with 36 seconds to play. They weren't going to attack. So they handed the ball to Bush rather than take a knee.
He got hurt. Not injured seriously, as you just read, but he missed the remainder of the game. The second-guess is to simply take a knee.
Two weeks ago, the Dolphins were in a similar spot just before halftime. They weren't attacking but rather simply running out the clock to get to halftime. They ran a play for Daniel Thomas. He fumbled. He suffered a concussion.
Time to rethink?
"It all depends," Philbin said. "You have to… Every situation’s unique. The fun thing about game management, whether right, wrong or indifferent, you certainly could argue we’ve made some mistakes or I’ve made mistakes. I should clarify that. Every situation’s unique. Yeah, you have to argue as a coach do you have faith in your players to execute a base play in your offense and run the ball or do you want to take a knee.
"Sometimes, I struggle with that a couple times, obviously already this year. We’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look at it. We’ll discuss it. But I don’t know that there’s any hard fast, how are you playing at that particular time? Do you have any momentum? Do you want to get in the locker room and make some adjustments? You think you might be able to have a shot play that you’ve had that you might be able to take a shot and get into field goal range? How many timeouts do you have? How many do they have? There’s a bunch that goes into it. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast."
One more thing ... The Dolphins are still struggling to find wide receiver help -- no, not via trade but rather from their own roster. Anthony Armstrong, claimed on waivers from Washington, hasn't performed as hoped. He dropped a pass Sunday. He hasn't factored for Miami.
So while Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are mostly contributing, the Dolphins are apparently using practice every week to determine which other wide receiver gets work on Sunday.“I think some of it is based on weekly performance, weekly preparation in practice," Philbin said. "I don’t think we’re locked and loaded by any stretch of the imagination."